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New Government Schemes for College Admissions Will Be Boon for Cramming Schools

New Government Schemes for College Admissions Will Be Boon for Cramming Schools

Posted August. 29, 2004 22:14,   


Contrary to its intentions, the government’s new plans to change the college admissions process will increase the ratio of high school grades against College Scholastic Aptitude Test (CSAT) results and won’t lessen the pressure top-percentile students feel about the test.

In 2004, 25,704 received grades in the CSAT. For the academic year 2005, Seoul’s five major universities will admit about 20,000 new students. Seoul National University will admit 4,045 students, Korea University will admit 4,248, Yonsei University will admit 4,137, Sungkyunkwan University will admit 4,326, and Hanyang University will admit 3,583.

By implications, students lower than grade 1 cannot even apply for top universities or popular programs such as medical schools.

Meanwhile, as the new plans will decrease the authority of that CSAT as a gauge for academic credentials, the importance of high school GPA will rise accordingly. As grade inflation will be impossible, high schools are expected to give much harder mid-term and final exams to improve GPAs as more effective gauges.

What is more, as the ratio of readings and public services rise in students’ credential records, the burden they will feel will also rise.

As all applicants for top universities will receive grade 1 in the CSAT, colleges will have little option but to introduce their own tests.

“Second- and third-tier colleges will select new students mostly based on students’ credential records, while top colleges will conduct tests on major academic subjects,” said Kim Yong-geun, test director at Jongro Test Prep School.

Once such tests are introduced, students from Seoul, and especially those from its upscale Gangnam district, will have the upper hand because of their better education infrastructure.

“About 30 new medical students but one at a top university in Seoul this year are from Gangnam,” said a prep school instructor in Gangnam.

It is the general reaction from Gangnam’s test prep district that the new government scheme will place them at an advantage.

This is because demand for private lessons will rise as students will have to prepare for GPA, CSAT and each college’s tests. Since the colleges’ own tests will be tougher, high-paid private lessons and tutoring will become popular.

“High-paid tutoring for high percentile students may boom,” said Shin Dong-won, a teacher at Whimoon High School.

“Demand for private sessions on debate and essay writing will rise among not just junior high school students, but also elementary school students,” said Choi Gang, president of Choigang Test Prep School.

Seong-Chul Hong sungchul@donga.com