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More schools relying on CSAT for admissions

Nov 20,2009
The College Scholastic Aptitude Test, which was administered a week ago, has become increasingly important as more universities have come to rely on it as their primary criteria for admissions in recent years.

The number of schools using CSAT scores as their sole criteria for admissions has risen over the past three years. This year, the number of such schools rose from 71 to 81. That’s a big jump considering that there were just 11 schools using the test as the sole criteria to determine their admissions in 2008.

At Seoul National University, for example, the humanities and engineering departments in will double the number of admitted students in the first phase of its screening process, and will base its decision on applicants’ CSAT scores. In the second phase of the screening process, applications will be scored with 50 percent of the weight given to high school records, 30 percent to an essay test and 20 percent to CSAT scores. The school has abolished the interview portion of the application process for this year.

Meanwhile, Yonsei University has scrapped its essay test for humanities department applicants, while its rival Korea University has scrapped the test for applicants to both the humanities and engineering departments.

Sogang University said it will increase the number of students selected on the basis of their CSAT scores to 60 percent, from 50 percent. Other top schools such as Korea, Yonsei, Sungkyunkwan and Hanyang universities have also upped the percentage from 50 percent to 70 percent.

This year’s CSAT had a lower level of difficulty compared to tests from previous years, increasing the already tight competition for enrollment. Therefore, test takers with the highest scores will need to submit other materials such as high school records, essays or interview results to gain an edge over students with similar scores.

“The final-term exam for high school seniors will be a decisive factor for students who want to be admitted to top schools,” said Choi Byeong-gi, a teacher at Yeongdeungpo Girl’s High School and a member of the Korean Council for University Education.

Korean universities have a dual system for student recruiting. One is early admission, which takes place before the annual CSAT is administered, and the other is regular admission. Schools have been increasing the number of slots allocated to applicants for early admission since they prefer to recruit qualified students in advance. As a result, the number of students to be selected for regular admission will shrink by 7,945 compared with last year to 158,625, accounting for 41.2 percent of the total spots available. But since the number of CSAT takers rose by 88,990 this year from last, the overall competition ratio is expected to grow.

In the regular admission procedure, schools are divided into three groups - Ga, Na and Da - and students are only allowed to apply to one school in each group, meaning they can apply to up to three schools.

Groups Ga and Na include the top schools in the nation. Some universities such as Sungkyunkwan and Hankuk University of Foreign Studies place different departments into different groups.

Experts advise students who want to be safe to apply to at least one school to which they are sure to be admitted.



By Seo Ji-eun, Lee Jong-chan [spring@joongang.co.kr]



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