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Feb 26, 2024

South Korea Government announces major overhaul to college entrance exam

The Education Ministry announced on Wednesday its finalized college admission plans, requiring exam candidates to take an “integrated” College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) from the 2028 admission year.

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Feb 19, 2024

Half a million South Korean students breathe free as life-defining test day ends

In November 2023, it marked the defining moment for hundreds of thousands of takers of the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) in Korea.

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Feb 16, 2024

South Korea students sue after teacher ends exam 90 seconds early

A group of South Korean students are suing the government because their college admission examination ended 90 seconds earlier than scheduled.

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Dec 11, 2023

South Korea Education Ministry announces plan to reduce choice on college entrance exam from 2028

The Education Ministry announced the 2028 college admission plans, emphasizing the primary goal of the changes is to improve the fairness of the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT).

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Dec 4, 2023

South Koreans Take First Mask-Free College Exam Since Pandemic

Half a million South Koreans sat for the annual nationwide college entrance exam, the first time in four years that the exam, often considered life-defining in the highly competitive society, has taken place free of pandemic rules.

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Oct 3, 2023

In Korea, 24 teachers caught illegally selling exam questions to private educators

Twenty-four high school teachers have been caught selling exam questions to private academies before or after serving as test makers for the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) and mock CSAT exams in violation of the current laws, the education ministry said.

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Sep 15, 2023

South Korea Government exclude extra-hard questions from state-run college entrance exam

The government is set to make the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) easier by excluding questions at the highest level of difficulty from the state-administered college entrance exam, starting with September's mock test, to tackle the country's dependence on private education.

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Mar 20, 2023

Digital-driven Education Reform Plan Announced in South Korea

In South Korea, “AI-driven digital textbooks” enabled by AI technologies will be phased in math, English, and informatics starting from 2025.

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Oct 31, 2022

Korea Ministry brings back academic evaluation testing

The Ministry of Education announced its plan for improving the basic academic skills of students, under the notion that the state must ensure a certain level of scholastic achievement for all students.

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Oct 14, 2022

Korea national education committee yet to set sail

The launch of a national education committee is being stalled as related bodies dispute the right to recommend members. The committee, tasked with deliberating on long-term education policy, was initially scheduled to be launched in July.

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Dec 16, 2021

South Korea will hospitalize all Covid patients taking the college entrance exam

The decision comes as the country experiences rising caseloads again. The nine-hour test is seen as critical in determining students’ futures, and many have prepared for it since kindergarten. The Education Ministry also said that it would fully reopen elementary, middle and high schools nationwide in November.

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Sep 22, 2021

South Korea Vaccinates Pupils, Teachers Before University Entrance Exam

South Korea is moving forward with their university entrance exam and have started vaccinating high school seniors and teachers ahead of November.

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Mar 16, 2021

CSAT, the life-changing exam that won't stop for a pandemic

After strengthening preventive measures against COVID-19, nearly 500,000 students in South Korea will sit for the country's marathon university admission examinations, the CSAT.

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Mar 6, 2021

South Korea orders schools to shut as COVID-19 cases spike

South Korea ordered schools to close from Tuesday in the capital Seoul and surrounding areas as it battles its worst outbreak of novel coronavirus since the pandemic began. This news comes after 490,000 candidates recently sat down for their selectivity tests.

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Feb 11, 2021

Artificial intelligence (AI) education to begin in high schools next year

South Korea education ministry announces that Artificial intelligence (AI) will be introduced as a new subject in high schools nationwide next year. This new education policy will also be expanded to kindergarten, elementary, and middle schools by 2025.

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Oct 15, 2020

High school education to be free beginning 2021

The Ministry of Education is seeking a budget of 76.3 trillion for 2021, with hopes of making primary, middle, and high school education to be free for all students in South Korea.

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Oct 14, 2020

Strategic partnership between Uzbekistan and Korea will be strengthened

Details of the strategic partnership between South Korea and Uzbekistan. Included in the overall plan are details of education reform and collaboration.

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Oct 5, 2020

All Schools in Greater Seoul Area to Continue Offering Remote Classes Until Sept. 20

Ministry of Education announced that schools in Seoul and surrounding cities will remain online-only until September 20. This measure came as the government decided to extend the social distancing restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Sep 23, 2020

CSATs will go on with or without Covid-19

The Ministry of Education announced that an estimated 480,000 students will still take the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) on December 3, regardless of the Covid-19 pandemic. Students with Covid-19 will still be able to take the exam, either at a hospital, in case they are in serious condition, or a government-run treatment facility, in case they have mild symptoms.

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Korea, Republic of (South Korea)


Steeped in the traditional educational approach predicated on religious teachings from Buddhism and Confucianism, education in Korea reflected those cultural values that embraced deep respect for elders and older family members. This mentor approach to learning did not allow for scientific reasoning that began to sweep through Europe and the West in the 18th and 19th centuries. Indeed, Koreans did not accept the Western ideas and teaching which became prevalent in the latter 19th century.

Korea also suffered from continual invasion throughout its history, and by the beginning of the 20th century the invaders were the Japanese. Until the Japanese surrender in 1945, Korea followed a two-tiered educational system, one for Japanese and one for Koreans, which depended heavily on Japanese teachers or those Koreans educated in Japan. The sudden departure of the Japanese left a significant void in terms of trained, educated, and skilled Koreans. The few remaining teachers followed Japanese educational practices that stressed memorization and testing rather than problem solving. The situation was exacerbated by the devastating nature of the Korean Conflict of 1950 - 53 that essentially forced the Koreans to totally rebuild the educational infrastructure.

By the middle 1950s this effort began in earnest, with U.S. support, and, not surprisingly, the Korean educational system came to mirror the American model. The 50 years since have seen a miracle of modern resurgence from an agrarian society to a heavily industrialized and technologically adept country where illiteracy is virtually non-existent.


The academic year in Korea runs March to February.

Primary and Secondary Education

Korean education is compulsory up to age 15. Six years of primary (Grades 1-6) are followed by three years of middle school/junior high school (Grades 7-9) which, in turn, lead to high school entrance.

High school is three years in duration and consists of academic (general) high schools or vocational/technical high schools. Completion of the high school curriculum results in a high school certificate of the appropriate type: Immungye Kodung Hakkyo (Academic), Silop Kodung Hakkyo (Vocational), or Kanho Kodung Kisul Hakkyo (Nursing Higher Technical School). Korean is the medium of instruction though English is a compulsory subject at the secondary level.

Post-Secondary Education

First Cycle, Academic

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology maintains overall quality control of post-secondary institutions in Korea, whether public or private.

Entry into university requires an exam, the Scholastic Achievement Examination for College Entrance (SAECE), as well as a review of high school grades. Bachelor's degree programs are based on a credit system with 140 units the minimum for most degrees and last four years. Medicine and Dentistry last six years.

First Cycle, Vocational/Technical

Junior colleges also exist offering a variety of programs that are two years in length, though one may also obtain a 3-year nursing diploma. In fisheries and marine colleges, an additional semester beyond the 2-year diploma results in a certificate of practice in this professional area. The Korea Correspondence University, an independent institution that originated as a junior college in 1972, offers a 5-year bachelors' degree and is under the authority of the Ministry of Education.

Second and Third Cycles

Graduate programs lead to the award of master's and doctoral degrees very much along the model found in the United States. Master's degrees are 24 units, generally taken over two years (12 is the maximum allowable per year), as well as a thesis. The PhD consists of another 36 units (60 total graduate units) taken over three years. Additionally, doctoral candidates are required to demonstrate fluency in two foreign languages, pass an oral exam and submit a dissertation. Universities operate on a semester calendar.

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Robert Watkins

Special Assistant to the Director, University of Texas at Austin


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