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Students win college entrance exam case

An appeals court said Thursday one of the questions from last year’s college entrance exam, the Suneung, had a defect, ruling in favor of four test-takers who requested that the grading on the cited question should be nullified.

The four plaintiffs had challenged a question on 2013 the Suneung’s world geography exam concerning the gross domestic product of member counties of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the European Union. The students were asked to pick two out of four choices, but only one of the selections contained a fact.

Four students filed legal actions against the Education Minister and the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation ― which is in charge of making Suneung questions ― to nullify their grading, which included the results of the cited question.

“The purpose of the college entrance exam is to find out if a student has the ability to pursue knowledge at college, which means the answer must be something that is compatible with the objective truth,” the Seoul High Court said in its ruling. “Since there are no right answers for this question, the KICE’s decision (that there is a correct answer) is illegal.”

The court made it clear that the ruling only applies for those four students, and not all the 37,684 students who took the geography test. But there is a possibility that the rest of the students who got the wrong answer ― a little less than half of the test-takers got it right ― may also pursue legal actions against KICE.

The Education Ministry had not commented on the issue as of Thursday, and an official from KICE said it would confer with the ministry before deciding whether or not to launch an appeal.

Last December, the Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favor of KICE, saying that students should not have had any difficulties making the right choice since one of the selections included a definite fact.

By Yoon Min-sik (