YOUNG PEOPLE in Finland enjoy one of the world’s best school systems. By the age of 15 they perform well above average in international tests of science, reading and maths. That makes it all the more galling that once they leave school, their progress often comes to a halt. In America 90% of those who begin bachelor’s degrees do so in the same year they finish school. In Finland only 20% do.

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Highly selective admissions are one explanation. Universities have traditionally made applicants pass long-winded entrance exams, in addition to tests they take at school. Excelling at both in the same

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