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Simplified English exam leads to CSAT changes

Mar 29,2014
The Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, a governing body in charge of administering the nation’s university entrance examination, yesterday confirmed guidelines for this fall’s test and set the examination date as Nov. 13.

One of the most noticeable changes lies in the English section, which will return to the old, single system. Last year, the subject was split into an “A” test and a more difficult “B” test. But this year there will only be one test.

The education authority also said that the English level on the College Scholastic Ability Test will be easier than on previous exams. The length of the reading passages will also be shortened and the number of inference questions will be trimmed - parts of the exam that are considered by many to be challenging.

“We will reduce the number of those questions from seven to four, which many found to be the most challenging last year,” said Lee Yang-rak, vice president of the institution.

“The level will be between last year’s level A and B,” he continued, “We are also going to include shorter lengths for the reading passages and choices.”

Seventy percent of the English test will be based on courses and workbooks made by the Education Broadcasting System. EBS, a state-run educational television channel, broadcasts supplemental learning material and makes workbooks for the CSAT.

The composition of the English questions will also be changed.

“We’ve decided to trim the number of listening questions from 17 to 12, and five questions will be added to the reading section,” said Cho Yong-gi, director of CSAT policy division, said.

The other segments - Korean language and mathematics - will maintain their two-track system this year, but the Ministry of Education said that it is also considering turning both into single tests.

The reversion is aimed at keeping the college entrance system as simple as possible and reducing confusion for parents and students.

“The idea of offering two versions of the test has drawn criticism from the beginning,” said Education Minister Seo Nam-soo last year.

“The system makes things complicated when conducting mock examinations, as well as for universities and high school teachers.”

Education experts said that Korean language and mathematics will carry more weight next year, as the English section will become easier.

“For liberal arts students, their scores in Korean will play an important role,” said Lee Man-ki, who works for the university admissions consultation company Uway.

BY CHUN IN-SUNG [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]




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