Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The KSAT: The Most Important Test Of Their Lives

Tomorrow is KSAT (Korean Scholastic Ability Test) day here in Korea: over 720,000 high school seniors will take a lengthy, multi-subject exam used for university placement.

I feel like the entire country is about ready to come to a standstill: the flight paths of certain airplanes have been diverted away from test sites, police officers and ambulances will be on standby tomorrow to escort late students to their tests, and many workplaces are opening an hour late to ensure there will be less traffic for students traveling to take their tests. Why all the fuss? Because in Korea, if you don't do well on this test, you won't get into a good university, then you won't get a good job, and nobody will want to marry you because of your low status, then you won't have a family, and youwillbesadandlonelyFORTHERESTOFETERNITYWAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH.

Sadly, I am not exaggerating.

I had pretty shitty SAT scores, as I recall. However, there were other things I did to make up for that in my college admissions process: I wrote a slammin' admissions essay, I was well-rounded (varsity swimmer, band dweeb, blah blah blah), had a 4.1 GPA, ect. But. From what I can tell, that stuff just doesn't matter as much over here, which is more than a little bit depressing T_T Literally, some of these kids have been preparing for tomorrow since they were in kindergarten: before they could write or read properly!

This NPR story is a year old, but I think it still very accurately captures the feeling I'm picking up on here:

And I also recently read through this Korean-authored comic about hagwons/educational culture here in Korea, which I found linked to on Roboseyo. Really beautiful/dark/awesome


  1. I was going to link you to that comic but clearly it's already been done!

    Jong-min managed to avoid all of that, somehow. I guess his SAT scores and whatever else he took in Canada were good enough? (He even got into one of the SKY universities. Overachiever. ;-;)

  2. I saw "good luck chocolate" for sale at DD, and it was espresso flavor.