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[Editorial] An Admission System which Troubles Students too Much

[Editorial] An Admission System which Troubles Students too Much

Posted December. 15, 2004 23:01,   


Since the score of this year’s college entrance examination was released, complaints from students who took the exam are mounting. The official website of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development are inundated with protesting messages, saying, “Students are not experiment subjects.” That is the accusation of the education authorities’ irresponsible and bureaucratic attitude toward confusion caused by the recently released standardized score of the entrance exam. It is evident that the education authorities should prepare thoroughly before changing a college admission system. However, Korean education authorities took a unilateral approach, “We’ll go this way, so students and parents should follow us no matter what.”

Korea is unique in that it controls the college admission system. Currently, the admission system consists of three pillars, which are grades in high school, college entrance exam, and oral and essay tests. Students’ grades at school have already proved unreliable, as so many teachers have inflated grades of their students. The interview has not been proved as a useful tool in selecting talented students. Therefore, the college entrance exam is virtually the only evaluation tool on the students’ academic performance. However, the Korean government causes confusion in the exam, overly intervening in the test system and frequently changing it.

The frequent changes in the entrance exam stem from the government’s anachronistic mindset, which wants to resolve educational problems such as rankings of universities. As a result, the government contributes to rendering Korean students into the most stressed in the world due to the exam. One might wonder whether the education authorities are concerned even once about the enormous stress students and parents are suffering in this confusing admission system.

In addition, the result of the changes serves the original purpose badly. The confusion stemming from the change actually helped private education to thrive more and more. A new kind of private education business like college admission consultants are mushrooming and private tutoring for interview and essay tests are ever growing.

There is a national-level test designed to evaluate students’ academic performance in any country in the world. Moreover, a country like Korea, where interests of social classes and groups are complicatedly interwoven, needs a government-run examination system like the existing college entrance exam. What is important is the government’s intervention in the exam should be confined to a smooth administration of the exam and offering of raw data related to exam score as it is to university authorities. The government should abandon its intention to control the college admission system at the earliest point possible.