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Korea
Student performance (PISA 2022)
  • In mathematics, the main topic of PISA 2022, 15-year-olds in score 527 points compared to an average of 472 points in OECD countries.
  • On average, 15-year-olds score 515 points in reading compared to an average of 476 points in OECD countries.
  • In Korea, the average performance in science of 15-year-olds is 528 points, compared to an average of 485 points in OECD countries.
  • In Korea, 84% of students attained at least Level 2 proficiency in mathematics, significantly more than on average across OECD countries (OECD average: 69%). At a minimum, these students can interpret and recognize, without direct instructions, how a simple situation can be represented mathematically
  • Some 23% of students in Korea were top performers in mathematics, meaning that they attained Level 5 or 6 in the PISA mathematics test (OECD average: 9%). At these levels, students can model complex situations mathematically, and can select, compare and evaluate appropriate problem-solving strategies for dealing with them.
  • In Korea, 41% of students (the largest share) were in the top international quintile of the socio-economic scale, meaning that they were among the most advantaged students who took the PISA test in 2022. Their average score in mathematics was 564 score points; one of the highest for students of similar socio-economic background.
  • In Korea socio-economically advantaged students (the top 25% in terms of socio-economic status) outperformed disadvantaged students (the bottom 25%) by 97 score points in mathematics. This is similar to the average difference between the two groups (93 score points) across OECD countries.
  • Boys and girls performed at similar levels on average in mathematics but girls outperformed boys in reading by 34 score points in Korea. Globally, in mathematics, boys outperformed girls in 40 countries and economies, girls outperformed boys in another 17 countries or economies. In reading, girls, on average, scored above boys in all but two countries and economies that participated in PISA 2022 (79 out of 81).
  • In Korea, 21% of students reported that their school building was closed for more than three months due to COVID-19. On average across OECD countries, 51% of students experienced similarly long school closures. In education systems where performance remained high and students' sense of belonging improved, fewer students experienced longer school closures.
  • In Korea, 96% reported that they had attended pre-primary education for one year or more (OECD average: 94%).
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    The following list displays indicators for which your selected country shows the highest and lowest values among countries. The list can be sorted by level of education or by age group. All rankings are calculated including available data from OECD and partner countries. Find out more about the methodology here.

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    The percentage of low performers in all subjects (mathematics, reading and science) is one of the lowest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (7.3 %, rank 75/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of low performers in at least one subject (among mathematics, reading and science) is one of the lowest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (23.4 %, rank 75/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of top performers in all subjects (mathematics, reading and science) is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (6.4 %, rank 4/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Student performance in mathematics

    The mean score in mathematics performance is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (527 PISA Score, rank 6/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Boys' performance in mathematics is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (530 PISA Score, rank 6/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Girls' performance in mathematics is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (525 PISA Score, rank 6/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The score difference in mathematics between the 10% of students with the highest scores and the 10% of students with the lowest scores is one of the largest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (272 PISA Score, rank 5/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of low performers in mathematics (below proficiency Level 2) is one of the lowest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (16.2 %, rank 74/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of top performers in mathematics (proficiency Level 5 or 6) is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (22.9 %, rank 6/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of low-performing boys in mathematics (below proficiency Level 2) is one of the lowest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (17.7 %, rank 74/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of top-performing boys in mathematics (proficiency Level 5 or 6) is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (26.1 %, rank 6/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of low-performing girls in mathematics (below proficiency Level 2) is one of the lowest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (14.6 %, rank 75/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of top-performing girls in mathematics (proficiency Level 5 or 6) is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (19.4 %, rank 5/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Student performance in reading

    The mean score in reading performance is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (515 PISA Score, rank 4/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Boys' performance in reading is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (499 PISA Score, rank 6/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Girls' performance in reading is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (533 PISA Score, rank 2/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of low performers in reading (below proficiency Level 2) is one of the lowest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (14.7 %, rank 75/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of top performers in reading (proficiency Level 5 or 6) is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (13.3 %, rank 5/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of low-performing boys in reading (below proficiency Level 2) is one of the lowest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (18.9 %, rank 75/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of top-performing boys in reading (proficiency Level 5 or 6) is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (10.9 %, rank 9/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of low-performing girls in reading (below proficiency Level 2) is one of the lowest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (10 %, rank 76/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of top-performing girls in reading (proficiency Level 5 or 6) is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (16 %, rank 3/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Student performance in science

    The mean score in science performance is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (528 PISA Score, rank 5/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Boys' performance in science is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (526 PISA Score, rank 5/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Girls' performance in science is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (530 PISA Score, rank 5/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of low performers in science (below proficiency Level 2) is one of the lowest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (13.7 %, rank 74/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of top performers in science (proficiency Level 5 or 6) is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (15.7 %, rank 4/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of low-performing boys in science (below proficiency Level 2) is one of the lowest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (15.3 %, rank 74/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of top-performing boys in science (proficiency Level 5 or 6) is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (17 %, rank 4/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of low-performing girls in science (below proficiency Level 2) is one of the lowest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (12 %, rank 74/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of top-performing girls in science (proficiency Level 5 or 6) is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (14.2 %, rank 4/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    A small share of disadvantaged students in Korea have repeated a grade, compared to other countries and economies participating in PISA. (3.2 %, rank 68/76 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The difference in grade repetition between advantaged students and disadvantaged students is one of the smallest among 15-year-old students. (-0.2 %, rank 7/76 , 2022) Download Indicator

    School climate

    A small share of students reported skipping a whole school day at least once in the two weeks prior to the PISA test. (2.4 %, rank 80/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The disciplinary climate in language-of-instruction lessons is one of the best compared to other countries and economies. (0.84 PISA Index, rank 2/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Compared to other OECD and partner countries/economies, Korea seems t have a lower level of school safety risks. (-0.41 PISA Index, rank 67/69 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Korea ranked among the countries with the smallest difference in mathematics performance between students arriving late for school at least once in the two weeks prior to the PISA test and those who didn't (before accounting for students' and schools' socio-economic profile). (-50 PISA Score points, rank 69/69 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Korea ranked among the countries with the smallest difference in mathematics performance between students arriving late for school at least once in the two weeks prior to the PISA test and those who didn't (after accounting for students' and schools' socio-economic profile). (-36 PISA Score points, rank 68/70 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Students who reported that they had missed school for more than three consecutive months at any education level at least once are proportionally less in number in Korea than in other OECD and partner countries/economies. (2 %, rank 74/74 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Korea has a relatively small difference in mathematics performance between students having missed school for more than three consecutive months at least once at any education level and those who did not (before accounting for students' and schools' socio-economic profile). (-92 PISA Score points, rank 70/71 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Korea has a relatively small difference in mathematics performance between students having missed school for more than three consecutive months at least once at any education level and those who did not (after accounting for students' and schools' socio-economic profile). (-79 PISA Score points, rank 71/71 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Classroom environment

    Korea has one of the smallest share of students in schools that group students by abillity for all subjects. (1.1 %, rank 74/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Between 2018 and 2022, the change in the index of shortage of educational material in Korea was relatively smaller than in other OECD and partner countries/economies. (-0.38 PISA Index, rank 32/39 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Student well-being

    In Korea, the percentage of students who did not eat because there was not enough money to buy food is particularly small compared to the other OECD or partner countries/economies. (3.9 %, rank 62/66 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Among OECD and partner countries with available data, Korea has one of the lowest index of mathematics anxiety. (-0.05 PISA Index, rank 70/76 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Students' engagement, drive and self-beliefs

    The time spent on homework per day in a typical school week in Korea is long compared to the other OECD and partner countries/economies. (2 Hours, rank 6/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Korea has one of the largest differences in mathematics performance associated with a one-hour increase in the time spent doing homework in mathematics, after accounting for students' and schools' socio-economic profile. (14 PISA Score points, rank 1/59 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Students' life satisfaction

    In Korea, the average level of student's life satisfaction is one of the lowest among countries and economies participating in PISA. (6.36 PISA Index, rank 66/73 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Sense of belonging at school

    In 2015, the index of sense of belonging was one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (0.26 PISA Index, rank 5/78 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Bullying

    In 2015, the index of exposure to bullying was one of the lowest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (-0.91 PISA Index, rank 79/79 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Performance and socio-economic status

    The maths performance of students in the top international decile of economic, social and cultural status (ESCS) scale is among the highest, compared to countries and economies participating in PISA. (578 PISA Score, rank 6/79 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of low performers in maths among disadvantaged students in Korea is among the lowest compared to countries and economies participating in PISA. (28.8 %, rank 73/79 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of top performers in maths among disadvantaged students in Korea is among the highest compared to countries and economies participating in PISA. (9.5 %, rank 6/79 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of low performers in maths among advantaged students in Korea is among the lowest compared to countries and economies participating in PISA. (6.4 %, rank 72/79 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The percentage of top performers in maths among advantaged students in Korea is among the highest compared to countries and economies participating in PISA. (39.3 %, rank 5/79 , 2022) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the variation within schools of the mathematics performance is among the largest, when compared to average total variation across OECD countries. (98.1 %, rank 2/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Korea has one of the largest differences in mathematics score associated with repeating a grade among OECD and partner countries/economies, before accounting for students' and schools' socio-economic profile. (-44 PISA Score points, rank 6/76 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Performance and diversity

    The percentage of students with an immigrant backgroung is one of the lowest among countries and economies participating in PISA. (0.4 %, rank 76/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Among 15 year-olds, the share of second generation immigrant students in Korea is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.1 %, rank 78/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Teachers

    Between 2012 and 2022, Korea recorded a particularly small change in the percentage of teachers fully certified by the appropriate authority, compared to the other OECD and partner countries/economies. (-15.4 %, rank 30/38 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Governance

    The percentage of students attending government-dependent private schools is one of the highest among PISA-participating countries and economies. (26.6 %, rank 8/78 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Demographic indicators

    The coverage of the national 15-year-old population in PISA 2018 is one the higest among countries and economies participating in PISA. (102.39 Ratio, rank 1/80 , 2022) Download Indicator

    COVID-19 effects on education

    Korea cumulated one of the shortest school closure periods because of COVID-19 according to students (2 Months, rank 72/77 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Korea cumulated one of the shortest school closure periods because of COVID-19 according to principals (30 Days, rank 75/77 , 2022) Download Indicator

    In Korea, students are characterized by their strong emotional control, when compared to other OECD and partner countries/economies, as measured by the PISA index of students' emotional control. (0.18 PISA Index, rank 5/61 , 2022) Download Indicator

    In Korea, the schools were relatively badly prepared for remote instruction before the pandemic, compared to other OECD and partner countries/economies. (-0.59 PISA Index, rank 77/77 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Compared to other OECD and partner countries/economies, students in Korea had a relatively bad experience with learning at home. (-0.34 PISA Index, rank 70/71 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Compared to other OECD and partner countries/economies, students in Korea had few problems with remote learning. (-0.44 PISA Index, rank 75/77 , 2022) Download Indicator

    Korea ranked among the countries where students reported a relatively low feeling of confidence in their capacity for self-directed learning, compared to the other OECD and partner countries/economies. (-0.22 PISA Index, rank 69/76 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The difference between advantaged and disadvantaged students in the confidence they have on their capacity to drive self-directed learning is one of the largest among countries participating in PISA (0.78 PISA Index, rank 1/73 , 2022) Download Indicator

    The difference between boys and girls in the confidence they have on their capacity to drive self-directed learning is one of the smallest among countries participating in PISA (-0.19 PISA Index, rank 27/30 , 2022) Download Indicator


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    General findings
    
    
    • Singapore scored significantly higher than all other countries/economies in mathematics (575 points) and, along with Hong Kong (China), Japan, Korea, Macao (China), and Chinese Taipei, outperformed all other countries and economies in mathematics. Another 17 countries also performed above the OECD average (472 points), ranging from Estonia (510 points) to New Zealand (479 points).
    • Boys outperformed girls in mathematics by nine score points and girls outperformed boys in reading by 24 score points on average across OECD countries. In science, the performance difference between boys and girls is not significant.
    • An average of 69% of students are at least basically proficient in mathematics in OECD countries. This means they are beginning to demonstrate the ability and initiative to use mathematics in simple real-life situations.
    • In 16 out of 81 countries/economies participating in PISA 2022, more than 10% of students attained Level 5 or 6 proficiency, meaning they are high-performing: they understand that a problem is quantitative in nature and can formulate complex mathematical models to solve it. By contrast, less than 5% of students are high-performing in 42 countries/economies.
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    • Singapore scored significantly higher than all other countries/economies in reading (543 points) and science (561 points). Behind Singapore, Ireland performed as well as Estonia, Japan, Korea and Chinese Taipei while another 14 education systems performed above the OECD average in reading (476 points), ranging from Macao (China) (510 points) to Italy (482 points).
    • About three out of four students have achieved basic proficiency in reading in OECD countries.
    • In reading, an OECD average of 7% of students attained the highest proficiency levels of 5 or 6. In 13 countries/economies, more than 10% of students are top performers in reading.
    • No change in the OECD average over consecutive PISA assessments up to 2018 has ever exceeded five points in reading: in PISA 2022, however, the OECD average dropped by about 10 score points in reading compared to PISA 2018.. The unprecedented drops reading point to the shock effect of COVID-19 on most countries.
    • Only four countries and economies improved their performance between PISA 2018 and 2022 in all three subjects: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic and Chinese Taipei.
    • Trend analysis of PISA results reveals a decades-long decline that began well before the pandemic. In reading, performances peaked in 2012 and 2009, respectively, before dipping while performance began a downward descent in mathematics before 2018 in Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Slovak Republic and Switzerland.
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    • Mean performance in science remained stable.
    • In science, the highest-performing education systems are Singapore, Japan, Macao (China), Chinese Taipei, Korea, Estonia, Hong Kong (China) and Canada. Finland performed as well as Canada in science. In addition to these nine countries and economies, another 15 education systems also performed above the OECD average in science (485 points), ranging from Australia (507 points) to Belgium (491 points).
    • About three out of four students have achieved basic proficiency science in OECD countries.
    • In science, an OECD average of 7% of students attained the highest proficiency levels of 5 or 6. In 14 countries/economies, more than 10% of students are top performers in science.
    • Only four countries and economies improved their performance between PISA 2018 and 2022 in all three subjects: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic and Chinese Taipei.
    • Trend analysis of PISA results reveals a decades-long decline that began well before the pandemic. In science, performances peaked in 2012 and 2009, respectively, before dipping. while performance began a downward descent in mathematics before 2018 in Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Slovak Republic and Switzerland.
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    • Socio-economically advantaged students scored 93 points more in mathematics than disadvantaged students on average across OECD countries. The performance gap attributed to students' socio-economic status is greater than 93 score points in 22 countries or economies and 50 points or fewer in 13 countries or economies.
    • Boys outperformed girls in mathematics by nine score points and girls outperformed boys in reading by 24 score points on average across OECD countries. In science, the performance difference between boys and girls is not significant.
    • Non-immigrant students scored 29 points more than immigrant students in mathematics on average across OECD countries but non-immigrant students scored only five points more than immigrant students once socio-economic status and language spoken at home had been accounted for.
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    • Between 2018 and 2022 trends in students' sense of belonging at school were mixed, with equal proportions of countries/economies showing stable, improving or deteriorating trends. Of the 47 education systems with improving or stable trends, only 20 maintained or attained a level of students' sense of belonging at school that was at or above the OECD average. 
    • Around 10% of students reported feeling unsafe on their way to or from school, or in places outside of the classroom, on average across OECD countries. Some 20% of students reported that they are bullied at least a few times a month.
    • Overall, students felt more confident about using digital technology for learning remotely during future school closures than they felt about taking responsibility for their own learning. For instance, on average across OECD countries, about three out of four students reported that they feel confident or very confident about using a learning-management system, a school learning platform or a video communication program, as well as about finding learning resources online on their own.
    • Students' experience with learning at home was more positive in systems that were better prepared for remote learning. However, when learning remotely, 40% of all students reported feeling lonely and 50% of all students reported feeling anxious about schoolwork and that they fell behind in their studies; and three in ten students reported that teachers were not available when needed, on average across OECD countries. 
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    Key
    Diagram of funding flows - Korea

    Click on the coverpage to see the full OECD iLibrary version
    Key
    Country Reviews for Korea

    Note: These values should be interpreted with care since they are influenced by countries' specific contexts and trade-offs. In education, there is often no simple most- or least-efficient model. For instance, the share of private expenditure in education must be read against other measures designed to mitigate inequities, such as loans and grants; longer learning time is an opportunity to convey more and better content to students, but may hinder investments in other important areas. If you want further information on the nature of different variables, please take the time to read the analysis and contextual information, available at the website for each publication.
    All rankings for individual variables are compiled on the basis of OECD and G20 countries for which data are available. The OECD average includes only OECD countries which are listed here: http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/

    Reference years displayed in the Education GPS correspond to the most common year of reference among countries for which data is available on each variable. Data for the latest available year is preferred and some countries may have provided data refering to a more recent or late year. To know more about possible exceptions on data please click on the "Download Indicator" link on each variable. When a year of reference corresponds to a school year encompassing two years, the reference reads as follows: 2018 for school year 2017/2018.

    *TALIS averages are based on all countries participating in the TALIS survey, including partner countries and economies. This explains the difference between the OECD average and the TALIS averages. Data from the TALIS survey and Education at a Glance (EAG) may differ. See Annex E of the TALIS technical report and Annex 3 of EAG 2021 for more details about the data collections.

    B-S-J-Z (China) refers to the four PISA-participating provinces/municipalities of the People's Republic of China: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

    For additional notes, please refer to annexes in the list of links below the introductory country profile text.