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This year’s CSATs were as tough as the kids said

Dec 08,2010
This year’s College Scholastic Ability Test was a tough one, with the number of students getting perfect scores plummeting.

And although the test writers promised in advance that 70 percent of the questions would come from lessons in workbooks published by a government-run education television channel, EBS, even the students who pored over those texts had a hard time.

“We will accept the criticism that when students worked on the questions they did not feel much connection to the workbooks of EBS,” Kim Seong-yeol, chief of Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, said yesterday.

Releasing the test results yesterday, the institute said the number of students who received perfect scores sharply decreased.

In mathematics, only 35 students aced the exam, down from 463 in 2009; for the Korean language test, only 403 got all answers correct, down from 1,558 last year; in English, the number dipped from 4,642 last year to 1,383.

Only 11 students got perfect scores in all three major subjects compared to 19 last year.

Analysts said the drop in the number of students with perfect scores favors the high achievers.

“Students in the upper rank should easily get admission to top universities because more students are crowded in the middle,” said Lee Chi-wu of Visang Education, an education consultancy. “But we will see what happens because this year’s openings for regular admission, in which candidates are selected by test scores and essays, have shrunk at three prestigious schools, Seoul National University, Yonsei University and Korea University. All three have decided to choose more students through the special admission process, which relies more on interviews and resumes.”

The institute also places students’ raw test scores on a bell curve, leading to a “standard score.” Because of the curve, standard scores rise in years when the tests are difficult and drop when they’re easy.

The institute said this year’s standard scores dramatically increased. The average standard score in the mathematics test, which students said was hard, jumped 11 points over 2009, while the standard score on the Korean test rose six points and English two.

In response to criticism over the difficulty of the tests this year, the institute said yesterday that next year’s will be easier.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]



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