SEOUL, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- South Korean students took an annual college entrance exam on Thursday, seen as an all-important test in the education-obsessed society.
The College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT), which started from 8:40 a.m. local time, would run through 5:40 p.m. at 1,185 test sites nationwide, according to the education ministry.
A total of 548,734 high school students and graduates registered to take the nine-hour exam this year, down 46,190 from the previous year.
It was the lowest number of applicants in 27 years amid the low birth rate that led to the continued fall in teenagers of school age.
The college entrance exam is believed here to determine students' course of life and future professions in a South Korean society where graduating from a prestigious university is crucial to obtaining a successful job.
The government took measures to control traffic and reschedule the morning rush hour to help students arrive on time at the test sites.
Under government orders, public offices opened an hour later than usual to alleviate traffic jam during the morning rush hour. The local bourse also opened an hour later.
Buses and subways extended rush-hour services by two hours to help all test-takers arrive on time, and traffic was restricted by police within 200 meters of test centers.
All airplane takeoffs and landings will be suspended for 35 minutes from 1:05 p.m. during the listening section of an English exam as part of the noise-control measures.
The CSAT consists of five sections, including the Korean language, mathematics, English, the Korean history and natural sciences and the second foreign language and Chinese character.