SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Korea Bizwire) – “SKY Castle”, a black comedy and thriller by the cable channel JTBC, has ended on Friday with a recorded nationwide viewership ratings of 23.78 percent.
It set a new record for the highest viewership ratings in South Korean cable network history.
The drama has brought about deep interest in professional coordinator for college admissions and other expensive private education programs, exposing the uncomfortable truth behind students forced to study at cram schools all day long.
While South Korean education authorities have failed repeatedly to address the reality of South Korean education entangled with college entrance and private education, some experts are calling on the need to follow in the footsteps of Japan, which introduced essay questions in its college entrance exams.
Lee Yong-baek, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, said Japan began overhauling its education system in 2012.
One of its objectives included adding essay questions to the Japanese and mathematics sections in the Japanese college entrance exam by 2021.
In Japan, students normally have to take the National Center Test for University Admissions and a secondary test provided by each university or department.
In the secondary test, arts and humanities majors are obliged to write a short essay and take a foreign language test, while science and engineering majors are required to take a mathematics or other science-related test and write a short essay.
Japan’s National Center Test for University Admissions is similar to the South Korea’s College Scholastic Ability Test.
Students can choose a maximum of nine subjects from 30 choices to take a series of tests with multiple-choice questions.
Japan aims to replace the National Center Test with a new kind of admissions examination, in which it plans to introduce essay questions in the Japanese and mathematics sections.
Japan conducted a pilot test for the new admissions exam in 2017 with three essay questions included in the Japanese section. The questions had to be answered within 25, 50, and 120 characters, respectively.
The questions involved filling in the blanks of a conversation between members of a high school student association, based on relevant newspaper articles and other references provided to the student in advance.
In the mathematics section, students were asked to describe a certain situation mathematically and interpret a certain table in numbers.
The results showed that in the Japanese language section, only 73.5 percent of the students managed to answer a 25-character question correctly, compared to 43.7 percent for a 50-character question, and 0.7 percent for a 120-character question.
In the mathematics section, fewer than 10 percent of all students managed to correctly answer the three essay questions.
“While Japan already has a system in place to measure a student’s cognitive and decision-making skills through the short essays included in the secondary test, it still plans to include additional essay questions in the new admissions exam in 2021,” said Lee.
“We also have to start thinking about going beyond the learning-by-rote system to develop various essay questions to help students prepare for an ever-changing social environment.”
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)