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Second-time Suneung takers on the rise

The proportion of those who sat for South Korea’s college entrance exam for the second time has increased among the total number of test takers over the past three years, a report said Sunday.

According to a report submitted by the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation at the request of Rep. Ahn Min-suk of The Minjoo Party of Korea, 136,900 high school graduates last year sat the College Scholastic Ability Test, also known as Suneung. The figure accounted for 21.56 percent of the total test applicants, up from 19.61 percent in 2013. 

High school seniors students study for the state-administered College Scholastic Ability Test, which is slated for November. Yonhap
High school seniors students study for the state-administered College Scholastic Ability Test, which is slated for November. Yonhap

Since 1993, South Korean students have taken a standardized college entrance exam every November, a process including a CSAT, interviews and essays. CSAT grades are seen as the most decisive factor in who enters top-tier universities, which has led a number of Korean students to sit the annual exam multiple times to get a higher score.

Rep. Ahn, member of the parliamentary Education, Culture and Sports Committee, pointed to a lack of careers education as the reason behind the increase in the number of those who apply to repeat the CSAT exam while being fully enrolled at universities.

According to the report, 17.2 percent of 294,855 new students at 153 universities in the 2014 school year dropped out or took a year of absence.

“It is estimated that the growth in the number of (high school) graduates who took the CSAT again happened because they did not enter the college they wanted,” the lawmaker said. “But it is also because they lacked education on their future career during high school years, chose a major without thinking about it much and decided to take the CSAT again (to change their major).”



By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)
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