At Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII), in Tokyo, a research team is trying to create an artificial intelligence program that has enough smarts to pass Japan’s most rigorous entrance exams, reports IEEE Spectrum’s Eliza Strickland. The AI will start by taking the standardized test administered to all secondary school students; once it masters that test, it will move on to the more difficult University of Tokyo exam, she writes.

Strickland continues the story with an interview with Noriko Arai, the team leader and a professor at NII. Arai notes that, by having the AI answer real questions from the exams, “we can compare the current state-of-the-art AI technology with 18-year-old students.”

Plans are for the Todai Robot, named for the University of Tokyo’s local nickname, to achieve a high score on the national standardized test by 2016, with the help of machine-learning and natural-language-processing tools Arai’s team is developing for that test. Reportedly, its NLP skills shine so far in the subject of history. The Todai exam, however, departs from the multiple-choice format to include written essays, and while the team hopes the AI will pass the Todai exam by 2021, it’s still working on how.

Read the full story here.