• adolescence;
  • depression;
  • examination-related stressors;
  • Japan;
  • sense of coherence


In the Japanese education system, students who fail university entrance exam often go to special preparatory schools to prepare for the following year's exam. These students are called ronin-sei. The purpose of this study was to clarify: (i) depression and somatic complaints in ronin-sei; and (ii) the association between depression, examination-related stressors, and sense of coherence (SOC).


A total of 914 ronin-sei from two preparatory schools were asked to answer a self-rating questionnaire. Depression was measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and SOC was measured using the SOC-13 Scale.


Overall, 57.9% of subjects were considered to have depression (CES-D ≥ 16) and 19.8% had severe depression (CES-D ≥ 26). Higher CES-D scores were associated with a higher rate of somatic complaints. In hierarchical logistic regression analysis, having no one to talk to about his/her worries and having parents who disagree about the first-choice of university and faculty were independent risk factors for depression and severe depression, respectively, even after controlling for SOC.


Preparatory school students have various somatic complaints, and their depression is in part related to examination-related stressors. To maintain mental health, it is important to enhance SOC, to understand their examination-related stressors and to provide adequate support for these students.