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606,000 students take college entrance exam

Some 606,000 high school seniors and graduates in South Korea took the state-administered annual college entrance exam Thursday, as the government implemented various traffic control and anti-noise measures near nationwide testing sites.

A total of 605,987 students, down about 25,200 from last year, registered to take the standardized College Scholastic Ability Test that was administered at 1,183 testing sites, according to the Ministry of Education. 

Emotional support for the test-takers (Yonhap)
Emotional support for the test-takers (Yonhap)

Similar to the American Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the exam is considered the most crucial test of students' academic careers and seen as the deciding factor in their choice of college and future professions.

The exam, which consists mostly of multiple-choice questions, is divided into five sections -- Korean language, mathematics, English, social and natural sciences, and a second foreign language. Starting this year, all test-takers must take a separate Korean history exam during the social and natural sciences test time.

A test-taker arrives on police patrol bike. (Yonhap)
A test-taker arrives on police patrol bike. (Yonhap)

The test started at 8:30 a.m. with a plan to run through 5:40 p.m., including lunch and breaks, the ministry said.

As in previous years, the government imposed various traffic control and anti-noise measures as part of its efforts to ensure that the test be executed without any problems.

Subways and trains in the capital area extended their rush hour services by two hours to help all exam-takers arrive at the test sites on time. Bus operations were also expanded during the commuting time.

The stock markets will open for trade one hour late, while government offices and enterprises in nearby areas also plan to open an hour later than usual to keep the roads clear for students on their way to the test centers, it said.

Police said they will mobilize 14,000 officers to support the ministry running the exam, while offering to transport students in need of a ride by patrol cars or on the back of motorcycles.

Test applicants were banned from having electronic devices, including mobile phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, electronic calculators and smartwatches, at their desks to prevent possible cheating, the ministry said.

The applicants will be individually notified of their test results on Dec. 7, according to the ministry. (Yonhap)

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