TOPIK II Korean Exam
The Korean proficiency exam, called TOPIK, is broken up into two tests. TOPIK I is the beginner one and you can score a level 1 or level 2. TOPIK II is the intermediate/advanced exam and you can score a level 3-6.
I took TOPIK I in January of last year and while I’m glad I did it for the experience, I would recommend anyone who has seriously studied Korean to just go straight into studying for TOPIK II. For where my Korean was at the time the test was really easy. But if you’re just stating out and need a good motivation to keep studying I think TOPIK I is perfect because it’s really not too hard and will help force you to learn the vocab and grammar necessary for the reading portion.
My studying this time around though was, well it was next to nothing.
I worked on and off through books that teach you strategies for the reading and writing portions of the exam but I hadn’t been doing anything consistently until I went into cram mode about 2 weeks before the test. And in that time almost all of my studying was focused on the writing portion.
When the 18th rolled around I woke up, thankfully TOPIK II is the second test of the day so I could actually sleep in a bit, and hopped on the longest bus ride I’ve ever taken in this city. I was taking the test at Daejeon University which is completely on the other side of the city from me.
But the hour-long bus ride gave me time to look over the grammar structures I wanted to use for the writing portion and if nothing else a scenic drive.
When I got there I headed over to where I thought the correct building was and saw a big group of people all waiting to be let inside for the test. It was really cold that morning so when they finally let us in it was a relief to get out of the chilly air.
Once inside there was a list of registration numbers and corresponding classrooms to find where you would take the exam. Once you get to your classroom there is another list outside that door which shows where your seat is.
On the board in the front of the room are different posters with various information.
Once all the students had showed up the proctor took us through the lengthy explanation process and they collected all of our cell phones.
The test started exactly at 1:00.
First was the listening section. Listening is probably my best section so I didn’t feel too bad after finishing that one.
Next was writing. The writing section is composed of four questions. Two fill in the blank with the correct word or phrase, and two essay style response questions, one 200-300 characters long and the next 500-600 long. The fill in the blank ones were okay and thankfully you can get partial credit but the shorter essay is where I spent 80% of my time. This was the one I had prepared for so I was trying really hard to get it perfect. I think I did alright. I didn’t attempt the long essay because I ran out of time but that one is mostly for level 5-6 anyway.
The there was a short break where you could go to the bathroom or stretch your legs then it was back for the longest part, the reading section.
The reading was hard. Like crazy hard. I knew going into it that this would be my weakest part because of how limited my vocabulary is but I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be that hard. Usually the questions progress in difficulty as you go through them but I felt like, compared to the practice tested I had taken, they got way harder way faster than I remembered.
By the time were finished it was 4:30 and already starting to get dark.
I was feeling a little discouraged after the reading section but on the way back into town I ended up having the loveliest conversation with my taxi driver and that restored my confidence a little bit. I can always count on taxi drivers for good conversation.
When I was finally back to Dunsan it was dark and the whole day had gone.
My experience overall was pretty good. No troubles finding the testing center, nothing in the exam took me by surprise, and I was pretty pleased by the listening section. With how hard the reading was though I have absolutely no idea what kind of level I will get.
The results take forever to get back so I won’t know until late December. I’m glad I did it though and I’m excited to study for the next one now knowing what I need to focus on.
If anyone else out there is studying for TOPIK good luck!
Thanks for reading!