While watching anime, especially ones that focus on slice-of-life or high school, I often come across a test paper containing a character's score. However, it is interesting to note that the correct answers are circled while the wrong ones are ticked (checked?). As far as I know, ticks are for correct answers and circles are for incorrect answers (unless I've been living in a shell, which would be embarrassing).

Four Girls and an Idol

The image is from The World God Only Knows OVA: Four Girls and an Idol, where Keima Katsuragi intentionally placed an incorrect answer for question #1. As you can see, it is checked while the rest are circled. Does this mirror how Japan marks the test papers of students? If so, why?

  • I didn't know which tag to use because I'm not familiar with all of them. Please edit it if you know a more suitable tag for the question. – romcom_god Dec 27 '14 at 10:43
  • I haven't seen The World God Only Knows yet, nor do I know how the Japanese honestly mark their test papers, however I had to pick up on your conclusive If so, why? - If so, why wouldn't they? That's like asking why there was a Kangaroo in an Australian film, instead of a Polar Bear. So, granted the answer to this question is yes, then there shouldn't be need for explanation. – user8287 Dec 27 '14 at 11:03
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    This is more a japanese culture question that an anime question, but it is indeed the case that Japanese teachers use tick-marks for marking errors and a circles for marking correct answer, which is the opposite from how teachers in most western culturs do it. – Philipp Dec 27 '14 at 12:22
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    The rules say if it is not directly related to anime/manga. But the question is related to a anime and there are also enough animes (example K-On like in an answer below) that include such a test paper where such a question could appear. So I would say on-topic! – Gerret Dec 27 '14 at 21:01
  • interesting ... i have'nt encounter that episode maybe i missed that . – オレンジ Dec 31 '14 at 3:04

Yes, this does mirror how Japan marks the test papers of students. Let's see an example each of a marked test paper in anime and in real life Japan:

Yui Hirasawa's abysmal math test score

Sample of a graded arithmetic drill

Circles and crosses indicate right and wrong answers, but you'll often see check marks used in place of crosses to save time and effort. Check marks are sometimes called reten for bearing resemblance to the katakana re, but should not be confused with the return marker reten that annotate Classical Chinese. Check marks call forth the attention of students to incorrect answers, which they should check again.

The check mark as an error mark also sees usage in countries like Korea and Sweden, but as you can gather from the discussions on Reddit and Wikipedia, there really is no universal standard for marking right and wrong answers even within a country. The graders may choose whatever the mark they want. My teachers in school thought that ticking off wrong answers wastes too much ink, so they just cheaply impressed a dot by the wrong answers.

Occasionally, you might also encounter the flower circle, double circle and triangle marks, which denote, respectively, perfect, good and average (poor) work done by the students.


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    You should provide a little explanation here. You only stated that it is true that they use maru for true and batsu for false. You could provide a summary from the link you posted. – Gerret Dec 27 '14 at 21:07

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