Korea is in a unique situation after it has come to attention that over half of the successful candidates for the Civil Service Examination are students who are not actually interested in working as civil servants.
The Civil Service Examination is deeply rooted in Korean history, and has always been held in high regard. As a result, many universities offer incentives in the form of scholarships for students who have passed the exam. However, it seems that medical and pharmacy students are taking advantage of this.
In one university, out of 97 students who passed the first step of the series of exams, over 50 of them are majoring in medicine or pharmacy.
Part of the reason why students who do not major in relevant programs such as history or legal studies can have such successful results is due to the fact that the Korean History and Constitution (law) sections were recently removed from the exam in favor of critical reading and situational judgment.
Cho Eun Jung, a teacher at an academy, says, “It’s not a test where memorizing works. So there are people who just do some practice questions and get the hang of it, then take the test and get a high score.”
Since universities offer scholarships for passing step one, many students take the test for the scholarship and choose not to write the second part of the exams. In fact, it was revealed that over a quarter of those who passed the first step did not write the second step.
After this controversy, the board has decided to add the Constitution section back to the exams starting in 2017.