A state-administered English exam for high school students will not be held this year, Ministry of Education officials said Wednesday.
The ministry has canceled the level 2 and 3 administration of the National English Ability Test, or NEAT, citing high operational costs and low demand from colleges to use it for their admission procedures.
While the level 2 and 3 exams, targeted at high school students, have been canceled, the level 1 exam for adults will be held as planned.
“Demand for NEAT has gone down after the government scrapped its plan to use the exam for the college entrance exam. We found that many exam takers were finding the test less meaningful,” said Yoo Jung-ki, English education team manager at the ministry.
NEAT was launched in 2012 to develop a local English test so that schools and companies depend less on foreign exams such as TOEFL and TOEIC. About 42.5 billion won ($38 million) was poured into the development of the new test from scratch over four years since 2008.
Skepticism over the prospects of the locally developed exam ran high in August last year when the government reversed its plan to substitute NEAT for the English section of the College Scholastic Ability Test from 2016.
The Education Ministry said it has no plan to throw away the costly project but the number of applicants remained below the ministry’s expectations, with only 424 students taking the test in July last year.
NEAT is held twice a year in June and July before the admission period. Up to 36 colleges accepted NEAT scores for 2014 spring admissions.
By Suk Gee-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)