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An entrance examination is an examination that many educational institutions use to select students for admission. These exams may be administered at any level of education, from primary to higher education, although they are more common at higher levels.
The National Higher Education Entrance Examination (or gaokao) is an academic examination held annually in the mainland of the People's Republic of China. This examination is a prerequisite for entrance into almost all higher education institutions at the undergraduate level. It is usually taken by students in their last year of secondary school, although there has been no age restriction since 2001.
In 2006, a record high of 9.5 million people applied for tertiary education entry in China. 8.8 million of them (93%) are scheduled to take the national entrance exam; 27,600 (0.28%) have been exempted from standardized exams (保送) due to exceptional or special talent. The rest (0.7 million) will take other standardized entrance exams, such as those designed for adult education students.
The overall mark received by the student is generally a weighted sum of their subject marks. The maximum possible mark varies wildly from year to year, and also varies from province to province.
Entrance Examinations in India trace their roots to the University of Calcutta, which when established in 1857, introduced the practice to decide eligibility for admission. In the absence of a standardized school graduation examination, the University's entrance examinations were used as a substitute, known later as Matriculation examinations. Post-independence India has different systems of education whose syllabi and examination process are governed by both central and state-based statutory boards. Grades 10 and 12 which mark the culmination of secondary and higher secondary education, have standardized final examinations, referred to as the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examination after grade 10 (class X) and the Higher Secondary Examination(HSC) after grade 12 .
Apart from the secondary and higher secondary examinations, various universities have their own admission and qualification criteria. These may be organized and conducted by the universities themselves, by an examination board related to an affiliated group of universities. There has been some attempt at standardization at the central level with common examinations like the CAT and AIEEE now commonly recognized by universities.
Typically, entrance examinations for universities tend to be:
- competitive - i.e. examinations are ranked and choices of university and course are given in the ascending order of rank. Standard practices like waiting lists are accounted in. This differs from SSLC and HSC in that there is no grading threshold for passing the examination.
- objective - i.e. based on multiple choice questions. The rationale is as much to save work on evaluating millions of candidates using automated means as to balance out the effect of subjective scores on conventional (long-answer) papers that a student faces in his HSC.
Some of these exams (particularly the UPSC's Engineering Services Examination (the toughest in India), BITS Pilani admission test, IIT-JEE, CAT and AIPMT) are considered among the toughest in the world, with lakhs of students competing for a few thousand seats.
It is not uncommon for a university to use multiple examinations for admission. Engineering schools in India usually admit 15% of their students through the national-level AIEEE and the remaining 85% based on their scores in the entrance exam conducted by the state in which the college is located. Government-run medical schools use a similar pattern, basing admissions on the candidate's rank at the All India Pre-Medical Test. The prestigious Indian Institutes of Management conduct a Common Admission Test for their applicants, but continue to consider the more common GMAT scores for foreign and non-resident applicants. The renowned Indian Institutes of Technology conduct the notoriously competitive IIT-JEE and the prestigious BITS Pilani conducts an online admission test BITSAT which attracts candidates from as far away as Dubai.
Recently, separate exams have been introduced for courses such as law and hotel management. Some colleges such as AIIMS and AFMC and many private medical colleges conduct their own entrance tests. However the college admission procedure in India remains somewhat controversial due to the presence of reservation of seats for "backward" castes.
In Japan the National Center Test for University Admissions is a nationally standardized entrance exam for higher education that 3rd year high school students or high school graduates take in an attempt to meet admission requirements of the school or schools of their choice. High school students, especially 3rd year students focus almost solely on preparations for the exam, in an attempt to enter the most prestigious universities in the country. Often students attend a cram school which is also known as juku in Japan in order to prepare as much as they can for the exam.
South Korea 
The College Scholastic Ability Test also known as Suneung (수능) is a type of standardized test accepted by all South Korean universities. Suneung is managed by the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation. The test is offered on the second Thursday of November. Often, students are escorted by police, especially if students don't think they will arrive at the test centre on time. Since the test is used as an entrance examination for all universities in South Korea, the preparation for it is so secure and strict that since its beginnings from 1993, Suneung questions were never leaked. Questions are made by chosen professors and teachers, who are locked in a hotel with blacked windows, no communication and a full library of questions until the end of Suneung.
United Kingdom 
One-half of British universities have lost confidence in the A* or A grades that are awarded by secondary schools, and require many applicants to sit for a competitive entrance examination. According to the Schools Minister, “strong evidence has been emerging of grade inflation across subjects” in recent years.
North America 
United States 
For most colleges and universities in the United States, the SAT Reasoning Test and ACT are considered the examinations of choice for admissions at the undergraduate level. Postsecondary schools do not administer their own entrance exams.
Admissions into certain North American graduate schools are often partly determined by the results of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) or Law School Admission Test (LSAT). The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is one of the most popular admissions tests for general graduate school. The Miller Analogies Test is waning in popularity but is still used for admission to more language-oriented study.
Some American universities and many colleges have rejected these standardized tests. Instead, they evaluate prospective students solely through other means, such as an original essay or the marks the student received in a previous school. Others make the test optional or require students to take the test but do not consider its results in the admission process.
See also 
- Selective education
- Vestibular, the entrance exams in Brazil
- Competitive examination
- Standardized test
- Aptitude test
- High-stakes test
- List of admission tests to colleges and universities
- Paton, Graeme (13 July 2012). "More students forced to sit university admissions tests". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 July 2012.