Wednesday, November 7, 2012

[Culture] Korea’s CSAT Suneung Siheom

Interesting stories about Korea’s CSAT
Suneung Siheom

Today is Suneung day which is a College Scholastic Ability Test day. It is considered one of the most important days of students’ lives because most people in Korea believe that getting into a good university determines their future lives. It’s not just a test, but a life-or death exam. Because of that, there are many interesting suneung culture and superstitious. I will tell you some interesting stories about Suneung today.

  What is Suneung? 

Suneung is a standardized College Scholastic Ability Test accepted by all South Korean universities. Suneung is managed by the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation and it is offered on the second Thursday of November of every year.

On the test day, workers are allowed to be late to work in order to ensure minimal traffic in the morning and parents spend the entire day prying for their children.

Parents or grandparents of test takers climb up to Mt. Palgong and pray to Gatbawi for the students’ good CSAT scores during the suneung season and even while their sons or grandsons are taking the suneung exam.

Often, students who are late for the test are escorted by police and planes are grounded to reduce noise pollution. 

  Suneung Gifts

Students receive many suneung presents during the exam season from family members or acquaintances who wish them good luck on the test. 

Most common gifts are sticky rice cakes(찹쌀떡) and Korean taffy(엿) because sticky foods are believed to be helpful for the students to stick to (enter to) the university they want to go. 

There are also many brilliant presents such as toilet papers and axe or fork shaped snacks. Giving toilet paper means to solve the questions well and giving axe shaped snacks means to guess the right answer. Using axe is “도끼로 찍다” in Korean and the verb “찍다” is homonym of guessing(찍다) in Korean. Using toilet paper is “휴지를 풀다” in Korean and the verb “풀다” is homonym of solving(풀다) in Korean.

Chocolate is also one of the commonly used suneung gifts because sweets help to increase students’ brain circulation.

  Suneung Superstition

There are also some interesting suneung superstitious. 

1. Don’t drop your pen!

Students believe if their pen fells off of the desk while they are taking the test, they will fail in the suneung test. Actually, it’s not allowed for test takers to pick up the dropped pen because bending over regarded as cheating. The proctor gives the students a new pen instead.

2. Drink Seoul Milk if you want to enter Seoul National University!

There are some milk companies named after Korean famous Universities such as Seoul University and Yeonsei University. Students used to believe that if they drink Seoul Milk or Yeonsei Milk, they can enter the Seoul University or Yeonsei University. 

3. Don’t watch “007 SKYfall”!

The last superstition is what I’ve heard recently. Many of you might know the meaning of SKY Universities. SKY is an acronym for a group of three major universities in Korea, Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yeonsei University. People say if they watch the movie SKY Fall, they will fail to enter the SKY Universities. 

I wish everyone good luck on suneung exam and please do your best ! :)


  1. very informative post indeed.. being enrolled in,I was looking for such articles online to assist me.. and your post helped me a lot :)

    1. It's very nice to hear that my article was helpful :)

  2. Interesting, especially about the movie.