Photo/IllutrationHigh school students taking unified entrance examination for universities trudge through deep snow to reach their test venue in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, Jan. 13. (Kazuyoshi Sako)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

For more than half a million university hopefuls, "examination hell" dawned Jan. 13 as they sat for unified entrance exams across the country. Heavy snow caused disruptions in some regions.

The number of applicants totaled 582,671 this year, up 6,704 from last year, according to the government-affiliated National Center for University Entrance Examination.

The first day of tests at 695 exam sites nationwide was given over to geography and history, civics, Japanese and a foreign language. Tests of two other subjects are scheduled for Jan. 14.

Some venues had to delay the beginning of the tests due to heavy snow that played havoc with public transportation.

According to the center, a record 44.6 percent of the graduating high school students applied for the unified entrance examination, up by 0.7 percentage point.