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  • Have a fantastic summer break!
  • First Day of School on August 12th.
  • Don't forget your spirit shirts on Friday.
The Student News Site of Daegu International School

Jets Flyover

The Student News Site of Daegu International School

Jets Flyover

What is your opinion on the Suneung (수능)?

DIS community shares their thoughts on the Korean College Scholastic Ability Test
Christine Park

Suneung (수능), the Korean College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), raises the blood pressure of year 3 high schoolers every fall. This high-stakes exam serves as the ultimate marker of university acceptance. The only equivalent in the US is the SAT – but its Korean counterpart adds layer upon layer of competition, stress, and anxiety. Teens only get one shot a year. If they do not live up to their standards, they can compete again a year later. The only escape from this troublesome system relies on GPA and early decision programs, but this presents other impossible hurdles as well. The Flyover spoke to several members of the DIS community to gather their opinions on this intense exam. 

Mrs. Jolly, academic counselor. (Serena Travers)


Mrs. Jolly, Academic Counselor: I just feel bad for the students. I didn’t realize how long the exam was. I was talking to a parent the other day, and they were telling me about how depending on what subjects you are taking, the length of the test might be different. Her older son was going to take it, and his exam was going to start at 7 in the morning and finish at 6 O’clock at night, or something like that. There’s another thing I didn’t realize: there’s only one a year. So, if you didn’t do well, then you have to wait a whole year to do it. I think it is great that DIS students don’t have to take it. 





Becky Cho, Grade 8. (Serena Travers)


Becky Cho, Grade 8: It’s a weird way to go to college. It’s a big test and everyone’s studying for it and it gives so much stress to high schoolers. I think it is a negative way. I don’t think it’s unfair, but some from the Korean school might feel unfair I guess. 







David Cho, Grade 12. (Serena Travers)


David Cho, Grade 12: I think that, compared to AP, the CSAT is a really challenging test. First, we don’t have that wide range of options to choose the subjects from, and also, there are some mandatory subjects that we have to take, even though we don’t like them. I think that’s the part where the CSAT gets hard. I think, until now, it is the best way to determine the student’s ability to study something, so I think students should still take the CSAT. The Korean government makes a mock CSAT test every two months, and after each test, my friends in Korean schools tell me the things they got wrong or that they got a good score. Most of them say that they feel  nervous about the CSAT.




Colin Ji, Grade 11. (Serena Travers)

Colin Ji, Grade 11: Pretty much from elementary school, my brother wanted to go to a medical school. At high school, he focused more on the CSAT itself than his GPA. After taking the CSAT for the first time, he knew it wasn’t going to be enough for him to get into a medical school. I don’t know if he was actually mentally depressed, but we knew for a fact that he was going under a lot of pressure and stress. He ended up falling short for medical school, but then he fell in love with architecture, so that’s what he does now. 

My father had to get a good score because he grew up poor. A long time ago, if you didn’t have much entrepreneurship, going to medical school was one of the best ways to get your financial literacy. My father took it three times and finally got in, but up until this day, he talks about how wasting your life in your youngest and most fun times for the CSAT is not worth it



Ember Kim, Grade 1. (Serena Travers)


Ember Kim, Grade 1: I don’t know the CSAT. I don’t know College. But, I think it is not good because I think I have to stay away from my family. I don’t think it is fun to take the CSAT because I’m alone. It’s good that we don’t take it because I can stay in DIS. 







Curtis Jang, Kindergarten. (Serena Travers)


Curtis Jang, Kindergarten: I’ve tried 수능 before. It smells good. It is something you eat. I forgot how it tastes, but I’ve tried it in Seoul. 







Dr. White, Learning Strategist. (Serena Travers)

Dr. White, Learning Strategist: It sounds very difficult. The content is one thing, but the pressure of it would make it more difficult. If I had a test that I had one shot at, I think I would do worse on it because I would be so nervous. As a learning strategist, my opinion is going to be different. I don’t put a lot of value into those tests. In fact, at the university I taught at, I was on a committee that looked at the SAT data and cross-referenced that with GPA and whether or not somebody graduated. We found that there wasn’t a strong correlation between SAT scores and success. So, as a university, we stopped requiring the SAT. As a teacher, my personal experience with working with students is that those tests don’t tell me anything about how good that person is going to be. 




Aiden Hong, Grade 4. (Serena Travers)


Aiden Hong, Grade 4: I know it because my uncle took that when I was 6 years old. He said he messed up. I think it should be easier because many high schoolers did a good job in their school, but they couldn’t go to a good university because of the CSAT. I think it is not unfair because we are learning another thing at another school, so I think we don’t have to take the CSAT. 






Mr. Kim, Director of External Affairs and Korean Studies.(Serena Travers)


Mr. Kim, Director of External Affairs and Korean Studies: CSAT is a test you take to get into a Korean university. However, DIS students have a way to go to college without having to take the CSAT. Usually, for a Korean student to get into a Korean college with early decision, there is a requirement for two or three subjects that you have to have a minimum ranking in. However, for every university, there is an early decision that does not require this ranking. For example, a test with a specialty in English for the Underwood Program at Yeonsae University. There were cases where some of your alumni have gone to Korean schools, too. It is nearly impossible for you guys to take the CSAT because you guys are on a completely different curriculum. CSAT is for the Korean curriculum. You guys have the SAT. It is a completely different thing, so there is no need to judge whether or not it is fair. 



Ms. Wang, secondary math teacher. (Serena Travers)

Ms. Wang, Secondary Math Teacher: Until my senior year of college, I had never known anything about international schools. So, CSAT was the only thing I knew about getting accepted to college. It could be the fairest way to assess the students taking the same exam on the same date for seniors in Korea, But, at the same time, it is causing a lot of pressure for students because it is too high level and covers too much content. Still, I don’t think it’s unfair for DIS kids not to take the CSAT. It’s just a different system. People here need to take care of all different subjects, while Korean students just take care of their core subjects. I’m sometimes jealous of students here at DIS because they have a lot of different experiences from high school. We only had midterms and finals. It was only one exam per semester, but we don’t have a retake policy. Now, I’m a teacher here, and I think it is better for the student to always have a chance to make their score better.



Mr. Zhao, secondary Chinese teacher. (Serena Travers)

Mr. Zhao, Secondary Chinese Teacher: In our school, they don’t have to take the CSAT, so maybe they have relatively less pressure. We also have a college entrance exam in China called the GaoKao. It’s very similar to the CSAT. I know that the CSAT finishes in one day but for GaoKao, it usually finishes in two or three days. Usually, one day is two subjects so they have five or six subjects to do. It depends on the province or area because they might have their own test. The student has to study really hard for the test. I think it is not unfair because we are an international school and students usually go to foreign countries for college. 





Mr. Faille, secondary PE teacher. (Serena Travers)


Mr. Faille, Secondary PE teacher: I think it is common to what I experienced in Chile. I experienced a 2-day test though, and it was a bit shorter. We had science, history, Spanish or literature, and math. Unfair is a tricky word, but I think it is too much pressure in one or two days. In Chile, you can not fail. You just get low points. If you get low points, you have fewer chances to be in the career and university you want. I had a friend who felt a lot of pressure because they had great grades in school. He was expecting to get a national top score, but he didn’t get it because he was under a lot of pressure. A lot of people did better than him. I think it isn’t ideal if he couldn’t think clearly because he was too stressed in that way, so it happens. 




For many youngsters, the CSAT lies far on the horizon. But as we age, we realize that this system bears unbearable pressure on students. Also, international school students who escape 수능 do not receive an unfair advantage – they just have a completely different system of study. On the flip side, those who took part in the Korean education system somewhat agree with the protocol. What do you think about the CSAT? Please opine in the comments.

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About the Contributors
Serena Travers
Serena Travers, Writer
A rising senior, Serena Travers returns to continue her avid passion for journalism. This year, she aspires to share her thoughts, meet new people, and take the best of the best photos. She also plans to dabble in design to bring the yearbook to the next level as she leaves high school. She combines her love for psychology with her writing. Her excitement and dedication to the Flyover staff is evident by the fact that she takes two media classes at DIS.
Raina Lee
Raina Lee, Multimedia Director
Raina Lee returns for her second year of journalism as the Multimedia Director. She hopes to elevate the Flyover presence on and off campus and inspire budding Jets with her writing, designs, and photography. On top of her leadership role, she strives to continue writing articles across genres from opinion polls to social issues. Outside of the classroom, she vibes to music, pops by trendy shops, watches sports, and constantly looks for journalistic inspiration.
Christine Park
Christine Park, Illustrator
After years of persuasion from her peers that sparked intrinsic motivation, Christine Park finally enters Journalism as a senior. Chris’s greatest passion revolves around the field of art and anime. Her role as the president of the National Art Honors Society and Visual Arts Club proves the enthusiasm she bears for artistry. As the new illustrator for the Jets Flyover, Chris is eager to dive into journalism and share her artwork and comics with a wider audience.

Comments (3)

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  • S

    SolaNov 28, 2023 at 8:55 am

    I am just so glad I don’t have to take the test. I have many Korean friends who has to take it and from what I heard, it’s a total nightmare. Great article!

  • S

    Sarah JollyNov 26, 2023 at 7:14 pm

    Great article. I like my picture and I enjoyed reading some of the responses.

  • A

    Aiden ShinNov 21, 2023 at 6:29 pm

    I think Suneung test is very stressful and I don’t want to do it.