Thousands nationwide gather to take the CSAT

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Thousands nationwide gather to take the CSAT

Hundreds of thousands of college hopefuls across the country took the annual College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) on Thursday.

The exam is a major barometer here for college admissions, and a single incorrect test question could make the difference in whether a student is accepted to his or her top choice.

Some 630,000 students arrived at their assigned exam locations early in the morning.

Lee Jun-sik, a Chinese language and literature professor at Sungkyunkwan University who heads the committee in charge of writing the exam questions, announced Thursday that the test’s level of difficulty was “overall similar to that of the mock exams held in June and September.”

Some 4.3 percent of students who took the Math B section last year received a perfect score, making it the easiest portion of the test.

In Korea, high school students are divided into two tracks - those who choose to specialize in general sciences and those who opt for liberal arts. CSAT subjects are broken up into A and B sections, which are designed around those majors and take into account the curricula and the students’ skill sets.

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.

B sections are more intensive and cover more chapters, while A sections are more generalized.

Min Chan-hong, a policy science professor at Hanyang University who heads the committee in charge of reviewing the CSAT questions, said the committee kept in mind grading errors made in 2013 and worked hard to prevent making the same mistake.

Last year, the Ministry of Education admitted that a question in the world geography section one year prior was too vague, which led to grading errors.

Nearly 19,000 students were affected, making it one of the worst grading disasters in the history of the exam.

According to tentative results calculated by college entrance consulting institutes, the difficulty level of the Korean A section was similar or slightly harder than last year’s test; Korean B was a bit easier; Math A and Math B were a bit harder; while English was similar.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, NAM YOON-SEO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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