Biggest Korean Exams

Last week, the biggest Korean exams took place. The annual high school exam for entrance into University locally known as the suneung or the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), is a big deal in Korea. Each year, about 500 000 students sit this exam hoping to get top marks that will allow them to enter the best universities in Korea. Notably, Seoul National University is the top and most sort after university.

In a country where the university you go to will still often dictate your future job prospects, it is no wonder that these exams are a big deal. After years at school and after hours at academy’s, the amalgamation of all the student’s efforts lies in this exam and the scores they will receive.

As such, the 8 hour CSAT is a big deal. All other students not sitting the exam get the day off to ensure there is less road and footpath traffic. Workers start their working day later to ensure there is less traffic. All planes are prohibited to landing and taking off during the English listening component of the test and flights diverted to not fly over any examination centres. You can even get a police ride if you are running late for the exam. The stock exchange ever opens an hour later than usual.

Goodluck to all the students waiting on their results!

4 thoughts on “Biggest Korean Exams

  1. Oh my god, the measures in place to ensure that the exam is taken in the best conditions possible are incredible! It really shows how important it is and especially how seriously it is taken by everyone. In France some students have to sit their end-of-highschool exam in 40-degrees (celsius) rooms with roadworks nearby…!

  2. Wow, this is serious business in Korea! I had no idea that such exams would affect the day-to-day activities of traffic and whatnot. Definitely a huge cultural difference from what I’ve experienced in the US (and I assume for you in Australia), but a fascinating one nonetheless. Likewise, I wish the students the best of luck!

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