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No. of Suneung takers at record low, share of repeat takers at 17-year high

Final-year students at a high school in Gwangjuearlier this month prepare to take the September mock test of the upcoming annual college entrance exam slated for Dec. 3. (Yonhap)
Final-year students at a high school in Gwangjuearlier this month prepare to take the September mock test of the upcoming annual college entrance exam slated for Dec. 3. (Yonhap)
The number of those registered to take the annual college entrance exam fell to its lowest level in history this year, while the proportion of repeat takers rose to the highest. 

According to the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, the number of applicants for the College Scholastic Aptitude Test, or the Suneung, reached 493,433, down 55,301 from 548,734 a year earlier. It is the lowest figure since the national exam was introduced in 1994.

Taking place once a year, the Suneung will be held nationwide on Dec. 3, two weeks later than originally schedule due to the coronavirus outbreak. A total of 346,673 high school seniors have registered to sit the test, 12 percent fewer than a year earlier. 

The number of repeat takers also dropped 6.5 percent to 133,069 this year, but their proportion among the entire group of applicants was up 1.1 percentage points to 27 percent, the highest in 17 years. 

Experts expected the proportion of repeaters to be higher on the day of the actual exam, given the relatively high no-show rates of high school students. 

Seoul-based private evaluation and test provider Jongro Academy analyzed that the drop in the number of Suneung takers could help lower the bar in admissions of some universities. Repeat takers are likely to have an upper hand against high school seniors taking the Suneung for the first time, it added.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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