Students Sue University After Teacher Ends Exam 90 Seconds Early

By: Ben Campbell | Published: Dec 29, 2023

South Korean students have decided to collectively sue their government after a college admission examination was cut short by around 90 seconds.

According to the lawsuit, the students are seeking damages of up to 20 million won, or around $15,400, which amounts to the cost of studying for and taking the exam again the following year.

Students Demand Compensation

According to a lawyer representing the upset students, he argues the teacher’s blunder negatively affected the test results of many pupils.

South Korean students listen to teacher in class and take notes

Source: Freepik

So, the 39 students from a high school in the nation’s capital, Seoul, have demanded compensation as they plan to retake the test the following year.

Teachers' Mistakes Had Severe Consequences for Students

According to the students’ lawyer, the exam teacher’s blunder led to him prematurely setting off an alarm indicating the test was now finished.

Exam teacher holds a pencil and speaks to students before they begin their test

Source: Freepik

The students, backed by their lawyers, argue that while it was only 90 seconds early, it dramatically affected their overall test scores.

Mistake Came During a Tough Category

The mistake was made during the first of many tests. Throughout the day, various examinations are carried out, each based on a different subject.

South Korean students take their College Scholastic Ability Test

Source: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The mistake occurred during a particularly tough section of the test, and students argue that every second counts when their future is at stake.

School Tries to Correct the Error

After realizing they had made a mistake, the school returned the papers to the students after they returned from a short lunch break, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency (via BBC).

Students sit at a desk as they complete the final stages of an exam

Source: Freepik

However, they were only given 90 seconds to work on any questions they did not get the chance to finish. They were not allowed to change answers that had already been marked.

Students Hopeful for Compensation

The students are hopeful the government will correct the mistake and pay them the full compensation they have requested.

Korean students pictured during a break from their school examinations

Source: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The money is going toward retaking the test in the following year, which will require a full year of study.


Focus of Students Affected

The pupils affected by the teacher’s apparent blunder claimed it disturbed their focus on the exams that followed later in the day.

Frustrated Asain student sits at her desk surrounded by various notebooks

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According to reports, some were so distraught by the mistake that they decided to skip further exams and go home early.


Education Authorities Haven’t Apologized

The law firm representing the students claims the education authorities did not issue a single apology to the students who were affected.

A Korean lawyer dressed in a blue suit looks over notes on his tablet

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It also alleged the teacher who rang the bell used a personal device to do so instead of a state-designated clock (via Yonhap).


Intense Pressure on Students

Media outlets have suggested that the case is a perfect example of the intense pressure placed on students across South Korea.

Student puts his head down face first on a desk surrounded by school books

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Each year, thousands of Korean teenagers partake in the difficult “Suneung” daylong examination after revising for hours in so-called cram schools.


The Path to a Prestigious University

Added pressure is placed on the students as only those with the highest marks have any chance of applying for a space at any of the nation’s top universities.

Yonsei University, located in Seoul, South Korea, covered in greenery

Source: 콩가루/Wikipedia

Students are openly taught in South Korea that the best way to ensure they can get a high-paying job in the future is by doing well in this exam.


Education Blammed for Teenage Depression

The Asian nation’s ultra-competitive education system has had a direct effect on the ever-increasing levels of depression and suicide among the younger generation.

A young South Korean child holds his head as he clearly visibility upset

Source: Freepik

As the exam results are viewed as a way in which young people can begin to climb the social status ladder and possibly receive future marriage proposals, it brings with it unbearable pressure for the students.


Nationwide Measure to Minimize Distractions

The examination is held with such high regard that nationwide measures are introduced on the day to ensure students have little to no distractions.

A red and white airplane sits in the parking bay of a popular airport

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These include banning aircraft takeoff or landings during the listening portion of the English test. This year alone, it led to the rescheduling of more than 90 flights.