Nearly 500,000 South Korean Students Sitting for Difficult University Admission Exam Amid Pandemic

Nearly 500,000 students will take a university admission exam in Seoul, South Korea, today on December 3, called the Korean College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT).

Since the age of four, children in South Korea begin studying for the CSAT, which not only decides which university a student can attend, but it can impact youngsters’ career, social standing and future relations, Erudera College News reports.

As the lessons given at schools are not considered satisfactory to help children prepare for the CSAT, many of them are obliged to take private after-hours training.

Based on data secured from a survey conducted in 2017, over 83 per cent of children at the age of five and 36 per cent of two-year-olds in the country were receiving private after-hours teaching at Hagwons and “cram schools”.

According to Cho In-ho, a Seoul-based mother, this test is decisive for the lives of their children, adding that many students also share the same opinion.

The 19-year-old son of Cho In-ho, Seo Ba-wool, will take the exam for the second time, as last year he could not manage to get into the university he wanted.

“He has his own dream. He loves physics and astronomy. But last year, his score was not high enough,” Cho told ABC.

Despite the fact that Ba-wool and other students who had not scored enough during the last exam had the opportunity to attend other schools, the majority of them are interested in only three institutions which in the country are known as SKY universities, including:

  1. Seoul National University
  2. Korea University
  3. Yonsei University

For many of them, only these three institutions could help them achieve their goals as after studies they will be judged by their degree and the institution that has issued it.

Nearly three-quarters of applicants will have the chance to attend a university, yet fewer than 2 per cent will get into a SKY university.

Students Claim Pandemic Has Increased Their Stress

Hagwons, which is a cram school in South Korea, had to cancel face-to-face classes, and students are claiming that disturbances during their studies have added stress during a tough period of their lives.

Students have expressed concerns that the virus might affect their scores in the exam, and for those who have been waiting for a year to attend the university they want, such a thing could be very disappointing.

In April, the country has managed to hold in-person legislative elections after disinfecting polling stations, checking the temperature as well as obliging voters to put masks on. As a result, after the event, there wasn’t any infection recorded.

Therefore, the government of South Korea believes that CSAT can also be held safely by respecting the measures.

However, the infectious diseases expert at Yonsei University, Lee Hyuk-min, said it would be difficult to manage as half a million students will gather for the test.

3,775 students will be allowed to take tests while being quarantined, whereas 35 others who have tested positive for COVID-19 can take the exam from the hospital badly.

The CSAT is a marathon day of tests which includes six parts: Korean, maths, history, English, social studies as well as a second foreign language.

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