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Competition heats up for Samsung, Hyundai Motor entrance exams

More than 110,000 job seekers to take tests over weekend

After months of preparation and studying, more than 110,000 job seekers will take the entrance exams for the nation’s top two conglomerates ― Samsung Group and Hyundai Motor Group ― this weekend.

“The zeal for these tests seems to be higher than that for university exams that I took four years ago,” said a 23-year-old senior at Seoul National University who plans to take the test on Sunday.

About 90,000 applicants are expected to take the Samsung Aptitude Test, popularly known as the SSAT, which will be held Sunday nationwide, as well as in three cities in the United States and Canada. 


“More than 3 out of 10 job seekers are believed to take the SSAT. It’s almost like a national test,” said a Samsung executive on condition of anonymity.

Since 1995, Samsung has opened the test to all applicants who meet the minimum conditions such as a college grade point average above 3.0.

The SSAT consists of five subjects: numerical reasoning, language, deductive reasoning, general knowledge and spatial visualization.

In hopes of joining the nation’s highest-paying company, most college students here prepare for the SSAT for months or even years. Many of them create study groups to dig into the test questions, while some turn to cram schools specializing in the SSAT.

“Knowing that applicants are graded on a curve, it is stressful to compete against thousands of others,” said the 23-year-old candidate.

This weekend’s SSAT is grabbing more attention since it is the last chance open to all applicants to join Samsung, as it recently decided to shortlist the test-takers based on an initial document evaluation, beginning from the second half of this year. 

The company plans to first conduct an in-depth evaluation of an applicant's personality and on-site experiences to select those eligible to take the SSAT. Those who pass the SSAT will then face intensified interviews, according to Samsung sources.

“The whole process has become cumbersome as it requires considerable resources,” the Samsung executive said, referring to the pressure the group receives from the soaring number of applicants.

“The new changes will help lower overall employment costs on a social level.”

Some 200,000 people take the SSAT every year, while some 20,000 applicants take Hyundai’s entrance exam.

Big businesses are also closely watching the changes in Samsung’s hiring system as they have to compete to secure talented workers.

Hyundai, the second-largest conglomerate in Korea, plans to hold the Hyundai Motor Group Aptitude Test, also known as HMAT, in six cities nationwide on Saturday.

The HMAT includes six categories: verbal understanding, logical reasoning, data interpretation, data inference, spatial reasoning and personality evaluation and an essay on history ― which is a unique feature of the Hyundai exam.

By Sohn Ji-young