South Korea Perfects Test Anxiety

You’ll often hear that the United States should take certain cues from how other countries handle education. Here’s a counterexample:

This Thursday was one of the most stressful days of the year in South Korea: Nearly 700,000 high school students took the national college entrance exam.

The test, which is given once a year, largely determines a young person’s future. It is so important that aircraft are barred from flying near the test site, and the workday begins an hour late, to prevent traffic jams that might make students late.

A police officer on a motorbike could be seen escorting a tardy student to Bosung Girls High School, one of more than 1,100 exam locations throughout the country. On the cold and windy morning, a mother shouted words of encouragement to her daughter. Other parents stood outside a gate holding coffee cups, and watching as students ran to their tests.

Is it just me, or does this seem like something out of a Terry Gilliam movie?

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.