When the application for the 2018 College Scholastic Ability Test was announced, the result of it surprised a lot of people. Of the students who chose a second foreign language this year, 71.4% chose Arabic, which is seven out of 10 students.
In other words, Arabic has become the most popular language among high school students, even more than Chinese and Japanese. The students say that Arabic is like a lottery.
▲ Arabic examination paper
The CSAT (College Scholastic Ability Test) that will be held on November 16, 2017 is a standardized test in Korea similar to the SAT(Scholastic Assessment Test).
Both tests are for high school graduates or prospective graduates and they are both used to enter university. However, the CSAT is always held in November for high school seniors, whereas with the SAT, you have several dates to choose from. You can even take it several times.
Arabic is not a language that is easily accessible in Korea. There are only six schools that teach Arabic in the country.
The reason why students choose Arabic is because Arabic as a second foreign language is evaluated by relative evaluations.
Relative evaluation means that the score of one student is relatively determined by the score of other students.
In the case of Arabic, most students do not do well, so if you perform a little better than other students, you can be the second or third ranking.
CSAT is classified into 9 rankings. First ranking is the top 4%, second ranking is from 4 to 11%, and third ranking is from 11 to 23%.
Some students say, “If you study the Arabic alphabet for one week, you can be the third ranking.” Others also say, “If you study Arabic hard for one month, you can be the first ranking.”
On the other hand, students who study Chinese and Japanese for a long time find it hard to be in the first ranking unless they get a perfect test score, due to intensive competition and low level of difficulty.
Even students from the foreign language high schools, where they may study a second language seriously for three years, end up choosing Arabic as a second foreign language.
There is another benefit to scoring high in Arabic. Many prestigious universities in Korea has a policy that allows students to use their second foreign language grade to replace the grade of either their social studies or science course.
Even though you are one of the top students, it is very difficult to be first ranking in both social studies and science because they are very competitive subjects.
Therefore these students can strategically choose to focus on either their social studies or science course, along with Arabic, so that they can easily be the 1st ranking for two subjects.
It can be called an entrance examination strategy, but there are people who criticize this policy and the harsh competition that stop students from choosing your favorite subjects, like Chinese or Japanese.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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