Information and Advice for Meiji Gakuin University's English Exam
The English section of Meiji Gakuin University's entrance exam tests a broad section of English ability, comprehension and skill. Rather than giving "tricky" questions that can be answered by clever test-taking techniques, we want to know how well you can read and comprehend English, understand a conversation, identify correct grammar in context and write an essay in English. The different sections examine many areas of English and the total score is weighted to balance all of these areas. The questions on the exam aim to find English that is active and communicative, rather than memorized patterns or "test English."
The exam has three reading passages, each with different types of questions for different types of comprehension. One set of questions asks for an overall understanding of the entire meaning of the reading; the second set of questions consists of multiple-choice questions that focus on more specific sections; and the third set of questions focuses on both general and specific parts in Japanese. You may be asked to choose a summary, make an inference, draw a conclusion, restate the meaning in other words or grasp one specific important point.
For this reason, preparation for reading should try to improve overall English reading comprehension of many kinds of English passages and the ability to think about the reading in English. These reading selections come from a wide range of English materials of a general academic nature. The texts are not simplified, but essential vocabulary words outside the range of high school English dictionaries are given a Japanese translation at the end of the text to aid comprehension. Good preparation for this section would result in understanding the key points even if some words or phrases are difficult. You will also be asked to do an English-to-Japanese translation of two parts from one of these readings. This translation will also show your understanding of the overall meaning as well as what the specific sentence or phrase means in Japanese.
For the conversation section, we want to know how well you understand natural spoken English in the context of a lengthy conversation between two people. The questions in this section test your understanding of what makes sense, what is correct and what sounds right. This is not a listening section, but is written so that you have time to think about your answer. The purpose of this section is to show your ability to understand all aspects of conversation in English, not simply to show whether you know the grammar is correct or not. One good way to prepare for this section is to listen to spoken English, examine transcripts of real conversations, and watch TV programs or DVDs with the English subtitles on. Practicing real conversations, of course, is also very helpful.
The grammar section gives an idea of your general level of grammatical ability. Several sentences are given in this section. For each sentence, there are four underlined sections, one of which is incorrect. A complete understanding of all four sections is needed in order to identify the incorrect section. The sentences are not tricky ones, but are written in a direct and natural English style. The sentences are usually compound or complex sentences, and have meanings that are comprehensible without special knowledge or difficult vocabulary. Rather than memorizing a list of common grammar mistakes, a better way to prepare for this section is to develop a strong sense of correct grammar in a more thorough way. The wrong part will always violate an essential and commonly used grammatical rule of English.
The last section of the exam is a short essay. The essay exam looks at English production skills and written expression. There will be one question to be answered in a short essay. The questions are not specialized topics and do not demand any particular knowledge. The questions may ask for your opinion on current events, social problems or general issues in life. Students can answer based on their own opinion and ideas, but should explain their reasons fully and clearly. Any answer that is too short will receive a low mark, as will long answers that have too many unclear expressions or confusing usages. A balance of all writing elements is best within the word limit. The answer will be graded on a holistic scale that includes all parts of the essay together. The best way to prepare for this section is to practice writing in a limited time. The amount of time students spend on this section will differ, of course, but typically would be 10 to 15 minutes. Being sure to save enough time during the exam to complete the essay will also be of great help for this section, as it demands active writing skills.
The English section of the exam at Meiji Gakuin University is designed to test English skills that will be necessary in academic work and in future society. An active approach to preparing is important to develop a general ability to use English in real and academic contexts. During the exam, students are advised to pay attention to the time they spend on each section and to divide their energy among the different sections. The exam seeks to go beyond traditional English testing styles to gauge students' real English ability across a range of language skills.