Posted December. 08, 2009 09:01,

The highest score in the math section of the national college entrance exam plummeted this year, but the number of students having the highest score grew five to nine times.

Due to the little difference among the top math scores, students will apparently have to be extremely conscious of which schools their competitors will choose, especially for prestigious universities that puts priority on exam scores.

The Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation announced the scores and analysis yesterday and the scorecards will be distributed to students today.

The highest score for the A section of the math test fell 12 points and that of the B section dropped 16 points for a combined score of 142. This was the first time the highest scores for both sections were the same.

The highest score for the Korean-language section also dropped to 134, down six points from last year. In contrast, the highest score for the English section rose four points to 140.

Unlike last year, when the math score determined successful admissions since the top students showed distinctively high math scores, the score distribution was even in all sections this year for the best students.

The lowest scores among the top test takers were 128 for Korean, 132 for the math A section, 135 for the B section, and 133 for English. While the top scores in the Korean and math sections each dropped by three points from last year, that of English rose two points.

Since the number of applicants with high scores in the Korean and math sections rose sharply, many students at the very top are expected to have identical scores.

Last year, the number of students who received the highest score in the math A section was 95 and that for the other section was 442. This year, however, the figures rose to 463 (4.9 times) and 3,875 (8.8 times), respectively.

Again this year, the scores varied to a large extent for selective subjects. The difference between the highest and lowest scores were as large as 14 points for the social studies section (67 for modern Korean history and 81 for economics); 10 points for science (67 for earth science and 77 for the second section of physics and chemistry); and 31 points for a second foreign language (69 for German, French, Japanese and Chinese script and 100 for Arabic).

foryou@donga.com