Here is an example of a major cultural difference between how much the United States and South Korea value the importance of national testing:
A test-taker gets encouragement from his mother in front of a high school in central Seoul on Nov. 17, 2016, before entering the school to sit for the state-administrated college entrance exam that takes place nationwide the same day. Some 605,000 students nationwide are taking the test to enter college in the spring semester that begins in March. (Yonhap)
Some 606,000 high school seniors and graduates in South Korea took the state-administered annual college entrance exam Thursday, as the government implemented various traffic control and anti-noise measures near nationwide testing sites.
A total of 605,987 students, down about 25,200 from last year, registered to take the standardized College Scholastic Ability Test that was administered at 1,183 testing sites, according to the Ministry of Education.
Similar to the American Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the exam is considered the most crucial test of students’ academic careers and seen as the deciding factor in their choice of college and future professions.
The exam, which consists mostly of multiple-choice questions, is divided into five sections — Korean language, mathematics, English, social and natural sciences, and a second foreign language. Starting this year, all test-takers must take a separate Korean history exam during the social and natural sciences test time.
The test started at 8:30 a.m. and ran through 5:40 p.m., including lunch and breaks.
As in previous years, the government imposed various traffic control and anti-noise measures as part of its efforts to ensure that the test be executed without any problems.
Subways and trains in the capital area extended their rush hour services by two hours to help all exam-takers arrive at the test sites on time. Bus operations were also expanded during the commuting time.
The stock markets opened for trade one hour late, while government offices and enterprises in nearby areas also started work an hour later than usual to keep the roads clear for students on their way to the test centers. [Yonhap]
You can read more at the link, but it is also common for the underclassmen to be cheering on the students taking the tests and parents flocking to Buddhist temples and churches to pray for the success of the kids taking the test. In the past USFK conducted very limited operations of post to limit noise and traffic in order to not interfere with the national testing.
A major down side of the national testing is the many suicides that tend to happen after these tests are completed by students that do not do as well as they expected.