Matura za pasem, przygotowania (zapewne) idą pełną parą. My natomiast mamy bardzo ciekawy artykuł Julii Daszkiewicz (klasa 4c) o maturze w… Korei Południowej! Przyjrzyjmy się młodym ludziom po drugiej stronie globu – dlaczego śpią (średnio) 3-4 godziny dziennie? Nie pochwalamy! 🙂 Artykuł ukaże się w nowym numerze naszego anglojęzycznego magazynu AimHigh.


Suneung 수능 – The Korean 'matura’ exam

Suneung is the name for The College Scholastic Ability Test or CSAT. It is a standardized test recognized by South Korean universities.

In Poland we usually associate May with the 'matura’ exam, nevertheless, in South Korea, it is the complete opposite. As for Koreans, May is the month of the family. CSAT is administered on the third Thursday in November each year by the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation.

What else distinguishes the Suneung from our polish 'matura’?

  • it is held on only one day
  • It lasts from 8:40 a.m. to 5:40 p.m.
  • the obligatory exams are: Korean, maths, English and history of South Korea
  • there is no division between basic and extended levels of the subject
  • there are no oral exams

Korean high school students start the exam with Korean. Then they are writing math exams after which they are provided with a lunch break. The most important test, English, is held after lunch. The importance is so high that all of the planes are grounded and banned from flying in order not to disturb the examined. Later on, they struggle with Korean history, followed by additional exams. Koreans are allowed to pick from zero to two extra exams. They are also given the opportunity to sit an exam in an additional language.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the lives of all Koreans depend on this exam. Parents send their children to hagwons at an extremely young age. These extracurricular private schools are supposed to qualify their pupils for the Suneung at the highest level. It is estimated that the average Korean high school student sleeps about 3 to 4 hours a day. The rest of the day they spend by the books preparing for the most significant exam in their life. The stress connected to high expectations and comparing grades to other students leads to one of the highest levels of suicides among teenagers.

The grades they can get from the exam are from 1 to 9. Where 1, which is about 96-100 points out of 100, is the highest to be received. Annually approximately 4% of examined are passing with level 1.

The CSAT sheets are one of the most guarded secrets of the country. Special examiners are chosen to prepare the Suneung. The group of about 300 high school teachers and academic professors are being cut off from the world and placed in an unknown location for a month. They cannot leave this isolated place until the end of the last exam.

Sheets are transported to schools at night in trucks. The drivers are not allowed to leave their cars before the beginning of the first exam.

Here are some of the anecdotes connected to the Korean 'matura’:

  • The day of the Suneung is reported to be the coldest day in a year
  • Students avoid eating Miyeok, which is a seaweed soup consumed by Koreans on their birthday
  • The examined are eating sticky food – it is said that the answers would better stick to them
  • In order to avoid cheating, students are assigned to different schools to write the exam
  • On this special day, some companies delay the start of work. It is because the students cannot arrive late for the Suneung
  • Police help to escort the examined to schools

However, in South Korean culture, the Suneung is the exam which determines the life of young Koreans. We have to remember that we are given a lot of different opportunities in life. We do not have to receive the best grade on the 'matura’ exam, as long as we develop new skills and are ready to live the life which would satisfy us and make us feel accomplished.

Julia Daszkiewicz (4c)

Try solving the examples of exercises from the Suneung. Good luck!