Committee announces plan to improve college entrance test

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Committee announces plan to improve college entrance test

A government-designated committee released a plan Tuesday to improve Korea’s renowned college entrance exam, which includes changes in the way questions are written and reviewed.

The committee, which the Ministry of Education formed last year to pinpoint problems with the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) and draw up solutions, announced its plan at a public hearing at Seoul National University of Education.

After collecting and assessing public opinions, the ministry will finalize the plan. In June, it will conduct a practice test that will determine the difficulty level of the CSAT in November.

Any problems found in the way questions are written and graded will be improved, according to the outline, and the team responsible for the review process will be reinforced.

The committee suggested making changes to the review team - which is currently comprised of school teachers - by bringing in an outside chairperson and supplementing the group with college professors or those holding doctorates.

Additionally, the period for writing questions for the social studies and science, second foreign languages, and Chinese characters and classics will be extended.

The number of members tasked with formulating questions for the social studies section and the science section will be increased to five or six.

According to the JoongAng Ilbo, the committee created the plan taking into consideration the previous CSAT, which drew criticism from test-takers, who claimed that several sections did not maintain a consistent level of difficulty.

Exam subjects are broken up into either A or B sections, which are designed around a general science or liberal arts track.

High school students majoring in general sciences are required to complete Korean A and Math B on the CSAT, while liberal arts students must take Korean B and Math A.

On the CSAT last year, 4.3 percent of all test-takers received perfect scores on the Math B section, and 3.37 percent scored perfectly on the English section. In 2013, only 0.58 percent got perfect scores in the Math B section.

“It is necessary to make questions with various difficulty levels so that the test is not too easy,” the committee said in its statement on Tuesday.

The committee also made three suggestions concerning material taken from workbooks published by EBS, a state-run educational television channel.

Since 2005, material from EBS workbooks have been reflected in the test. That rate, however, increased to 70 percent in 2010.

Due to this phenomenon, many test-takers often simply memorize the workbook material.

One recommendation would be to keep the current amount of material from the workbook until 2017, while another was to reduce the amount of material from the EBS workbooks, and a third was to replace that material with new content.

The material on the CSAT in other sections currently taken from the EBS workbooks will remain the same until 2017.

An official from the Education Ministry added that the committee’s announcement was focused on finding solutions for the test’s difficulty issues and the problems caused by the way the questions are written.

A fundamental plan regarding the entire college admissions process will be discussed in April, the official added.

BY CHUN IN-SUNG [nam.yoonseo@joongang.co.kr]

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