I was so upset about my grade. For like a whole 10 minutes. Once the feelings of disappointment started to fade, I started to get a clearer picture of my score.
I deserved the writing score I got.
I admit it. For some reason, I was under the (very false) impression that I’d studied for the Topik so much. That’s a lie. I studied like hell for the reading, drove myself crazy studying the listening, and spent countless hours studying the grammar/vocabulary section. If I had to put it on a percentage scale. I will say 30% went to reading, 30% went to listening, 30% went to grammar/vocabulary respectively. Which means only 10% of my time went into the writing portion. I can write quite well in Korean. I haven’t written a ton of essays but the ones that I do write don’t require very many corrections. However, I will say that I did not write the intermediate essay with much of the intermediate grammar. The reason for this is because even when I write most of the intermediate essays in English, I don’t feel like the topics are ever complex enough to warrant using more advanced grammar. I’m certain that took a lot of points out of my writing score.
However, I’m still happy I wrote it the way I did. Trying to add unnecessary grammar into a writing just to make it look intermediate is silly to me. The topics I’ve seen for the new intermediate/advanced test will require a lot of advanced grammar, but “Tell me about the best day of your life?”. You could probably write that well with nothing but beginner’s grammar and 3000 word under your belt. One thing I’ve never liked is how easy the intermediate exam topics were compared to the test. On the reading portion you have topics that seem like they are torn from a newspaper, and listening tracks ripped from a news broadcast and then on the writing they ask you what you like to do and why? I can’t get with that.
If not using enough intermediate grammar and vocabulary is what lowered the grade then so be it. I would probably do it the same. I’m stubborn like that.
I’ve also had time to really look at my other scores. I did disgustingly well on the reading section. For anyone who thinks my reading score is high, let me tell you it was my weakest skill just 5 months ago. In January, when I attempted a reading test I would literally get like 40% every single time. My vocabulary was so weak. I put so much into reading. I learned probably 2000-3000 new words in 5 months. I was shocked how easy the reading felt when I took the exam at the time. I understood every single passage and answer before me. I’m actually quite curious as to which 3-4 problems I got wrong on the reading. I’ll take the test later to determine which ones I got wrong and why.
I’m also a bit surprised at the listening score. The first time I took a listening test I got 40%. It was on par with reading. Even though I live in Korea and hear Korean every day, I sucked at solving many of the problems simply because I couldn’t hear them clearly and missed little nuances and changes throughout the conversation. However, when I took the test at the time, it too felt easy. However, since I got 25 points off, I probably again missed some of the nuances in the changes of the conversation because I can’t remember one listening track I didn’t fully understand.
Grammar and vocabulary doesn’t really surprise me. If you read my blog you will know I have a love affair especially with Korean grammar. I study it so much. I memorize it and creepily know which ones can sub out for other ones. Based on my score I’m assuming I got most of the “choose the incorrect/correct” problems right. Though I am curious as to which ones I got wrong.Curse you final idiom I didn’t know! Curse you to hell!
Overall it was pretty good. Most people who study Korean have low scores in reading, listening, and writing. I overcame my struggle with two. I’m glad I started doing reading and writing videos because this will force me to put more effort into writing, though I’m sure I will always prefer reading and grammar over writing essays.
I guess it’s on to the Topik intermediate-advanced.
I finally got through to the website 3 hours after the scores apparently went live.
I guess I should happy I passed. But the fact that I barely passed level 4 really pisses me off. I finished writing early and thought I did well in that section. But a 54 percent? All my scores are good but that one sucks. It would be one thing if I knew what I did wrong, but I will NEVER know. That’s the worst part.
This has just ruined my whole day. What a disappointment. Maybe I’ll write a more positive post later when I get over myself.
First off, let me say I am typing this first sentence without even having seen my results. The reason for this is because despite being 3:03 pm here in South Korea, the Topik website is apparently overwhelmed with so many people logging in to see their score. I’ve been “checking” my score since like 9 am this morning. I wanted to see if there was some glitch in the system that accidentally made some score viewable before the allotted time.
I’ve checked 3 times today. So far, it hasn’t been possible.
So now I’ve managed to make it to the log-in area and I’ve typed in my name and password and it’s telling me it is being “encrypted” so the system is slow and to please wait a little while. I will say I am a bit disappointed by this wait as the website/server should be ready and equipped to handle such a large surge in traffic. Currently we are officially 8 minutes past the release and I have yet to actually see my score. I’m going to give it one more shot!
Now I can no longer log on to the site at all. It won’t display the page. It’s nearly 15 minutes past the release time. How utterly disappointing. They should just release the scores in waves rather than all at once. That, or get a better website and server. I am also wondering now if this is the only time this problem has occurred. I’ve not once seen anyone write about having trouble checking their scores. Everyone always made it seem so easy and hassle free. I’m going to bury my head in my Korean book and forget about it.
I guess I’ll check my score later.
I thought I had hit the jackpot because the testing area was at a school that is (technically) in my small city, however I didn’t realize until a couple of days ago that it is off the beaten path. So much that I have to take a taxi from my apartment to the campus and then walk about 7 minutes to the testing building. It cost me about 10,000 won.
I arrived at the building about 1.5 hours before the test hoping to be able to get some last minute review in. I foolishly assumed that it would be set up like any standardized test I’d taken in the US. It wasn’t. There was no one giving out information or directing anything. I looked around and I was the only Westerner there. Nearly every other people present was of East Asian or South East Asian descent. I wasn’t exactly surprised since the majority of people who would even study Korean are more than likely international students here. I heard a mixture of Chinese, Thai, Tagalog, and some Indian languages being spoken and zero English.
Through the groups of people standing around I saw a board with numbers on it. After staring at it for about 10 minutes I figured out we needed to find our ID numbers and match it to a specific classroom in which we would being taking the test. I found mine and waited. After about 40 minutes hundreds of people came pouring out from the morning exam. There were 8 doors on this building but only one was open so all (what seemed like) 800 of them came out of it. After this we were allowed to enter. We went in and found our classrooms that had lists with our names on it. The classroom sat 40 people and was quite large. I was happy when I entered because I wanted to grab a seat near the side. Then I realized our seats were assigned so I found mine and sat down.
I sat there hoping I’d see another English speaker because then I wouldn’t stand out so much. Not one came in. Not one. I wonder if any were there, still. Before the test started, I overheard quite a few people speaking their native tongues and then seamlessly switching to Korean when they needed to. Everyone seemed so well learned in Korean. “Great, I’m the only one here who doesn’t speak that well”, I thought. Being an English speaker people don’t expect you to, so despite living here, I rarely find people who try to use Korean with me.
I sat there pretty much alone until about 10 minutes before the exam when everyone else started to come in. The exam proctors came in and started passing out the fill-in sheets. We all filled in our information and with about 10 minutes to go, they came around to check that everyone was who they claimed to be. The exam booklets were passed out about 5 minutes before and I looked around the room at at least 10 people had their books open. This is also something I’m not used to. Every standardized test I’ve ever taken has been sealed shut and breaking the seal and opening the test is an automatic failure. The proctors asked everyone to refrain from solving until it was time. They waited. When the announcement came on, we started solving.
I felt the test wasn’t that bad. Right out the gate it was easier than expected. Until today, I had never taken a timed Topik test. I realized that like 5 minutes before the start and that had me worried. All too often I read about people feeling like they didn’t have a lot of time to finish. I thought I did okay on the first part of exam. There were definitely a few questions I wasn’t 100% on. After solving the first page of the grammar section I remembered to look at the writing topic. It read:
“What was the happiest day so far in your life? Why was it so happy? What happened on this day? When was it? How much did it affect you?”
“Fuck yes! I can write about my dog”, I thought. I finished up the grammar portion and realized something. Out of all that advanced grammar I learned, none of it was on the test. Okay, maybe there was one. I got the the end of the grammar section and the idioms got me. There were 2 I knew (which were not the answer) and 2 I didn’t know. So, I just guessed. On the writing section I also did much better than I thought. I got one of the ‘fill in the missing part’ problems right and the jury is still out on the other one. I made it to the essay and managed to write all the way down until the last two lines of the paper. I actually wanted to write more, but I didn’t have room so I just sucked it up and ended it. Who knew I could write so much in Korean considering I practiced essay writing the least?
Then I put my pen down expecting there to be 10 or so minutes left. There were about 35 minutes left. I finished 35 minutes early. “Um….what the hell?”, I thought to myself. I had gotten good at solving correctly and quickly while studying, but I thought I’d slow down for the actual test. Apparently not. Since I had so much time left, I went back to the fill-in problems and re-read the one I was unsure about. In the end I changed it to a more likely answer. I then re-read my essay and corrected 2 mistakes and put the pen down and waited.
Those were the longest 25 minutes of my life.
After the bell rang I went outside and had a snack. I needed to stretch my legs. I went back in about 15 minutes later and the answer sheets for the second half had already been passed out and the tape player was already set up. Even though I’ve heard “tape condition” a ton of times on the Topik listening track, I had no idea it was an actual tape. A damn cassette. It tickled me pink. I got my answer sheet, filled in my information and prepared for the test. Although I haven’t studied listening in at least 2 weeks, I did well. I even understood the final listening track which I’ve never understood. I managed to do 5 or 6 reading problems in between tracks but decided to stop that as I needed to focus on listening once I reached the 20th problem. Like other parts of the exam, the reading seemed easier than when I’d practiced. Again, I understood the final question and I’ve had that happen exactly twice on the past tests I’ve used. Half way through the reading, my study burnout started coming back. It became harder to focus and I started to get a bit of a headache. I slowed down A LOT and just rode it out. I finished with like 10 minutes left, though I would have finished sooner had my head no started to hurt.
All in all it was a good experience. Despite it not running how I’m used to, it really surprised me in the end. I can’t wait to get the results back and I’m even more excited about expanding my Korean horizons.
If you took the 34th exam, how do you think you did?
And my brain is fried. I went to the dentist yesterday to get my crown installed and seeing that it only took 10 minutes, I decided to pop into the bookstore across the street to buy Topik preparation book since I could no longer bear to re-study the same tests. The book is pictured at the top, and like the EBS book, is REALLY good. So much better than the Topik Master’s book. The tests weren’t the exact same as the exams, but they mirror them enough for you to feel like you’re practicing.
Anyway, the book has 4 exams in it. I started it this morning and have successfully made it through 1 exam. Well 3/4th of an exam. I didn’t do the listening part. I did however do quite well on the reading and the grammar portion, and feel “prepared” for the Topik tomorrow. When I tried to do the next exam, however, I just felt burned out. Like my brain just can’t take anymore studying. I was getting tired of trying to solve the problems. I was getting tired of reading all the answer choices and wondering if I selected the right one. I was just getting tired. Not tired of Korean, but tired of studying for the Topik. My brain has officially had enough.
With the Topik less than 20 hours away, I’ve decided to stop “preparing” for it. I plan on reviewing my adverbs, grammar and idioms and that’s it. The way I see it, if I’m not ready at this point, then I’m not ready for the exam. I also felt it was best to just stop overdoing it since I kind of need to be ready for the exam tomorrow. I just closed my preparation book, turned on Hulu and started watching a drama called School 2013. This is will be my listening practice for tonight and that’s it.
I’m going to ride this thing on out calmly and collectively. I thought I would be more nervous or anxious about it, but I find I am not. I’m just tired and worn out. Good luck to everyone who is still currently preparing for the exam, and to those who have taken it already. I will see you on the other side of the Topik 34.