Friday, November 18, 2016

Some 2017 Suneung (수능) English questions

Today (well, yesterday) was Suneung day here in Korea, which you might have noticed in the morning since many offices and shops opened an hour or two later than usual to give a wide berth to the high school kids making their ways to other schools. And yes, the planes were stopped again.

Suneung 2017 English section. Image: Donga

I thought you might be interested in seeing some of the questions that were on today's test. These are from the English section of course. And although it's 2016, they'd call this the 2017 test since it's for kids entering college next year.

Pencil ready?

Selected Suneung Questions 2017

#21 - Identify the correct theme of the passage

The precision of the lines on the map, the consistency with which symbols are used, the grid and/or projection system, the apparent certainty with which place names are written and placed, and the legend and scale information all give the map an aura of scientific accuracy and objectivity. Although subjective interpretation goes into the construction of these cartographic elements, the finished map appears to express an authoritative truth about the world, separate from any interests and influences. The very trust that this apparent objectivity inspires is what makes maps such powerful carriers of ideology. However unnoticeably, maps do indeed reflect the world views of either their makers or, more probably, the supporters of their makers, in addition to the political and social conditions under which they were made. Some of the simple ideological messages that maps can convey include: This land is and has long been ours; here is the center of the universe; if we do not claim this land, the enemies you most fear will.

① the conditions essential to making a map accurate
② political and social conflicts caused by maps
③ subjectivity defining the creativity of map-making
④ the authority derived from trustworthy maps
⑤ ideologies lying beneath the objectivity of maps 

#23 - Identify the correct theme of the passage

The film director, as compared to the theater director, has as his material, the finished, recorded celluloid. This material from which his final work is composed consists not of living men or real landscapes, not of real, actual stage-sets, but only of their images, recorded on separate strips that can be shortened, altered, and assembled according to his will. The elements of reality are fixed on these pieces; by combining them in his selected sequence, shortening and lengthening them according to his desire, the director builds up his own “filmic” time and “filmic” space. He does not adapt reality, but uses it for the creation of a new reality, and the most characteristic and important aspect of this process is that, in it, laws of space and time invariable and inescapable in work with actuality become obedient. The film assembles from them a new reality proper only to itself.
① Film Making: Exploration into the Unknown
② A Filmic World: Lost in Time and Space
③ Innovative Technology in Film Editing
④ A Reality in the Film Director’s Hands
⑤ The Director’s Reality Never Changes

#28 - Choose the incorrect word

When people face real adversity ─ disease, unemployment, or the disabilities of age ─ affection from a pet takes on new meaning. A pet’s continuing affection becomes crucially important for ① those enduring hardship because it reassures them that their core essence has not been damaged. Thus pets are important in the treatment of ② depressed or chronically ill patients. In addition, pets are ③ used to great advantage with the institutionalized aged. In such institutions it is difficult for the staff to retain optimism when all the patients are declining in health. Children who visit cannot help but remember ④ what their parents or grandparents once were and be depressed by their incapacities. Animals, however, have no expectations about mental capacity. They do not worship youth. They have no memories about what the aged once ⑤ was and greet them as if they were children. An old man holding a puppy can relive a childhood moment with complete accuracy. His joy and the animal’s response are the same.

#30 - Which "he/his" pronoun refers to someone different than rest?

 Dr. Paul Odland and his friend Bob travel frequently to South America, where they provide free medical treatment for disabled children of poor families. One day, they went to a local marketplace. Paul wanted to buy some souvenirs, and ① he spotted a carving that he liked. The non-English speaking seller was asking 500 pesos for the carving. With Bob acting as interpreter, Paul offered 300 and ② his opponent proposed 450. The bargaining in the noisy market became spirited, even intense, with Paul stepping up ③ his price slightly and the seller going down slowly. The pace increased so fast that Bob could not keep up with the back-and-forth interpretation. Meanwhile, observing the seller carefully, Paul sensed something wrong in Bob’s interpretation. In fact, the seller had gone below Paul’s last offer. When Paul raised his doubt, Bob instantly recognized the error and corrected ④ his interpretation. At length, they settled the deal, and ⑤ he was delighted to purchase the carving at a reasonable price and thanked Bob.
#32 - Fill in the blank

Temporal resolution is particularly interesting in the context of satellite remote sensing. The temporal density of remotely sensed imagery is large, impressive, and growing. Satellites are collecting a great deal of imagery as you read this sentence. However, most applications in geography and environmental studies do not require extremely fine-grained temporal resolution. Meteorologists may require visible, infrared, and radar information at sub-hourly temporal resolution; urban planners might require imagery at monthly or annual resolution; and transportation planners may not need any time series information at all for some applications. Again, the temporal resolution of imagery used should _______________________. Sometimes researchers have to search archives of aerial photographs to get information from that past that pre-date the collection of satellite imagery.
① be selected for general purposes
② meet the requirements of your inquiry
③ be as high as possible for any occasion
④ be applied to new technology by experts
⑤ rely exclusively upon satellite information 

#35 - Which sentence does not belong?

Most often, you will find or meet people who introduce themselves in terms of their work or by what they spend time on. These people introduce themselves as a salesman or an executive. ① There is nothing criminal in doing this, but psychologically, we become what we believe. ② Identifying what we can do in the workplace serves to enhance the quality of our professional career. ③ People who follow this practice tend to lose their individuality and begin to live with the notion that they are recognized by the job they do. ④ However, jobs may not be permanent, and you may lose your job for countless reasons, some of which you may not even be responsible for. ⑤ In such a case, these people suffer from an inevitable social and mental trauma, leading to emotional stress and a feeling that all of a sudden they have been disassociated from what once was their identity.

#36 - Place the three specified passages in the correct order.

Interestingly, being observed has two quite distinct effects on performance. In some cases, performance is decreased, even to the point of non-existence. The extreme of this is stage fright, the sudden fear of public performance.
(A) So, if you are learning to play a new sport, it is better to begin it alone, but when you become skilled at it, then you will probably perform better with an audience.
(B) There are many instances of well-known actors who, in mid-career, develop stage fright and simply cannot perform. The other extreme is that being observed enhances performance, people doing whatever it might be better when they know that others are watching.
(C) The general rule seems to be that if one is doing something new or for the first time, then being observed while doing it decreases performance. On the other hand, being observed while doing some task or engaging in some activity that is well known or well practiced tends to enhance performance.
① (A) - (C) - (B)
② (B) - (A) - (C)
③ (B) - (C) - (A)
④ (C) - (A) - (B)
⑤ (C) - (B) - (A)

How did you do? Tune in tomorrow for the answers. Just kidding. Here you go:


21 [5] - 23 [4] - 28 [5] - 30 [4] - 32 [2] - 35 [2] - 36 [3]

UPDATE: I had mixed up my "odd/even sheet" list, so the first two answers I listed here were wrong. I've double-checked them all now. Sorry about that. 

The entire English section, as well as all other sections of yesterday's test, are available as PDFs on the DongA News website:

Donga News Suneung files by section

"Friendly Fails" & other suneung musings

Regarding the test, I learned something I thought was pretty interesting today while chatting about the test with a coworker. I'll call them "friendly fails".

You may already know that many universities have special early admissions, for example for students who were outstanding in certain subjects and have sparkling school grades, or a school record filled with awards and extracurricular activities. Or even some students who lived abroad and excel in a foreign languages and pass the university interview. The nice thing about early admission is you can beat the crowd and learn your acceptance status earlier (duh). The catch is that if they accept you, you essentially are bound to go. No waiting to see who else will accept you. You made your choice by applying to the early admission track. 

Anyway, students who get granted early admission will usually know their result before Suneung day, meaning that for some kids, despite their years of study, they may not actually need to sit the test. Their scores are irrelevant; they already got their "in". 

But some of them will attend the Suneung test anyway, and purposefully fail it, purposefully choosing answers they know to be wrong. They believe that by doing this, they are contributing to lowering the average nationwide score set, which will help make their friends, who desperately need a high school, seem to have done "better" than the national average. If lots of students did poorly (or seem to have done poorly), then your mediocre score seems relatively higher (and this is a test where relativity is everything). If not for the entire test, they can do this for particular subjects that they know they won't be submitting (like a second foreign language score for a science major, etc.)

You guess is as good as mine as whether this actually works and has any effect (I doubt it), but it could be a nice sort of moral support or mental charm for the serious takers. 

I was also told a rumor that any student who gets 0%, a total failure, is automatically granted admission to Seoul National University, because anybody able to beat the statistics and purposefully fail every single question is obviously a genius who knew every answer's correct choice and skillfully avoided it. Take that for what you will. 

Caveat: I am not an expert on the Korean education system. There are details I could be getting wrong. I have never taken this test nor applied to college here. That's probably good because I doubt I'd have made the cut. 

Best wishes for all yesterday's test takers and for their college dreams! Now they've earned the right to lame-duck their way through the rest of the year. If you've got coworkers with high school 3rd-grader kids, show them some love. This could be the most worrisome time for them as their kid's acceptance (and rejection) letters start pouring in.

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