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More Koreans Traveling to Japan for GRE

Posted September. 26, 2005 06:15,   


“A” (30) who lives in Seoul, is scheduled to go to Osaka, Japan on September 30 to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). He plans to take GRE again on October 3 in Osaka. The examinee estimates that it will cost him/her about 800,000 won just to travel. If he/she takes the exam in Korea, the applicant will have to pay only 180,000 won for the examination fee.

There are a lot of Koreans who go to Japan to take the GRE like “A.” That is because the GRE verbal test, which combines writing and vocabulary tests, which are taken separately, is given only twice a year in Korea.

On the other hand, in Japan, the GRE is given everyday except for weekends, and examinees can take it once a month. So, if they take the exam at the end and the beginning of a month and stay for four or five days, applicants can take it twice in a row. Therefore, an array of test takers who plan to take GRE verbal on about October 22, the last verbal test date in Korea, continue to go to Japan in order to take the exam in succession and raise scores.

After cheating on the GRE was discovered in Korea, the U.S. Educational Testing Services (ETS) changed from CBT (Computer-Based Test) to PBT (Paper-Based Test) in some Asian countries (Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong) and limited the number of times applicants take the exam. On the 2002 test, some Korean test takers shared answers to the test on Web sites and used similar expressions and sentences in some tests such as writing. The scores from those tests became invalid.

Some travel agencies and GRE related institutions have even sold “Japan GRE tours.” This product is a journey for four days and costs about 800,000 won. Particularly, “A” hotel in Osaka, Japan and “B” hotel in Tokyo, which is a short flight from Korea, are popular for Korean applicants as lodgings due to their proximity to exam places.

According to an institution specializing in the GRE, more than 200 Korean examinees take GRE in Japan and other countries every month, and the number of “GRE expeditions” has increased 20 percent as more applicants are trying to take the exam in succession for a short period in June and October when the GRE is given in Korea.

A person who is preparing for the GRE said that ETS is giving disadvantages to applicants by limiting the number of times and methods rather than raising the test’s objectivity level thorough test management.

However, other institutions pointed out that such inconveniences and high costs are caused by some indiscreet netizens who shared answers to the test unethically to raise scores in a short period, and that would-be test takers should pay more attention to improving their English language ability.

Jae-Young Kim Se-Jin Jung jaykim@donga.com mint4a@donga.com