korean language

My experience taking the Topik I exam

A few days ago I have taken the Topik I exam for the first time in my life.At first I was reluctant to the thought of taking it partly because I was influenced by my classmates who chose not to take it just because it would mean too much of a trouble as well as a loss of time and who chose to just wait one more year(which is our last academic year) and then take the Topik II exam. That’s because if we take the level 4 on the last year of university we have the option to do our master’s degree in Korea.

In class we have studied from a book which covers the grammar points of only level 1 and maybe half of level 2,but which is really poor on the vocabulary side. In the last few days before the topik I did two practice tests ( I know they are few but I didn’t have much time because of an interview I had to take ) just to see my results,but as I expected they were relatively easy for me to understand. I would usually finish the reading section in about 40 minutes and still have 20 more minutes left to verify my answers.

However,on the day of the exam I was a bit nervous and even though I felt that the listening part was easy,when I got to the last few exercises from the reading part I realized the multitude of the words I didn’t know. Usually I can comprehend the overall meaning of the entire text despite not knowing some of the words and can easily resolve the questions using logic but not in this case. I had 4 more texts when the teacher told us that there are only 10 minutes left. Of course,everything was hectic in those last 20 or so minutes because the teachers started whispering in Korean and talking about the gas revision in our school,everyone was flipping through the pages trying to get everything right,there was so much background noise that I could barely concentrate. You may think that I’m imagining or that I am making excuses but I can tell you that wasn’t the case. The fact that we couldn’t approximate the needed time to resolve all the questions,the noise and the overall stress made a huge impact on our performance.

I am impatiently waiting for the results and I truly hope I took the level 2 meaning that I don’t have to the this semester’s Korean exam anymore as we just get an A+ based on our outcome.

Before I end this blog post I want to say a few tips for the future Topik I exam takers :

  • do many practice exams before taking the actual one
  • after you do each exam make flashcards using the unknown words because they will definitely come in the next exams
  • don’t skip the listening part ( this is not a joke I know people who just use the listening transcript )
  • make good use of the listening transcripts too in order to  learn the new words
  • try using the stopwatch to simulate the actual exam – this is maybe the most important part and unless you want to rush the reading part,don’t do it !!
  • when taking the practice exams use the answer sheets as well ( maybe it’s just me but this would have helped me tremendously in the actual exam regarding my timing at the reading part; some people thought that the examiners would give you time at the end of the exam to complete this sheet and were shocked to find out that they should have done this in the time given)

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