College exams urged to adopt new grading system

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Apr 14, 2014 - 20:36
  • Updated : Apr 14, 2014 - 20:36
The English test for the national college entrance exam in Korea should be scored on an absolute grading scale, an English education professor said in a statement, Monday.

Lee Byung-min, professor of English education at Seoul National University, said the current grading system encourages private education by fueling excessive competition among students.

He added that relative grading forces test makers to create abnormal test questions that students are likely to miss, making it easier to sort students by grade.

The current grading system for South Korea’s national college exam, known here as suneung, evaluates students based on the performance of others who take the exam. The scores are then assigned one of nine ratings, with grade one being the highest.

Under the relative grading system, the percentage of students who can receive a grade of one is limited to the top 4 percent of test takers. With absolute grading, however, anyone who puts in the effort can receive a high score, motivating students to work harder, Lee said.

Lee also pointed out that moving to an absolute grading system can reduce the reliance on private education. If the difficulty of the English test is properly adjusted, students can be adequately prepared for the test through their school studies.

The professor will discuss the advantages of the absolute grading system for the suneung at an educational policy forum to be hosted by the Korean Educational Development Institute in Seoul on Tuesday.

An official at the Education Ministry said the forum is not directly related to government policies on college entrance.

By Suh Ye-seul (