17 In Korean learning journey (:

Reflections on 26th Advanced (고급) TOPIK

Nearly after 3 years, I finally decided to try for TOPIK advanced this time. We had to reach there by 8.10 for the beginners / advanced paper. Upon alighting from the shuttle bus, we were greeted by the staff who gave us each a note of encouragement and a choco pie! Which was really thoughtful of them. (until I flipped the note and saw that it was promoting the Korean language courses in SKS lol ㅋㅋㅋㅋ) It appears that they have added Master 1 & 2 courses on top of their advanced courses. I wonder if the master courses are equivalent to a Yonsei Level 6 course or not. Any one who has taken it? ^^

The new Korean school is absolutely beautiful and on many levels, reminds me of Korea a lot. Saw a few friends (:

The beginner test was held in a hall and the setting reminds me of school examinations. The advanced paper was held in a classroom and omg I love the classroom!! It was really comfortable and we were asked to put our bags in the next room (from inside the classroom)  – which is like a meeting room of sorts and also nice sofas and a large bookcases. These books look interesting! The meeting room itself can also lead to another room – which looks like a staff office. Interesting layout.

The other examinees came streaming in and they were all speaking FLUENT KOREAN. And I realized that I’m going to take a Korean proficiency tests with a bunch of Koreans -.- I think there may be ‘true gyopos’ in the group but some looked like they are Koreans who perhaps come over in middle or high school…. -.- There were 16 of us and only two (including me) were Singaporeans. One of the Koreans was a lady who looked like one of the glamorous Korean ladies from the dramas. I like her style! Interesting group of examinees. xD

[Okay I hope that none of them reads this entry…]

We started with the writing and vocabulary/grammar section. It’s unsettling to take TOPIK with Koreans. They were all flipping their pages so fast. I’m used to being one of the fastest (or at least keep up with the average speed) and the feeling that I’m very slow is unsettling. But I was too engrossed in the paper to care after awhile. While I was doing the paper, only one thought was in my mind. I was very unprepared.

The writing section was a disaster. The 3 short answer questions were terrible (I wrote rubbish) and I basically felt like a primary school kid writing an argumentative essay. Needless to say, it turned out really crappy.

During the break, the Korean guys were saying how this was one of the easiest paper ever. ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ They were saying how it can’t be compared to the 수능시험 standard and during their 국어 paper, they had to answer questions like what’s the difference between 기역 (ㄱ) and 니은 and when did King Sejong invented the 한글 etc etc. hahaha. Sorry I eavesdropped. ㅋㅋ I haven’t heard so much spoken Korean for a long long while~ happy to be surrounded by Korean students.

And something quite funny happened before the 2nd paper. We were marking our names and ID number on the OMR sheet and there was a part where it states 결시 and there was an option to mark it. Some of the Koreans marked it and then they asked if it should be marked or not. The invigilators were kinda surprised and they had to change the OMR sheet for the students. ㅎㅎ In case you didn’t get it, 결시 means and it means that the person was absent for the test LOL. And one of the invigilators was like ‘아~ 결시는 그렇게 어려운 한자인 줄 몰랐어’ or something along that lines. I’m glad at least I knew what it means lol.

Listening was… mmm. Not too good. If you have been doing TOPIK practice papers, you would realize that the number of answers for each option is always around 7 to 8 in each section. Means that there will be around 7 to 8 As, Bs, Cs, Ds for each section. And looking at my OMR sheet, I have a suspiciously high number of As and Ds.

After the listening, we were left with about 45 mins or so to complete 30 questions of reading component. Speed reading is required. It started quite well (reading was always my strongest component) but towards the last few passages, my brain was simply seeing Korean as a bunch of gibberish. There was one particularly tough passage. Can’t wait for the paper to be released so that I can look at it again.

Most of the Koreans finished really quickly and they were all yawning and restless. LOL. Some of them left early. When the invigilators came over to collect the papers, they collected the OMR pen too. hahaha. I wanted to keep the pen so I pretended that I didn’t know they were collecting it. HAHAHA. Sorry, I love memory keepsakes.

The top one was from 2009!

We finished earlier than the beginners group, probably caused it was a lot easier to collect our papers. Decided not to wait for the shuttle bus and walked out. Enjoyed the walk. The school is in the midst of one of the most expensive landed property areas in Singapore and the houses there are HUGE. Mansions, villas.. whatever you call them. Some of the houses are ridiculously huge. I don’t ever think I’ll have a chance to visit one of them, much less live in one. But I really want to visit such a house and see how it’s like. During the shuttle bus ride into the school, we passed by this house that looked like it came straight out of a magazine. In terms of the exterior, interior design etc. The bedroom was minimalistic and it really looked like a photoshoot!! I mean, I understand that people have houses that look really awesome, but how can your bedroom be so.. minimal and perfectly neat. Doesn’t feel like it’s being lived in.. if you know what I mean. Not a single thing out of place. Strange.

Okay, I digressed. Not looking forward to blogging about my results. But I promise that I’ll be super honest and show you guys my scores – like what I did last time. hehe even if I ended up failing every component ^^

How was the paper for you?



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  • Reply
    15 April, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    This reminded me of when I took my beginner TOPIK last year hehehe. It felt like the O Level days! The advanced level doesn’t sound too appealing for me after reading your experience that most of them are Koreans (what?!) hhahaa…

    Have I read anywhere that you prefer yonsei books than kyunghee’s? I’m going to Korea this year again so I feel like grabbing some books back ^^ Can you roughly guide me through which are more suitable for intermediate ~ advance level? Is it book vol 3 onwards? I’m currently in SKIS advance level but we’re still using KU’s intermediate book. Which is why I dare not go ahead with taking TOPIK intermediate yet.

    • Reply
      15 April, 2012 at 7:00 PM

      ahhh. KU intermediate 4 will be good enough for TOPIK intermediate i think. Mm i like yonsei’s books better. I think you can go with level 4 and above. I think that Yonsei’s books are slightly higher level than KU so you wont go wrong with that. but before you buy it, just check whether it’s the right level for you (:
      Best to get a grammar dictionary while you are at it. I have previously recommended a grammar dictionary (in korean) that i used.

  • Reply
    Jan E
    15 April, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    Hey can i ask which book store in Korea did you purchase the korean grammar for international learners?

    • Reply
      15 April, 2012 at 10:18 PM

      you can get it at any bookstore. Try kyobo at gwanghwamun or the big one in COEX.

  • Reply
    16 April, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    I took the 중급 test yesterday in Korea… for the most part I felt like I would get a 4급 but I didn’t plan ahead and ran out of time when I was writing my short answers… the proctor just yanked the test out of my hand. ㅠㅠ And after the listening, we only had 45 min. to answer 30 questions on the reading… I realized that I need to work on my reading speed and memory recall. I was reading some of them 3 or 4 times because there were so many new 단어 that I didn’t know what in the world they were trying to say.

    I also took the 사회 통합 평가 시험 on Saturday so I can enter a course to change my visa to residency status. That was interesting because It was a room full of immigrant wives from Southeast asian countries, and me. I’d taken a standardized test before in Korea, but the at that test, the proctors were really condescending, and had to constantly move around the room, helping people. And they didn’t know that you aren’t supposed to talk to other test-takers during an exam, and the proctors kept having to tell people to be quiet… it was quite the interesting experience.

    The written exam was pretty much a mini TOPIK, starting with a desk and “이 것 무엇입니까?” building up to full 고급 questions in order until the last question (40)). After that part, we moved in groups of 5 to a room for the interview, there they asked us to read a short passage about a girl, and asked us a question or two about what we read(everyone read the same passage). Then, they told us to introduce ourselves, and asked a few random questions(depending on your perceived skill)… to me they asked what I thought of the price of goods in Korea. To the girl on the end, they asked her what country she is from.

    That’s the last time I take two tests in two days…

    • Reply
      16 April, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      I always think that the short answers were the most difficult questions out of the whole paper. I wrote rubbish and I was pretty sure they were all wrong. D:

      wow I’m interested in the 사회 통합 평가 시험. Heard of a few friends taking it but they never told me much details. hehe would love to have a chance to take it next time lol. So the written exam is basically open ended questions?

      The interview seems quite interesting. I wonder if having a group interview will increase the anxiety level for some. And the questions were… kinda random O.o

  • Reply
    16 April, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    Hey~ 😛 We don’t really know each other, but I read your blog often, and I also was the one who was asking you about the cell phone in Korea, so I figured there is no one else to share my experience with! 😛
    I took mine yesterday in Toronto! 😛 It was my first test, aiming for Beginner B and, hopefully, did well! >< After I finished the test-my head felt like somebody was hitting it with something heavy for 3 hours…I don't think I am ever that concentrated on my university exams, lol.

    The test overall seemed fine, I felt unsure about reading, though. For me, it's actually the hardest, because I know little vocabulary in comparison to grammar. ==

    One awkward thing though was people I was writing it with. The thing is we have a lot (like A HELL LOT) of koreans in Toronto, but because I always hang out with international korean students who are here just for year or less, I never really paid attention that we have that many second generation Koreans. And pretty much 96% of people taking the test were second generation Koreans. The awkward thing was…they were all 7-8 years old. == So their parents sort of try to make their kids learn the language and take the test.
    In the classroom there was only one more foreginer, and even he was much older than me, so both of us looked quiet awkward…two adults sitting among children.

    ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ but still, it was a good experience and hopefully i passed. i'm dying to get my score.
    and i also kept the pen! 😛 realized it after saw your picture. ㅋㅋㅋ gonna keep it for the future! 😛 hopefully all of us won't have more than 3-4 of those in the end 😛

    • Reply
      16 April, 2012 at 3:10 PM

      ㅎㅎㅎ wow that’s an interesting experience, and very different! Pretty weird to take an examination with kids, at least the koreans in my room looked high-schoolish. I guess Korean is still not very popular as a foreign language in Toronto ^^ Most of the people who took beginners in Singapore are foreigners. Even in past TOPIK exams, i think the koreans only took the advanced paper.

      I can’t wait to see my results too (good or bad)

      let’s hope for 3 pens in our collection 😛

  • Reply
    16 April, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    I took the 초급 exam on Saturday and all the sections went pretty well except for the reading… 생각 보다 좀 어려웠어요… Lack of 단어 I guess… I’m hoping to pass as a Level 2 fingers crossed…

    The exam was at 9am in Abu Dhabi which is a 2 hr drive from my place so I had to wake up absurdly early… Good thing too because I got lost on the way… 😛 It’s the first time they were offering the test in UAE so I had no idea how many people to expect… There were around 60+ students and some of them had actually flown in all the way from Qatar! That’s what I call dedication… 🙂 Any idea when the scores come out?

    • Reply
      16 April, 2012 at 8:59 PM

      wow it’s awesome that they are offering it in UAE. 60 plus is actually quite a lot (: Hope you will pass!! The results will be released June 4, 3pm KST on their official website (you have to login with your ID number etc)

      • Reply
        16 April, 2012 at 9:06 PM

        June 4th… Thanks! 😀

  • Reply
    16 April, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    Wow, sounds tough… Hmm but I’m interested in taking the Intermediate TOPIK in the near future. I shall do research and start preparing! 😀 Learned a new term from this post today: 교포. Haha thanks!

    • Reply
      16 April, 2012 at 9:00 PM

      Try the one in october! 😀 it’s an interesting experience.

      • Reply
        18 April, 2012 at 7:05 PM

        Yeah seriously considering it! All this buzz about TOPIK on your blog and on fb finally spurred me to try my first Beginner paper today. Quite fun 😀

  • Reply
    16 April, 2012 at 11:01 PM

    In the U.S., pretty much everyone taking the TOPIK at any level is 2nd generation Korean. The Korean Wave has pretty much only caught on among Korean-Americans. Most Americans really aren’t familiar with popular Korean culture, much less trying to learn the language. Yeah, it is intimidating sitting for an exam in a language that your fellow test-takers grew up speaking.

  • Reply
    13 July, 2014 at 1:06 AM

    I love collecting the OMR pens too. I’m happy that they have changed the OMR pen. The new OMR pen has two nibs which are the thick one and the thin one. It will be more convenient for us to mark the answers and write the essays.

    • Reply
      14 July, 2014 at 8:04 PM

      TIME TO TAKE TOPIK AGAIN hahahaha xD I prefer writing the essay with a normal pen though

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