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S. Korean GRE takers carry on dodgy tradition

01-31-2011 14:47 BJT

SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- When South Korean students set their eyes on an academic goal, they are willing to go to great lengths to achieve it.

The Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), a standardized test required for admission at most U.S. graduate schools, is no exception. Students here, many of them ferocious test takers, would readily put themselves through a self-imposed study boot camp that often involves months of rote memorization.

Then they would fly overseas to take the test. South Korea, one of the top student-sending countries to the U.S. universities, is also one of the four places in the world where a computer-based test (CBT) has been made unavailable since October 2002.

Till the new version of the GRE is introduced later this year, many South Koreans, who opt not to take paper-based test (PBT) offered up to three times a year as a split-test administration, will continue traveling to nearby countries.

Despite this obvious disadvantage, nobody calls for a revolt against the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the U.S.-based testing organization that handles the GRE.

South Koreans, along with others in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan where CBT is unavailable, invite trouble for themselves by sharing test-taking experiences online and posting questions that appeared on actual tests.

So prevalent is the tradition of leaking test questions that some big-name private institutions offering GRE classes here base their class materials on GRE questions taken from real tests. Those classes are attended even by many already studying in the U. S., who return home during vacation for a rigorous study regimen.

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