Last Updated on 2023-01-28 , 10:08 am
Study hard, so you can get a good job and have a good life. I’m sure this is what most Singaporean children hear from their parents all the time. In fact, exams are taken so seriously here that they are used as conversation starters: “So how’s who-and-who? Taking PSLE this year right?”
But just as we wallow in our own plight of being pressured to perform well academically, let us be reminded that we are not as INTENSE as other countries are.
Why do I say so?
Over in Ewha Girls’ High School in Seoul on Thursday, students held up banners of motivational messages to spur on their seniors who are taking the college entrance exam in South Korea.
Still think that your mother’s force-feeding of chicken essence down your throat is too much?
The College Entrance Exam
On Thursday, more than half a million South Korean students sat for the exam they had been preparing for their whole lives. The college entrance exam, also known as suneung, is an eight-hour, multi-subject affair.
How well the students do in suneung is crucial, for it dictates whether or not they are able to enter prestigious universities in Korea. Out of nearly 223 national and private universities in South Korea, most students aspire to enroll in Seoul National University (SNU), Korea University and Yonsei University. Just think of them as Ivy League universities in South Korea.
Ko Eun-Suh, a South Korean student says, “if you want to be recognized, if you want to reach your dreams, you need to go to one of these three universities. Everyone judges you based on your degree and where you got it”.
One’s result in suneung is far-reaching for it determines an individual’s job prospects, income and future relationships.
Sounds a little like…Singapore. No?
Exams Come First
Recall your PSLE/O’Level days. I’m sure many of us were shooed out of the house earlier than usual, just in case the MRT fails us. And if we were to be tardy, concessions were made so that we could still take our exam in peace.
South Korea takes it to a whole new level.
According to The Straits Times, the exam is so important that Government working hours were pushed back an hour to prevent traffic congestion in the morning. More buses and trains were provided between 6 am and 10 am.
On top of that, 12 000 police officers and volunteers were sent to ferry students who were possibly late.
And over in Singapore, no one in the office even knows when kids are having their exams #truestory
In addition, 134 flights were rescheduled to reduce noise disruption to students taking the English listening test in exam locations near the airport.
And if you’re not feeling the intensity of it yet, South Korean mothers actually came together to pray for their children’s success in the exam.
So the next time you are asked to down that chicken essence, stop complaining and just do it. After all, it’s all for your own good.
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