Students prepare for the upcoming Korea National Exam


On Nov. 17, Korean high school seniors will take The College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), also known as Suneung. This is a national level exam considered to be one of the most stressful exams in the world. 

“Suneung is considered to be one of the most important milestones in the life of every Korean teenager,” Felix Cho, public school Korean student, said. “Oftentimes, a Korean student’s fate for their entrance in university depends mainly on these scores. A lot of families place an extreme emphasis on this test and do almost anything to let their children score high. I’m in eighth grade, and I began studying for this test last year. Just comes to show how important it is.” 

Each year, the Suneung takes place for about eight hours, from 8:40am to 5:40pm excluding lunch time and break time for about 1 hour. Korean students will complete six sections including National Language, Mathematics, English, Korean history, and Second foreign language. 

Oftentimes, the National language section is often the toughest in the exam including Speech and Writing, Grammar, as well as Reading and Literature. 

On the day of the college entrance exam, vehicles are prohibited from traveling areas 200m near the testing site. Construction sites close for the day to reduce noise while candidates work. Offices leave work earlier or later to avoid traffic jams that may affect transportation for test-takers. 

Recently, the government has attempted to overhaul Suneung by allowing students to gain university entrance points in other ways, all with the intention of alleviating academic stress.