Results show CSAT scores down from previous year

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Results show CSAT scores down from previous year

The results of this year’s state-administered College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) show that it was generally more difficult than last year’s exam, which was considered far too easy.

On Tuesday, the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE), which oversees the administration of the test, announced the breakdown of scores for the 2016 exam.

According to the results, there was a wider differentiation in scores in all three core sections - Korean, math and English - following confusion caused by the high number of perfect scores on last year’s CSAT, which led to a lack of standouts.

The percentage of perfect scores was 0.8 percent, or 2,198 students for Korean A; 0.3 percent, or 931 students for Korean B; 0.31 percent, or 1,206 for Math A; 1.66 percent, or 2,597 students, for Math B; and 0.48 percent, or 2,709, for English.

All categories were down from last year, except for the Korean B section.

Last year, the highest number of students ever received perfect scores on the Math B and the English sections: 4.3 percent of test-takers received perfect scores on the Math B section, while 3.37 percent received perfect scores on the English section.

Likewise, on last year’s CSAT, 1.37 percent of test-takers got perfect scores in the Korean A section; 0.09 percent on Korean B and 2.54 percent on Math A.

KICE also found that the average score from all sections were down from last year, except in Korean B.

Some 630,000 students took the CSAT in November.

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.

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 questions in the social studies sections were fairly easy, so in Korean history, Korean geography, world geography, world history, politics and ethics, getting one problem wrong could drop [a student] from the first-tier to the second-tier,” said Kim Hee-dong, a consultant with the college admissions company Jinhak.

Similarly, in the science track, getting one question wrong in the Physics II section could drop a student to a third-tier ranking.

The percentage of students who received perfect scores on Life Science I was 0.04 percent; Physics II was 11.56 percent and Earth Science was 8.02 percent.

“Depending on what subject the science-track students chose, there is a high possibility that there will be many variables - whether it be an advantage or disadvantage - in the college applications process,” said Shin Dong-won, the vice principal of Whimoon High School.

For the 2016 school year, 197 four-year universities nationwide are slated to accept more than 116,000 college hopefuls.

BY SARAH KIM, CHUN IN-SUNG [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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