The Korean Association for the Study of English Language and Linguistics
[ Article ]
Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 22, No. 0, pp.336-354
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print) 2586-7474 (Online)
Print publication date 31 Jan 2022
Received 28 Jan 2022 Revised 05 Mar 2022 Accepted 28 Mar 2022

2022학년도 수능영어의 체감 난이도 상승 요인에 관한 코퍼스 기반 분석

한지수 ; 이영희
A corpus-based analysis of the perceived difficulty increase in the 2022 CSAT English Test
Han, Ji-Su ; Younghee Cheri Lee
(co-first author) Graduate Student, Dept. of English Education, Chung-Ang Univ, Tel: 02-820-5391
(co-first author / corresponding author) Teaching Professor, Dasan University College, Ajou Univ, Tel: 031-219-3053

© 2022 KASELL All rights reserved
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium provided the original work is properly cited.


Since adopting an absolute scale in the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) as of 2017, the CSAT English exam has been in the spotlight for its sheer foreseeable consequences that are not perfectly tailored enough to rank test-takers, drastically lower students’ English savvy, and in turn, inevitably undermine the status of the English language as a core subject. Despite the global pandemic’s impact on educational attainment, worse, the 2022 CSAT English test-takers have lately witnessed a sharp rise in the test’s perceived difficulty compared to the previous year, thereby earning the test the moniker of a ‘hellacious exam.’ Thus, this study aims to delve into the factors that may have caused an increase in its perceived difficulty in the three dimensions: vocabulary load, syntactic pattern density, and information load pertinent to text complexity. To that end, comparable corpora were created using three different CSAT-related texts–the 2022 CSAT English texts, official CSAT test-prep workbooks by EBS, and top-ranked CSAT test-prep materials by commercial publishers–for a corpus-based comparative analysis confined only to gap-filling inference question items with high test difficulties. The results attested no statistically significant difference in any of the three categories, meaning that the text difficulty of the 2022 CSAT English is remarkably similar to just what test-takers have been exposed to in conventional academic settings. Despite the relatively acceptable level of vocabulary variety, syntactic density, and even reduced text complexity, the vast gulf between the ‘genuine’ difficulty and the ‘perceived’ difficulty might have been attributed to insufficient basic core academic skills in English and low text familiarity driven by the EBS materials indirectly linked to the CSAT. Implications will be discussed hinged upon the findings.


CSAT, perceived difficulty, vocabulary load, syntactic pattern, information load, text difficulty, lexical complexity, syntactic complexity, token coverage, corpus


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