I missed seeing the news report on the new and upcoming TOPIK changes in 2014 so I’m kinda late. But I still want to offer my two cents on it.
1. Intermediate and advanced paper combined
This means that instead of 3 papers spanning 6 levels, you get 2 papers spanning 6 levels. Beginner paper will be level 1 – 2 as per normal, and the intermediate/advanced paper will cover level 3 – 6 from now on.
2. Removal of 어휘/문법 section
Originally there were 4 sections in each paper. But with the removal of the vocabulary and grammar section, we are left with Reading, listening and writing. Which in some sense, is easier as it corresponds with the major categories in language learning. The vocabulary and grammar section will be fused into the 3 remaining categories.
3. No more MCQs in writing section
Yeah. Now you just write.
4. Removal of writing section for beginner paper
The writing section is thought to be difficult for beginners, so you are just left with reading and listening.
5. Increase test taking to 6 times a year
For Korea at least. Originally it was 4 times a year (months 1, 4, 7, 10), now I wonder where they will slot in the 2 new test dates.
The changes are likely to be enforced from the later half of 2014.
Mmm had time to digest the information?
Now for my two cents.
To be honest, I’m very very skeptical about all the changes. Maybe sans point 3, but that will also depend on a whole load of factors too.
Overall, it depends on how you view the TOPIK test. For me, I want it to be a stringent test of proficiency in Korean, especially in the intermediate and advanced levels. I want it to have value, in that scoring well in the TOPIK can allude (somewhat) to your proficiency and I want the high levels to be difficult to attain, challenging. I don’t want it to be just a useless piece of certification which is easy to get.
Now for my thoughts for each change. It’s hard to comment when I haven’t seen the actual new paper. But let’s just throw in some assumptions and move on ok?
I don’t like it. Well. It depends, like I said, on how the paper is actually going to be like. For now, I assume that all the test takers will complete the exact same questions. Does that mean the intermediate/advanced test takers will write the same essays? If so, how are they going to grade them and separate the levels? The level of vocabulary? The use of “difficult grammar points”?
By combing two levels, you are making it harder to differentiate and I seriously think that’s the whole point of the exam. Differentiating the beginner from the intermediate from the advanced.
To be honest, I quite like the huge jump between the 3 different papers. With two papers now meshed together, is the jump going to be HUGE across the 2 papers? If not, will the advanced level become easier?
Meshing the levels reminds me of KLPT, where everyone takes a single test and then depending on your score, you are divided into 6 levels. That was how I could have gotten a level 5 just one year into learning Korean (the same time I got my TOPIK level 4). I totally feel that the level 5 was unjustified and too easy to get. Making it useless in my opinion. That was why TOPIK is thought to be a more stringent and difficult test compared to KLPT.
If done well, I think it’s a good move. Although this will mean finding more creative and effective methods of testing grammar and vocabulary knowledge in other sections, possibly raising the difficulty level of the rest of the sections. Can be a good or bad move, depending on how it’s carried out.
I welcome this. But that means they should have more types of writing questions. Not just the essay. More of those killer fill-in-the-blank questions?
I always thought that the beginner TOPIK was a waste of money. That’s why I took intermediate right from the start. I know the argument is that by making it easier, it will encourage more Korean learners to take the test. Maybe, but to me, it just made the test more useless. I won’t even be happy if I get a average 99 mark on it, knowing that my writing ability is not even tested. And that’s usually the most challenging part for a beginner.
A possibly good move. Since TOPIK is so important to foreigners living in Korea. Increasing test dates means they are less stressed, since they can try again in just a month or so and not let their school / job applications screw up just because they can’t get the certification.
Like I said, these are all opinions based on the (lack of) information given. To be fair, we all haven’t seen the real paper and it’s really hard to judge. I may revise my opinions later on, but this is what I feel for now.
What are your thoughts?