South Korean cram schools in U.S. SAT scandal

AFP-JIJI

South Korean officials launched a probe Monday into cram schools after a cheating scandal that led to the nationwide cancellation of U.S. college entrance exams earlier this month.

The education office in Seoul started the special probe into a number of private academies suspected of illegally obtaining questions for the SAT test and offering them to pupils, a spokesman said.

The administrator of the SAT — the most widely used test for applying to U.S. colleges — scrapped the scheduled May 4 exams after discovering questions were already circulating among some test-prep schools.

The College Board also canceled subject tests in biology scheduled for next month.

Those cram schools discovered to have leaked questions will face closure as well as special tax audits, with the owners banned from opening new schools for a certain period, it added.

According to the Institute of International Education, South Korea sent 72,295 students to study in the U.S. in the 2011-12 school year — the third-largest provider of foreign students to U.S. colleges after China and India.

Cram schools for global tests — not to mention domestic college exams — are a lucrative industry in education-obsessed South Korea, where qualifications from top colleges are crucial for careers and even marriage prospects.