Korean Students to Take the CSAT on November 17


One student is receiving a questionnaire and an answer sheet for the Korean language section of the CSAT held on November 18, 2021. Image courtesy of Chosun Edu, Shin Young-kyung.

Ahn Soyeon, Staff Writer

   On November 17, the 2022 Korean College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) will be held in person at middle and high schools all over the country in Korea. The CSAT is making test takers nervous, and parents and educational institutions are worried about how the test will turn out, as well.

   The Korean College Scholastic Ability Test is held on the third Thursday of November every year, and about nine hours, from 8:40 a.m. to 5:45 p.m to complete. The examination subjects consist of Korean, mathematics, English, Korean history, social studies or science, and a second foreign language or Chinese characters (한문). Since the CSAT is conducted only once a year, it increases the burden and tension of test takers as it requires concentration and physical strength because it is held for a long time. 

   Lee Sun bin, a 22-year-old student at the University of Chicago who prepared for both the SAT and the CSAT, noted that being evaluated in a single day for a total of 12 years of education across elementary, middle, and high school is extremely nerve-racking and stressful. She said she failed to meet the minimum score of the university she wanted to go to in the 2020 CSAT and had to prepare for another year to make up for the mistakes. She also mentioned that the CSAT is inefficient compared to the American SAT, which can be taken up to seven times a year regardless of the time and grade.

   The CSAT has a strong influence in Korean society. During the CSAT English listening portion of the test, aircraft take-off and landing is completely prohibited at all airports in Korea so that test takers can listen to English words correctly without disturbing background noise. Office workers’ commuting time to work is delayed as well. This is a social consideration to ensure that people arrive at the test site on time without being delayed by traffic. The reason for taking these measures is that the CSAT is considered one of the most important events in the lives of all individuals in Korea. 

   In Korea, an academic elitist society, people evaluate an individual’s ability based on his or her academic background, and it sticks everywhere like a tag. There is a social atmosphere that if a person’s academic background is not good, it is easy to be stigmatized negatively in society, whereas if the person’s academic background is good, people respect that person. So, people devote themselves to preparing for the SAT to go to the best universities.

   Lee Ju young, a senior high school student preparing for the CSAT at the cram school, said her final goal is to enter a top university in Seoul and that the academy conducts a mock test once a week that is just like the actual CSAT. She also added that whenever her grades fell, she proceeded with supplementary classes and studies, and sometimes relied on caffeine to concentrate on studying longer.