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CAT Grading System Needs Revision, Say Many

Posted December. 10, 2007 03:07,   


The newly introduced grading system in this year’s College Aptitude Test (CAT) is sparking controversies over its legitimacy. An increasing number of test-takers are demanding better grading system to prevent problems sprung this year. Some students received lower grade just because they got one question wrong.

As major presidential hopefuls have pledged to improve the problems of the grading system, it seems that the system will undergo changes sooner or later.

After test results were released on December 7, the Ministry of Education and the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) received countless complaints from students on their websites. Some students even said that they will bring lawsuits against the ministry regarding the grading.

A parent complained, “My child received a lower grade in three subjects, math, English and social science, with just a single point’s difference. Now he cannot apply to the universities he had hoped to apply to any more. My heart broke.”

Another student criticized the system by saying, “Although the education ministry views the change of the system as a way to prevent competition in the scoring system, the current grading system makes students rely more on private institutions than the previous system.”

Regarding changes in the system, the Ministry of Education explained that an immediate change in the system will be hard since it needs to announce any major changes at least three years before they enter into force to ensure predictability and credibility of its education policies, and high school education decree requires changes in college admission plans to be announced 1.5 years in advance.

However, experts are pointing out that the regulation is merely a non-binding guideline. Thus in order to reduce students’ confusion from an irrational system, the ministry only needs to go back to the old ways.

In particular, according to them, the idea of the grading system is triggering huge side effects in reality.

Professor Jeong Jin-gon of the Education Department at Hanyang University said, “The CSAT score should be predictable considering that the test scores are crucial in deciding which colleges students can enter. However, the current system has many flaws in terms of score calculation. The rule to make prior announcements before changing the system is merely an instruction, which leaves it open to amendment.”

Hwang Gyu-ho of the admissions department at Ewha Womans University said, “The grading system is a tougher standard than the scoring system, which makes it hard to differentiate students. It seems relatively fairer to adopt the previous standard scoring system or adopt a ‘total score’ system.

Meanwhile, the major presidential hopefuls, including candidate Lee Myoung-bak of the Grand National Party, candidate Chung Dong-young of the United New Democratic Party and independent candidate Lee Hoi-chang, have all clearly pledged to improve or eliminate the CSAT grading system.