May 06

St. Mary’s Review


St. Mary’s International School is a K-12 boys only Catholic school in Futako-Tamagawa, Tokyo, offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. For the 1000 boys that attend St. Mary’s, the primary language of instruction is English.

Considered as one of the big 4 international schools in Tokyo (The American School in Japan, Seisen, Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s), St. Mary’s was founded in 1954 to serve international students living in Tokyo, and Japanese students seeking a Western, English-medium education. The legacy of rich cultural and religious diversity continues today as the school educates students of American, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and Korean descent. 

St. Mary’s has an incredibly strong alumni network, and successful alumni often visit the school to speak with current students. These opportunities can be particularly beneficial to students when alumni come to speak who have built careers in that students’ specific area of interest.


St. Mary’s International School seeks students from the international community who will benefit from its college-preparatory curriculum. Students are admitted on the basis of transcripts from previous schools, standardized test results, a screening test and a personal interview with the prospective student and parents. Despite being a Catholic school, students do not have to be Catholic to attend.

In addition, St. Mary’s operates a “Corporate Contribution Program” to grant free attendance to students whose foreign parents are employed by the foreign companies or organizations that participate in the program. Through the program, St. Mary’s solicits contributions from parents, friends, companies and alumni for school upkeep and to maintain the high level of its education. The Japanese tax authorities exempt these donations from taxation as personal income in Japan.

The Corporate Contribution Program of St. Mary’s International School is based on the Contribution Program approved for The American School in Japan (ASIJ) by the National Tax Agency of Japan in 1978. Currently some ten schools, including St. Mary’s, utilize the program annually.



St. Mary’s provides a liberal arts, college-preparatory program that is specifically designed to meet the educational and developmental needs of boys. 

In Elementary School, the curriculum is built around the three pillars of academics, physical education and religion and ethics. Alongside the core subjects, the school provides specialist teachers and an outstanding array of facilities. Students can experience painting, drawing, print-making, ceramics, sculpture, and vocal and instrumental music, as well as classes in Japanese language, physical education and swimming. In addition, St. Mary’s Elementary has a comprehensive modern computing curriculum, which encourages students to use technology in an effective and appropriate manner.

In Middle School, students study Design & Technology, Fine Arts, Language Arts (English) Mathematics, Physical Education, Religion/Ethics, Science, Social Studies and World Languages (Japanese or French). In addition, students in grades 7 and 8 can choose between a number of electives, listed below:

  • Choir
  • Band
  • Art
  • Drama
  • Debate
  • Film
  • STEM-SIMS (simulations of laboratory experiments and engineering projects, 7th grade only)
  • Statistics for Fun (8th grade only)
  • Design Technology
  • Robotics
  • Tama River Study.Fishing (7th grade only)
  • Junkyard Band (8th Grade only)

There is also a Student Resource department that provides support for students who are learning English as a second language 

In High School, each grade level is divided into homerooms of approximately 15 students. These homerooms serve as small communities to ensure that every student is supported through a variety of adult and peer connections. Academically, the focus is on the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program, although the full prospectus on high school academic programs can be found here. Before a student reaches the 11th Grade, he will be asked to decide whether he wishes to enroll in the IB Diploma. A path is decided with consultation from teachers, college counselors, and the IB coordinator, although at Tokyo Academics we strongly encourage all of the students we work with to pursue the full IB Diploma if at all possible.

Students enrolled in the Diploma Program will take six IB subjects over two years, and are required to offer one subject from each of the six groups:

  • Group 1: Studies in Language and Literature
  • Group 2: Language Acquisition
  • Group 3: Individuals and Societies
  • Group 4: Sciences
  • Group 5: Mathematics
  • Group 6: The Arts

A student not wishing to take a Group 6 subject can replace it with a subject from Groups 1 – 4. Additionally, a Group 2 subject can be replaced with another subject from Group 1. At least three and not more than four of the six subjects are taken at the Higher Level, the others at the Standard Level.

Additionally, Diploma candidates take a philosophy-based course called Theory of Knowledge, they must write a 4000 word research paper called the Extended Essay in a subject of their choice, and must be involved in Creativity, Action, and Service programs throughout the two year Diploma program. At the completion of each IB course, students take exams which come from the IB Organization. All IB students around the world take the same exams, and they are marked by people from outside of this school.

More details about the Diploma Program, and specific details and requirements to achieve it, can be found on the International Baccalaureate website.


Leadership, Extracurriculars and Sports

A number of after school activities are offered at St. Mary’s, and these are tailor to accommodate the needs and interests of each school level:

In Elementary School, students can take part in basketball, baseball, soccer, ball hockey, intramurals, drama and board games. Students are also welcome to use the Library and the Computer Room after school, and may join the swim team provided they are approved by the instructors. Students from 4th grade onwards also take part in an annual ski trip to St. Mary’s ski lodge in Gunma prefecture, as part of the regular academic program.

In the Middle School, students begin to take part in inter-scholastic competitions spread across three seasons. St. Mary’s competes with other schools that are members of the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary School Principals (KPASSP). St. Mary’s teams — called the Titans — are competitive, winning many titles in the past several years. The vast majority of students also participate in St. Mary’s Creative and Fine Arts Program, through music groups, visual arts or dramatics. The school’s choirs are particularly strong and several of the groups are globally recognized, performing at international events and concert venues. Finally, St. Mary’s is widely regarded as having Japan’s number 1 debate program, and the team travels internationally to compete with other schools. Students in the debate program at St. Mary’s are typically strong achievers and highly motivated, so debate is typically a prized extracurricular activity for aspirational boys, seeking to be part of a group that motivates each other academically and in extracurriculars.

The full list of extracurricular activities by section is given below:

Middle School extracurriculars:

  • Soccer
  • Cross-country
  • Swimming
  • Drama
  • Art and design club
  • Robotics
  • Brain Bowl
  • Math Competitions
  • Board games
  • Basketball
  • Wrestling
  • Rugby club
  • Baseball
  • Track

High School extracurriculars:

  • Speech
  • Debate
  • Drama
  • Brain Bowl
  • Musical
  • International Show Choir
  • math contest
  • Instrumental music
  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Cross country
  • Soccer
  • Track and field
  • Intramurals
  • Ball hockey
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Wrestling
  • Weight-lifting.



70% of St. Mary’s high school students sit for the full IB Diploma Program, and of these students 90% are successful in obtaining the Diploma. In 2020, the average Diploma score at St. Mary’s was a 35 (out of 45), compared to a mean of 30 for all candidates globally.

In Higher Level (HL) IB examinations in 2020 (and excluding Japanese subjects), St. Mary’s students did best in:

  • Physics (6.36 out of 7, global mean 5.29)
  • Mathematics (6.09, global mean 5.05
  • English A: Literature (6.00, global mean 4.84
  • French B (6.00, global mean 5.27
  • Chemistry (6.00, global mean 4.92)

In Higher Level (HL) IB examinations in 2020, St. Mary’s students did worst in:

  • Information Technology for a Global Society (4.33, global mean 4.49)
  • Biology (4.88, global mean 4.72)
  • Economics (5.30, global mean 5.34)

Overall, these results are strong and demonstrate that St. Mary’s students perform better than the average IB candidate globally.

With regards to standardised testing, in the most recent cycle St. Mary’s students averaged a 602 on the SAT® Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) sections, and a 673 on the Mathematics Section (1275 total score). This compares to a 528 average on the ERW and a 523 average on the Math section (1051 total) across all SAT® candidates globally.

Finally, regarding college matriculation, Roughly 56% of the class of 2020 applied to universities in the U.S., 15% in Japan, 12% in the U.K. and 1% in Europe. 66% of students applied to universities in two or more countries. All students from the class of 2020 are attending three or four-year institutions.

Notable universities that St. Mary’s graduates in 2020 went on to attend include:

  • Dartmouth College (USA)
  • Fashion Institute of Technology (USA)
  • Johns Hopkins University (USA)
  • Keio University (Japan)
  • The London School of Economics (UK)
  • New York University (USA)
  • Princeton University (USA)
  • The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (China)
  • University College London (UK)
  • University of California, Berkeley (USA)
  • University of California, Los Angeles (USA)
  • University of Cambridge (UK)
  • University of Tokyo (Japan)
  • Waseda University (Japan)

The information in this report comes from the experiences of St. Mary’s students, the expertise of Tokyo Academics educators who work with students from St. Mary’s on a regular basis, The Good Schools Guide International and the St. Mary’s International School webpage.

SAT® is a trademark owned by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse Tokyo Academics.

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