Only nine students earned perfect scores in Korea's notorious college entrance exam, the College Scholastic Aptitude Test (CSAT) or Suneung.
The official test scores were sent out to test takers Wednesday.
Among the nine students who aced the test, four were enrolled students and the rest graduates. Their names and schools have not been revealed due to privacy issues.
The number of perfect scorers was down from last year's 15, showing it was a tougher test than previous years, according to the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, which organizes the test.
The institute acknowledged that the test was more difficult than expected, offering an apology for failing in its mission to prevent year-to-year fluctuations.
"There were complaints in the Korean language test that the reading passages were too lengthy and difficult to understand," Sung Ki-sun, the government-run institute's president, said. "We will internally go through a thorough review and try to adjust the difficulty of next year's exam."
The number of students who took the test this year was 530,220. Of them, only 148 ― 0.03 percent ― achieved a perfect score in Korean, the lowest figure since 2005.
The English language test turned out to be much harder than before, with only 5.3 percent of test takers placed on the first-tier, compared with last year's 10.03 percent. The subject is one of two graded on an absolute basis. The other is Korean history.
The CSAT categorizes students into nine tiers for the other subjects based on their scores and grades them on a curve.
source: The Korea Times