First TOPIK test: done!

The night before the TOPIK I slept really badly and kept waking up because I was afraid of being late. And yet that’s what almost happened!

At 5:30 I just got up, got ready, and went to my brother’s place for breakfast.
I left so that I would have a good half hour to wait at SOAS in case of transportation problems. That turned out to be a good idea, because somehow I confused the address (even though I have been there last year) and ended up on the wrong campus! Cue rushing to the right address in a taxi (on the verge of tears) while a concerned driver was telling me to just take it easy since he would make sure I got there on time, adding that I shouldn’t be too stressed out before an exam or I wouldn’t do well. I am so grateful to that man!

In any case, I made it there. On time! Though not looking or feeling as relaxed as I had hoped.

The exam
Part 1:
The exam wasn’t as difficult as I had feared. There were some questions that I was a bit unsure of, but all in all I had a good gut feeling. I tried to vary my essay by including different grammar points such as -는데, 네요, 위 해서, and -(으)ㄹ수록. Let’s see if the people scoring it will like it or if I just came across as seriously confused…

The essay question this year was different from the other years. Basically there were three questions, and they were much broader than they have been previously. First they asked what we work with, then what we like to do – which I connected to the work question – and lastly why we are learning Korean.

Part 2:
Listening… Before the exam I didn’t do a single TOPIK listening exercise because it just never fit into my schedule! I’ve listened to plenty of dictations, audio books, and so on over the past year, but I hadn’t tried the TOPIK listening test format. In hindsight that wasn’t too smart, but it was not as bad as I had feared – although I did have a brief moment of panic when we got to the questions based on a longer discussion and each discussion covers several questions.
I can only hope for the best, I cannot change it now anyway.
The reading section was not as bad as I had feared. From my experience going over the past tests, reading was a hit or miss section for me. Either I understood most or there would be many questions where I really struggled. In this year’s exam, there were a few questions that I was really in doubt of and many that did not seem too difficult. I had about 20 min at the end of the exam to go over those that were causing me trouble, which was nice. Of course that doesn’t compare to the guy who finished so early that he found time to take a nap for the rest of the exam 😀

Overall impression
Aside for almost running late, it was a good experience and I’m definitely determined to sit the following levels. I was in doubt of a few questions, but of course that is no guarantee that everything else is correct so I’m awaiting the scores before opening the champagne.

One thing I would do differently next time is to write the essay with -ㅂ니다 endings rather than -요, but in the exam I felt much more comfortable with the latter so I went with that to avoid making too many mistakes simply because of differences in conjugations. There were already enough opportunities to write something wrong as it was…

After the exam
I met Matt at the test and it turned out he has been following the blog – though mostly for the count-down function it seems hahaha 😀
We went out for lunch at a Korean cafe called Bibimbab Cafe where his half-Danish friend joined us for a talk about languages and other stuff. (I got two bottles of soju to go for only £10!)

After lunch we went shopping for Korean books in Foyles (click here to be directed to the website and here for the details in the book section on this blog). I bought an intermediate reader about Korean language and culture, which I will introduce more thoroughly in an upcoming review 🙂

After that we went out for cocktails and then went out to yet another Korean restaurant – Naru – before ending up in a pub in Covent Garden.

After that I thought it was time to call it a night while Matt and his friend continued.

Thank you so much for introducing me to the book shop and some places I had never been to before in London, Matt 😀

I’m crossing fingers and toes for everybody’s scores! 화이팅!

Did you sit the TOPIK? Which level did you take and how did you think it went?


16 thoughts on “First TOPIK test: done!

  1. Peter

    Sounds successful! I’m studying for the TOPIK while in Korea now… only started really STUDYING Korean near the beginning of the year, and made the decision to write the Topic in July here. I’m excited and nervous. I try to write an Essay every week, but it is so time consuming and definitely the hardest part for me. I also have no listening built into my study practice with I need to remedy. any suggestions?

    1. koreanlearner Post author

      Thanks 🙂 I cannot wait to see the score 🙂
      Wow, good luck! I think it’s a really good routine to write an essay every week. In the beginning it takes aaaages to write anything, but it gets better 🙂 I wrote a ridiculous number of essays (35 since October 2012) before sitting the TOPIK though not all of them were TOPIK length because of lack of time. But as long as you write *something* it will help you apply the grammar and increase your vocabolary.
      About listening, I think that listening to the TTMIK lessons (I tend to listen to the same couple of podcasts over a couple of days before moving on), the dictations on Harukorean, and maybe a basic audiobook like those from TTMIK will be a great help. If you have books such as the Sogang books, there are listening exercises for every chapter and all the dialogues are also recorded so you can also hear them.
      One thing I would have done differently for my test is to practice the format for the listening section more carefully. Before sitting the next TOPIK I will make sure to prioritise finding a place where I can sit and listen to audio for the entire section (without earphones) without being disturbed/disturbing others. At the test you never know how far from the cassette player you will be seated (seriously, they use cassettes) so being used to having the sound literally in your ears could be counterproductive.
      Watching Korean programmes with subtitles and looking up new words that you catch can also be very helpful 🙂 I’ve been sitting with my dictionary next to me and paused the episode to look up whenever there was a recurring word that I wanted to know.

      1. 최다해 gongjumonica

        I am sure that soon, you will be a fluent Korean speaker. Oh, how I envy you! I also do self-study, but with reading, blogging, writing, and working, I feel lazy studying. Good thing I have tons of Korean friends here who help me practice conversationally.

        By the way, I have a current giveaway featuring free clothes. It is open internationally and two winners will be drawn. You can find Korean-inspired clothing in there and I’ll be glad if you’ll join 🙂

      2. koreanlearner Post author

        I still have a looong way to go until I’m fluent, but I’m working on it! 😀
        Yes, studying Korean on the side takes a lot of energy and planning. I really need to plan my time as well or something will end up being neglected.
        Hehe, having Korean friends help a LOT!

        Uuh, nice 🙂 thank you for the heads up, will check it out straight away 😀

  2. seoulinme

    Yay! Congrats 🙂 crossing my fingers you have super duper great scores 🙂 must have been a little nerve racking to take it since its your first one (I think? Am I right?) but I’m pretty sure you passed 🙂 I wish I could take it …but…:( it’s not offered here T________T

    1. koreanlearner Post author

      Yes, this was the first so it was very exciting 🙂
      I also had to fly to London to take it since it is not offered where I live. But it’s only a two hour flight and I could combine it with visiting family so it wasn’t too bad in that sense. I wouldn’t fly to another continent or something like that, though, so I understand you. If you happen to know some other Korean learners where you live, maybe you can convince the embassy to have a test?

      1. seoulinme

        Sounds like it was!
        And actually I was considering taking it in London because next year my cousin is getting married and it’s the perfect excuse to say “since I’m here already …why not let me take the TOPIK” but I am not 100% certain of the timing issue 😦 but I would actually fly to another continent to take it because it’s a measure of how much I know ~ since we self study sometimes maybe we miss a few weak points ^_^ and to be honest I have tried to look for Korean learners where I live and there seems to be NONE everyone around here learns French or German!! So I’m pretty much alone around here 😦 which is why last year when I started looking online for Korean learners I was seriously shocked out of my mind…but maybe I can try my hardest to convince the embassy that I love Korean that much ~ ㅋㅋㅋ

      2. koreanlearner Post author

        Heeee! Let me know if you do go to London! If you can combine it with a family visit that would be great 🙂 but it does require your cousin to actually get married in a TOPIK weekend and most people get married on Saturdays which is also when the exam is held in Europe…

        You’re right, it’s a good way to identify what is missing when we self-study. When we are put under pressure and cannot look up, that’s when we see what we need to improve. But it’s also a slightly expensive way to do it… Enjoyable but expensive if we need to go to London (or some other place) do it 🙂

        화이팅! There may not be many of us learners out there yet, but then we have an edge compared to all the others who all speaking the same two languages 😉

  3. Korean Vitamin

    You didn’t read the guide for writing the essay part? For intermediate (400-600 letter essay) and advanced level (700-800 letter essay), if you use -습니다 or -어요 for sentence ending you will get points deducted. -습니다 or -어요 is only OK for basic level. But I would not know for sure so you should check it for yourself. Anyway, congratulation for taking the test and thank you for sharing the experience.

    1. koreanlearner Post author

      I only did the beginner test this weekend 🙂 I hope they will not be too harsh on me then. I wrote about 250 syllables (requirement is 150-300) and then tried to spice it up with some “interesting” grammar – for a basic essay at least 🙂

  4. sweetangel

    Wow!!! Your first experience with Topik is so interesting. I really admire when you have to fly to London to take the Topik Exam. I believe that you will get good results because I see you really work hard through your blog . ^^
    Have you checked the answer keys on the Topik website?

    1. koreanlearner Post author

      Thanks for the encouraging words 🙂 fingers crossed!
      No, I haven’t checked the answer keys yet – I’m afraid that I will start finding a lot of mistakes and then I will spend all of May being all freaked out about the scores.

  5. hana1220

    I got excited for the October TOPIK after reading your experience.It’ll take me 3 hours by bus to get to the Korean Embassy here in my country.But that must not stop me from taking the exam.However ,the problem is getting the application form

    1. koreanlearner Post author

      Wow, three hours is a lot! At least I could take the plane the day before and split up the time spent on transportation 🙂
      I am sure that if you write to ask the embassy about how to sign up when we get a bit closer to the next test, they will at least direct you to the right people if they cannot give you the answer straight away 🙂 in my experience they answer questions very quickly and are very helpful.


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