Yes I seem to be a trailblazer when it comes to the Topik test in chicagoland area. A few years ago on my first attempt at taking the Topik exam I was the only adult sitting in a classroom filled with kids. They were loud,young and I seemed to be so old at the time being the only adult taking the Topik exam.
Today there were a total of 5 adults in the room where I took the exam along with 3 girls that were somewhere in the teenage years and only 2 ‘kids’. Wow what a difference. It was not expected as I thought I would be the only non-korean there but it was nice seeing a few other adults taking the exam.
So some points I wanted to note while still in my memory to record any things I will have to work on in the future.
- So this was the first time taking the topik exam for me since the new format was laid out I believe it was in 2014 or 2015. There was no written part this time.
- They said you had to be there at 9:10 and the listening test would begin at 9:40am. I left my phone in my vehicle but others had to hand their phones to the teacher running the exams. I messed up on entering my registration number on the exam form and had to ask for white out and then had to ask them how to use the little white out device they gave me. Funny I started off on such a good footing!
- Exam starts on time at 9:40 and it was a good start. I actually thought after the first 10 questions I have this down and will pass no problem. Once we started to get to the longer parts of the listening test it was beginning to get harder. One point would be they asked that you write your answers on the test booklet and not the ‘exam’ sheet so if there was any mistakes you didn’t have to ask for that white out device. Later after the listening test you were to go back and fill in the exam sheet. This I will have to look at next time because you didn’t get any time after the listening test to fill it in. They immediately went to the written test and I would spend the last 5 minutes of the whole exam filling in the answers from the listening section.
- I think I would have been better just filling in the answers for maybe the first 20 questions to save time in the back end of the exam. Once we got to around question 25 or so it turned out that they were actually on question 29!!!!! The one teacher told one of the younger boys we were on question 29 and that meant you had to turn to the next page. The little girl in front of me then also turned the page with the adult next to her doing the same thing. I had too also and was like what the heck just happened here!!! Half the class had messed up and we were on question as far back as 3 to 4 questions then where we actually were. I spent a bit too much time trying to figure out what just happened but wanted to record this down so in practicing for the exam next time I have a better understanding of what happened and don’t make the same mistake again. I wasn’t the only one who made the mistake but basically that meant I took guesses at say the last 4 to 6 questions. That was not good!
- No time after the listening test so we go write into the written test at 10:20am. So that leaves one hour with the test finishing at 11:20am. Again the first 10 questions or so of the written test were easy. Then you start to get into the ‘paragraph’ long written questions. And also the section where you had to pick the answer that was incorrect out of all the other answers which were correct. This slowed me down ALOT!!! I have to work on this. Time management is so important for this section as I hit the 11:00 am mark and still had so much to do. Each one of these questions was taking alot out of me and I wanted to finish at 11:15 to then go back and fill in all the answers to the listening test.
- Distractions were a problem after 11:00am. I think the little girl in front of me either gave up or was really good and finished early. The 2 teachers in the room came around and examined our id and registration number during this. The person to my left finished ‘early’. Outside they had a bunch of kids doing some exercise and were very loud. Concentration during this was becoming a big problem for me.
- I felt the pressure and my back started hurting. Once I saw the clock go past 11:10 I was like ok I’m in trouble. These are taking too long. I basically took my best guesses on at least the last 6 questions. Then at 11:15 I filled out the listening section.
- I happened to be oncall at work during this test but was able to get a team mate to cover for me for the 3 hours of the test. Funny but it was the worst time to have my oncall rotation at work on the same weekend as the Topik test.
- I feel without knowing the results of this test which will take about a month to get the results that I did better on my very first Topik exam than this one. The written questions was a harder section in my opinion than the listening section which I consider my listening to be a weaker point than reading.
- Work still needs to be done. I should be able to pass this Topik level by now and I even worked with Darakwon book ‘Topik Master’ which lays out previous exams in the exact same layout as today’s test. The time management of the written test though was a big player in today’s exam and something I will have to work on in the future. When taking the practice tests I did not hold myself to a time table when doing so even though I did well enough to pass the exams during this ‘practice’ when doing it under the actual clock I feel I barely got through the last half of the written test without just guessing alot. Needs alot of attention on this point.
I am so glad I did everything today to at least get back on the horse so to speak and take the exam. Going through all the motions and what I feel I will come back next year alot stronger. Even if I somehow passed this year I am still going to try to take the Topik every year till I pass the last one. If next year is 3 and 4 that’s cool but if I have to conquer 1 and 2 next year because I fell short this year I will do it.