[EDITORIALS]0.1 short of reasonable

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[EDITORIALS]0.1 short of reasonable

We are dumfounded at the disputes about admissions to Seoul National University this year. Our concerns about the "rounding off" of the College Scholastic Ability Test scores came to pass. Now we see college admissions staff giving acceptance letters to students while rejecting others who scored higher on the entrance test. How can we have any confidence in such a system?

The Education Ministry belatedly said it would review the system next year, but the problems were already pointed out last year, and the ministry sat on its hands.

The total CSAT score is a sum of points earned from four sections, and points are given for each question, with a different number of points for questions with different degrees of difficulty. The scores of the four sections are posted to one decimal place; the breakdown of points and the total score are given to the test-takers. But universities receive a report in which the scores for the four tests are rounded off to the nearest whole number. Universities total the scores of the four sections to use in their admissions deliberations, and it is possible that a student's actual score is higher than the score used by universities.

That is what happened this year. Two applicants at Seoul National University, whose original test scores were lower than a third applicant, were accepted while the one with the higher score before rounding was rejected. The Education Ministry explained that it rounded off the scores to allow colleges to reflect other factors other than CSAT scores in their admission processes. Does that sound reasonable?

Many universities, including Seoul National University, select a significant number of their students during the first screening stage by comparing CSAT scores. What will the ministry do for victimized applicants?

The "rounding off" issue was raised last year, but the ministry said smugly it could do nothing about it, and in any case a new system will be introduced in the 2005 academic year. The government is cold to the plight of some gifted students. Let's hope that the revised system the ministry is drawing up will be fairer than the current one.
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