Errors Found in South Korea’s Entrance Exam Questions

February 13, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. resignation /ˌrɛz ɪgˈneɪ ʃən/ (n.) – the act of leaving a job
Example: The official announced his resignation after the scandal.

2. secure /sɪˈkyʊər/ (v.) – to achieve or obtain something
Example: He secured a scholarship after passing the exam.

3. assure /əˈʃʊər, əˈʃɜr/ (v.) – to make sure that something will happen
Example: The school assured the students that its curriculum is effective.

4. flawed / flɔd/ (adj.) – having an error or a mistake
Example: The student quickly noticed the flawed answer.

5. step down / stɛp daʊn/ (v.) – to leave a position in an organization or in the government
Example: Ms. Smith stepped down as school director yesterday.


Read the text below.
Two faulty college entrance exam questions were found in the annual College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT). It resulted in the resignation of Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) head Kim Sung-Hoon and the release of a public apology from South Korea’s education minister.

About 650,000 high school students took the CSAT in November 2014. The exam is divided into five parts and features a multiple-choice type of questions. Takers who get excellent scores secure a spot in South Korea’s top universities; namely, the Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. The exam also helps determine which university a student is suited for.

Korea Times reported that the English Language section’s 25th question had an error with the correct answer. The option read “18 percent increase” instead of “18 percentage point increase,” which caused some students to choose other answers. The other error was in the biology section, in which two of the choices are possible answers.

In a television broadcast, Education Minister Hwang Woo-Yea apologized for the errors in the exams. He also assured the public that an investigation to know how the flawed items came out will be done. As a compromise, the South Korean government decided to accept multiple answers for the erroneous questions. Between 3,600 and 4,000 students were affected by the decision.

According to Kim, the board did its best to avoid errors in the CSAT. With his resignation, he became the third KICE head to step down because of a controversial CSAT exam. In the 2013 CSAT, more than 10,000 students were affected by a faulty question in the geology section. Four other CSAT questions had been found faulty since 2000.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you approve of the KICE head’s resignation? Why or why not?
·         How would you feel if you were one of the exam takers?

Discussion B

·         How do you think errors in exam questions can be avoided?
·         How are college entrance exams administered in Japan?

February 13, 2015