Photo/IllutrationHiroto Takahashi, who became the youngest to pass the top level of a national math test, draws a mathematical formula on a white board in the living room at his home in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward on Nov. 16. (Taeko Hiraoka)

Like most boys his age, 11-year-old Hiroto Takahashi likes video games and watching anime. He also just passed the top level of a nationwide math test.

The feat makes him the youngest person ever to pass the college graduate-level 1-kyu of the Sugaku Kentei test conducted by the Mathematics Certification Institute of Japan (MCIJ), the organization announced Nov. 15.

"I'm truly happy, because I've tried to pass the exam many times," said Takahashi, a fifth-grader at an elementary school in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward.

The test, which he took in October, measures practical skills in math, including calculations, constructions, expressions, organization, statistics and proofs.

Even when he was 2, Takahashi was deeply engrossed in solving puzzles. Having worked on math drills one after another, the boy become able to solve prime number factorization at around the age of 3.

Takahashi's first sense of achievement from math came as a kindergarten student.

"There was a difficult question, which I finally managed to solve," said Takahashi. "I was so happy that I could never forget it."

Thinking through various ways of solving questions and working the answers out through trial and error became fascinating, he added.

At the age of 5, Takahashi took the plunge into the Sugaku Kentei exam, which has a total of 14 levels, ranging from 1-kyu for college graduates to 11-kyu for first-graders and the Number and Shape Test for preschool children.

Takahashi passed the 2-kyu, for second-year high school students, when he was a first-grader at elementary school, and passed the pre-1-kyu for third-year high schoolers when he was in the second year of elementary school, setting the record for the youngest to pass both exams.

The 1-kyu exam covers a wide range of problems, from analysis, such as multivariable functions, to statistical data and algorithm basics. All exam questions require written answers.

In October 2016, the youngster passed the first section of the 1-kyu level that measures calculation skills, and after continually taking the exam, he managed to pass the second stage measuring applied skills this time around.

Only 42 out of 448 examinees, or 9.4 percent, passed the 1-kyu exam, Takahashi among them.

The exam organizer described the fifth-year elementary school student passing as "a remarkable accomplishment."

The wonder kid's flair for numbers has been further developed through an encounter with a math expert. Takahashi started receiving instruction from algebraic geometry mathematician and professor emeritus Shigeru Iitaka, 76, after attending his lecture at a bookstore.

Takahashi currently studies super twin prime and perfect numbers with Iitaka and has presented the study results at a conference.

“His marvelous mathematical sense can be only described as genius. He has an ability to get to the crux of the matter,” said Iitaka. “When I give him a question, he immediately solves it. He is everyone's favorite.”

His two younger brothers have also taken the Sugaku Kentei exam.

Takahashi, the eldest of three brothers, is currently studying in preparation for the entrance exam for a junior high school. While striving to get perfect scores on arithmetic tests designed for entrance exams, he does not always reach his mark.

“The speed (of solving questions) is emphasized in arithmetic problems on the entrance exam,” said Takahashi. “Mathematics and arithmetic are completely different subjects.”

Takahashi's least favorite subject is social studies, as it requires a lot of rote learning.

Aside from being highly adept at math, the 11-year-old is just like any other elementary schooler. He enjoys watching his favorite anime "Crayon Shin-chan" and the variety show “Enta no kamisama" (The God of Entertainment) on TV.

He said he is sometimes scolded by his parents for playing online games too much.

Speaking about his dream of becoming a famous mathematician, Takahashi said, "I want to come up with novel and useful concepts, just like mathematicians who came up with differential and integral calculus, and leave my mark on history."