Record-breaking figures in CSAT results

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Record-breaking figures in CSAT results

The number of students who received perfect scores on the Math B and the English sections of the annual College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) was the highest ever, educational authorities announced Tuesday morning, when the exam’s scores were released.

Math B was taken by those aspiring to major in mathematics, engineering and science at university. In Korea, high school students are divided into two tracks: those who choose to specialize in general science and those who opt for liberal arts. CSAT subjects are broken up into A and B sections, which are designed around those majors.

General science majors are required to complete Korean A and Math B on the CSAT, while liberal arts students must take Korean B and Math A.

Tuesday’s announcement, made by the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE), a government organization that oversees the administration of the CSAT, included the number of students who received perfect scores in each subject.

The CSAT is based on a relative grading system in which students are divided into nine groups in each subject based on their scores, with one being the highest. The final score distribution for each of the nine groups in each subject was also announced.

The Math B section was easier than the year before, with 4.3 percent of all test-takers receiving full points compared to just 0.58 percent last year. The figure was in stark contrast to other sections, too - Korean A (1.37 percent), Korean B (0.09 percent), Math A (2.54 percent), Math B (4.3 percent) and English (3.37 percent).

Getting a single question wrong in the Math B section could potentially place a student in the second group among the nine. The English section was also seen as the easiest yet. The percentage of test-takers who got perfect scores was 0.7 percent higher than the second-highest record of 2.67 in 2012.

Out of all subjects in the CSAT this year, Korean B was the hardest, and only 280 students out of 310,905 test-takers - or 0.09 percent - got all the questions correct.

KICE belatedly acknowledged multiple answers as correct for question No. 8 on the second biology test last month, but despite the extra points, only 64 students out of 30,933 received perfect marks, putting that percentage at 0.21 percent.

Test scores will be individually reported to students Wednesday, and based on that numeric data, students entering college in the spring semester of 2015 will begin the application process. Results for regular admission will be announced by universities by late January.

Controversy around the CSAT flared in late October when the Ministry of Education admitted that a question in the world geography section on last year’s CSAT had been miscalculated, and that students who failed to be admitted to universities because of that question would be given a second chance at admissions.

Last month, education authorities said multiple answers will be recognized for two disputed questions on this year’s CSAT. In a country where a single exam question can change a student’s chances of being accepted to a certain university, the announcement outraged college-bound students and prompted authorities to take additional measures to overhaul the current system.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [selee@joongang.co.kr]

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