This paper provides evidence on whether mandating wider subject variety on high school entrance exams affects long-term educational achievement using Japanese historical experiences. In Japan, where high school education is non-compulsory, prefectural boards of education have retained the freedom to set admission criteria for public high schools within their prefecture, including the number of subjects tested on entrance exams. Using prefectural-level panel data, we estimate the effect of the number and choice of subjects tested at the time of high school entrance on the probability of college attendance three years later. We find that the variety of subjects tested has a positive effect on the later college enrollment. Our findings are broadly consistent with the incentive theory of testing (Lazear, 2006) and the empirical results from other countries.
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