November 12, 2009 | Diane Johnson | Leave a comment It's time again for one of the most stressful days in South Korea. Nearly 700,000 high school students took the national college entrance exam. This is a big ordeal. The annual test determines a student's future. There is so much importance placed on the exam that planes can't fly near the test sites and the workday begins one hour later so students can get to the center without being late and facing traffic. Police officers even escort girls toward their school. There are 1,100 exam locations throughout the country. Parents usher their children to the test and encourage them while others wait outside and watch their students take the test. Students even come prepared with seat cushions and water bottles. Students prepare for this test their entire life. One student reported studying six hours a day outside of school in order to prepare. The tension is high because the scores not only affect universities but everything else. One student said "It's all going to be changed by this." The stress gets so high for some students that they end up committing suicide. One boy jumped off a bridge earlier this morning and there are other cases. For other students that have opted to take the test and spent a large percent of their time studying head for the testing centers while parents and grandparents gather and pray at Buddhist temples in Seoul and throughout the country. Parents pray for their child's college placement exams. Some parents have been praying for the past 100 days. Students future careers and ultimately their lives boil down to one test on one single day. The pressure on students is so high to succeed that many high school students don't want to have a child in their country because of all the pressure. The country places a lot of emphasis on education and because of that 83 percent of high school graduates go to universities, but first they must do well on the test. The exam is roughly nine hours long and determines college admission. The stress and pressure being placed on these kids is astronomical. A child's future shouldn't depend on one day and one test. Plus there is the fact that many students have a disadvantage because they don't test very well. It goes back to the fact that people learn and test differently. Some do great on tests while others do better on interviews or projects. The government should give students more of a chance to show that they can be successful in life without this one test. Even though graduation rates and college attendance are high, students still need to be able to have a life. They need to spend time with friends socializing, playing sports, and spending time with family. Not everything can be learned in the classroom. They need to experience high school and college because for many us that was the best time of our life. There is way to much pressure placed on these South Korean students and that is shown with students that are committing suicide or not wanting to have children. While the SAT and ACT in America are the big test they really don't mean that much. They give a background to show what you have learned. However students can go on to college and live a successful life with the value of hard work, instead of one test. Education is extremely important and Koreans and Americans both understand that. Many Americans don't do well in secondary school but go on to college and open their own businesses. They lead successful lives even if they didn't do well on the test. The American system isn't the greatest and there is a lot of room for improvement, but the South Koreans need to relax a little bit. One test cannot and should not determine the intelligence or worth of a student.