Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Economist on South Korea's test hell

The Economist has an article that addresses that perennial issue of what to do about the sunûng, South Korea's grueling college entrance exam.

With so much of their future riding on it, the test causes all sorts of distortions, not just its outsized academic influence but the gobs and gobs of money spent on prep and the opportunity costs of the time invested studying it (particularly among those who delay entrance for a year or two instead of opting for a "lesser" school). 

Its continued existence indicates its societal value (i.e., providing a reasonably objective equalizer) but also the failure of reform: for as long as I've lived in South Korea, "fixing" the test has involved mostly tweaking at the edges and not an effort to sit down and work out a new testing regimen that is fair and still holds onto those societal values without being such a huge juggernaut.

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