CSAT English mock exam ‘too easy,’ critics say

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CSAT English mock exam ‘too easy,’ critics say

After the government announced earlier this year that the English section of the nation’s annual university entrance examination, the College Scholastic Ability Test slated for Nov. 13, will be less difficult than last year, a mock test held Thursday suggested that it may be “too easy,” according to local education pundits.

At Whimoon High School in Gangnam, southern Seoul, around 30 percent of the nearly 460 test-takers received a perfect score, said Shin Jong-chan, an educational consultant at the school. “I’ve never seen an easier English test on the previous CSATs or mock tests,” he added.

“Students who usually score 60 to 70 on English saw their marks soar to 80 to 90,” said a teacher from Kangdong High School in Gangdong District, southeastern Seoul. “I’m worried [the test results] may distract their studies,” the teacher added, expressing concern that students might believe their proficiency in English is higher than it actually is.

Last week’s mock test was held by the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE), a governing body in charge of administering the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT). The exams, which are held twice a year - in June and September - are seen as barometers that predict the upcoming CSAT’s difficulty level.

A total of 628,194 examinees took the mock test last week, including 555,372 12th graders and 72,822 high-school graduates.

“It was way too easy,” said Kim Ki-han, head of the Megastudy Education Research Institute, adding that it was “absolutely of no help” to test-takers.

“Through the super-vital June mock test, students learn about their weaknesses and redesign their study plans to meet better outcomes on the actual CSAT,” said Kim. “From that perspective, the KICE did a terrible job recognizing this significance.”

The education authority said in a press release last Thursday that they “set the exam questions on basic and essential matters,” adding that they “avoided asking questions about biased and minor elements.”

“The English section’s level of difficulty was somewhere between last year’s ‘A’ test and ‘B’ test,” the press release specified, pointing out that the move was in accordance with the institute’s earlier announcement that the English-language section would be easier than on previous exams.

KICE confirmed that the English section will return to the old, single system for the Nov. 13 CSAT. Last year, the subject was split into an “A” test and a more difficult “B” test. This year, there will only be one test.

BY KIM SUNG-TAK, SHIN JIN AND LEE SUNG-EUN [selee@joongang.co.kr]

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