Cram schools usually specialise in a particular subject or subjects. Cram schools that prepare students for high school and university entrance examinations are also frequently specialised to particular schools, and the staff may have access to previous years' examinations. Special cram schools that prepare students who have failed their entrance examinations (known as rōnin in colloquial Japanese) to take them the following year are also common. Such students may spend up to eighteen hours a day studying to retake their tests. Students who attend regular after-school cram schools may study four hours or more.
As the name suggests, the aim of a cram school is to impart as much information to its students as possible in the shortest period of time. The goal is to enable the students to "parrot," that is, to unthinkingly repeat, information that is deemed necessary for particular examinations. Cram schools are sometimes criticised, along with the countries in which they are prevalent, for the lack of training their students' critical thinking and analysis. However many believe that they are necessary to compensate for the formal education system's inability or unwillingness to address particular individual problems.
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