On November 13, over half a million Korean high school students will take the 2015 College Scholastic Ability Exam, known colloquially as sooneung. Similar to the SAT and ACT, sooneung scores bear heavily upon college admissions results. The eight-hour long exam is described as a life or death experience, with many students enduring long hours at hagwons to boost their scores. A high sooneung score can lead to acceptance letters from SKY (Seoul National University, Korea University, Yonsei University) or elite international universities.
Since the exam is only offered once a year, extra measures are taken nationwide to ensure a noise-free, stress-free test-taking environment for the third-year high schoolers. Work starts an hour later to clear up the streets and roads; police officers escort late students to test sites on motorcycles; flights are prohibited from taking off and landing during the exam’s listening portion; and ambulances keep their sirens silent. For the curious, blogger Ask a Korean! created a short sample of the exam.
Many idols have created videos to wish these stressed students luck on the exam. This year’s idol sooneung takers include A Pink‘s Hayoung and B.A.P‘s Zelo.
Hwaiting to all students taking the exam!