It’s the mandatory TOPIK experience post again! It’s a 3-hour exam but in reality, we have to spend about 4 hours at the exam venue and adding the commute time etc, it’s like my whole day is gone. I’m now typing this at about 930pm, 5.5 hours after the exam. In between, I spent about 3 hours on the sofa. I am this tired lol.
It’s my nth time taking TOPIK (lost count) and this is also my second TOPIK since COVID started. I last took it in Apr 2020. It feels weird that the pandemic is in its third year, and that we have to take the ART test, fill in a declaration form etc to take the exam.
I think there were lesser people taking TOPIK II this time round, compared to two years ago. No, it’s not that Korean is losing popularity in Singapore or whatsoever. My friend and I suspect that it’s because the test fees, which used to be SGD80 for the longest time, became SGD120. I don’t know if it’s a pandemic increase, or inflation or whatever, but omg I don’t know whether I want to spend SGD120 every two years taking a proficiency test that I personally don’t have much need for. My friend also conveniently reminded me that after a few more TOPIK exams and we’ll hit our forties. Maybe one day I’ll be taking TOPIK as a granny, and I think that’s pretty cool. My first TOPIK was in 2009 and I wonder when my last TOPIK will be . . . okay I digressed.
For those taking TOPIK II in Singapore, I recommend signing up for the exam early enough (they fill the big hall first and then the classrooms), and I prefer being in the hall cos it’s just airier and more space. It’s best to dress light (because outside damn hot please) and bring a jacket to the venue. I always bring a hoodie, which is great because the aircon was blowing directly at me (-.-) throughout the exam and I’m one of those people who hate that and I get a headache very easily. So the hoodie helped a lot!
We also have to surrender our electronic devices, so it’s best to follow the instructions and bring minimal electronic devices and leave the smartwatches at home for the day if possible.
We’re expected to be seated quite early (which I understand), but I got very restless and sleepy in the time that we had to sit there (without devices hahaha), so by the time listening started, my mind was pretty out of it. My concentration level is definitely not at its peak like 10 years ago lol.
Listening used to be a brain-cracking section as I had to concentrate a lot on the audio, as well as read through the options, but hahah this is my 14th year of learning Korean. What I do is that usually I read the options for the questions ahead. For the earlier questions where each audio is played once, I can possibly read about 4-5 questions ahead, but for those questions at the back where the audio is played twice, I could read about 7-8 questions ahead.
What I like to do is to underline the key parts in the options, so I know where to zoom in when the audio plays. I usually will only listen to the audio once, then when it plays for the second time, I’ll be reading the questions ahead! For those familiar with the exam format, you would know that for the later questions where an audio passage is linked to two questions, one is usually on “which statement is true / best described what the audio is about” and the other one about the attitude / feelings of one of the speakers. The first type of question is harder, so usually I’ll concentrate on the options / details for this question as the audio plays and I’ll answer this one first (even if it’s the second question). Then it’s easier to do the other question, which is more broad.
My problem these days with the listening section is that I have a very short attention span and there were really moments during the test where I literally just spaced out hahaha. Exams are a test of stamina, not just knowledge.
And I have no stamina.
Writing follows listening immediately and I was sooo glad when the listening was over. I shall not jinx it but dare I say that this was pretty manageable, a lot better than the two-years-ago paper? mmm can I just pretend that I miraculously got better at writing? hahaha. I guess we’re not supposed to share the question here, so I won’t (anyway I can’t remember exactly), but my problem was thinking about the points rather than expressing them in Korean oops. The essay question is usually about some social issue and it’s kinda like an expository essay.
I think I did fine for the the graph description writing. I think?
I finished the writing with about 15 mins to spare, and I managed to write neatly yay! A huge difference from my earlier TOPIK experiences, where writing killed me all.the.time. hahaha like I said, it’s been 14 years.
I don’t really have writing tips, just that the graph description write up can be very manageable when you read enough sample answers and also remember set phrases. So it’s possible to study for it. The essay is a better test of your core proficiency I think, and harder to “study”. I mean, you can technically study and memorize for anything, but I prefer to keep it organic (?) in some sense. Which means I am highly unlikely to study specifically for an exam. But that’s just me, and I also don’t face the pressure of needing to pass the language exams I take 🙂
Reading is always my favourite section in a language proficiency test and I always look forward to learning more from the passages and getting to know more interesting facts! It’s also the section where I *kinda* have expectations for myself and I hope to get a three-digit score HAHAHA. We’ll see. 🙂
Again, not many tips for reading, just that it’s important to read a lot during your free time and build the stamina of being able to read for 70 mins straight hahaha. I used to feel my brain energy fading away towards the end of the exam (where I can sound all the syllables and not understand a single thing) but that has gotten a lot better in the last few years!
So I had a lot of fun with this part hahaha.
Overall, it was great. Although sitting for 3 hours in an exam hall is not quite something that my poor bones can take. I have to rethink whether I want to take it every two years (it is valid for two years), and the cost really deters me.
If you have also taken the 81st TOPIK, please leave a comment and say hiiii.
I think the results will be out on May 19. So I’ll probably update on May 20 LOL. It’s impossible these days to check the results on the dot, cos the system keeps crashing and literally you have to camp to get into the system (like those concert tickets queue system) hahahaha. Sorry I’m too embarrassed to ask my friends to do that for me (Mac comps still have issues with accessing the system) and I’ll probably be too lazy to do it too, even if I could.
Till the next post! (sorry my blog reflects my mental state and these days I’m very much offline)