Thousands turn out nationwide for Samsung test

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Thousands turn out nationwide for Samsung test

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Students file out of Dankook University High School yesterday in Daechi-dong, Gangnam District, southern Seoul, after taking the Samsung Aptitude Test. Tens of thousands of young Koreans took the test yesterday at 85 venues across the country and three centers in North America. It was the first SSAT test after Samsung Group withdrew a plan aimed at reducing the costs for preparing for and hosting the standardized test. [NEWS1]

Tens of thousands of young Koreans flocked to take the Samsung Aptitude Test yesterday, nearly three months after the nation’s largest conglomerate withdrew a plan to reduce the social costs associated with preparing for and hosting the standardized exam.

A total of 85 venues nationwide, plus three centers in North America, hosted aspiring Samsung employees for the three-hour test, an official from the group said.

Approximately 100,000 people applied, Samsung said, though it declined to disclose the exact turn-out.

More than 90 percent of the SSAT applicants were presumed to have taken the test.

Test moderators were estimated to number as many as 10,000, although the conglomerate would not confirm the official figure.

Approximately the same number of students and overseers are estimated to have been involved in the SSAT in October, which the group initially wanted to be the largest SSAT day of its kind.

The country’s largest and most influential chaebol announced a plan in January to overhaul its recruitment system, partly due to the rising social costs related to the biannual test.

According to SSAT cram schools, students spend more than 10 billion won ($9.65 million) annually to prepare for the test, while the exam is reported to cost Samsung more than 2.5 billion won per year in preparations. Many college students take advantage of the expensive cram schools as early as their freshman year to raise their chances of getting a job at Samsung Group, the most coveted brand among Korea’s corporate-career seekers.

Since 1995, Samsung has minimized its paper screening process for the exam, and almost all SSAT applicants have taken the test. Under the plan in January, the conglomerate considered toughening its requirements to reduce the number of people qualified to take the test.

However, it backtracked from that plan after its proposed university quota system - one of the elements in its newly announced plan - drew strong public outcry for its potential to rank and enslave universities. The quota system would have allowed the presidents of local universities to recommend top talent to the group, which it dubbed as a “new approach.”

The recommended students would have then been able to take the SSAT without being screened. According to the group, about 80,000 people applied for college-graduate spots at Samsung in the first half of the recruitment trial, while 20,000 others applied for internships. The conglomerate said earlier that it will hire 9,000 college graduates this year.

Around 4,000 college graduates are expected to land a job in the first half of the year, while about 3,000 will get an internship.

The SSAT yesterday will likely reduce the number of applicants to three times the number of hires, according to a source.

The third and final step in the process of becoming a Samsung employee is an interview with the group’s executives.

BY MOON GWANG-LIP [joe@joongang.co.kr]




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