The cherry on top of a fantastic year. I got my TOPIK Level 4 certificate on my 3rd year of self-studying Korean. Almost got a Level 5 but oh well, there’s always next year. 120 days left before the 40th TOPIK.
As I have mentioned in my previous post, passing TOPIK 2 is a very difficult task for intermediate learners like me. To be honest, it was so difficult I thought I wouldn’t be able to advance to Level 4 and still get Level 3. I didn’t look forward to the day the result came out. I dreaded that day to the extent that I got so sick I wasn’t able to open my restaurant that day. I wanted to check the result on the website but it was down.
The next day, I woke up to see a message from a Korean soldier telling me to text him as soon as I get up. And so I did and he told me I passed TOPIK 2. I was half asleep then so I got confused. Why on earth did I get Level 2? Lol. Stress is not good for the body. Haha! He told me I passed Level 4. But he didn’t know my score so I asked my previous boss, who is in Korea, to call TOPIK and asked about my score. I got 187 out of 300. I was 3 points away from getting Level 5!!!!! If I had answered one more question correctly, I could have passed Level 5!!! Why does this keep happening to me?? The last time I took TOPIK, I was 0.25 point away from getting Level 4 so I only got Level 3. Heh. I hate this kind of feeling. I almost passed Level 5. OTL But anyway, I’m happy I got Level 4 instead of getting another Level 3.
I’m planning to take TOPIK again but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to take the one on April coz it’s not easy to find time to study while running a restaurant.
When the TOPIK site is okay, I’ll post a screenshot of my scores here.
I quit my job as a Korean teacher at the Korean army on the last week of July. When I came back to claim my salary, they handed me an application form for the 36th TOPIK and told me to give it a try and so I did. I’ve got nothing to lose anyway. The Korean army requested to let the students take the TOPIK exam here in our city because they don’t have the budget to pay for the registration fee of 200+ students and send them to Manila to take the exam. It’s just not practical.
I had no time to study for TOPIK because I’m busy preparing for the opening of my restaurant. And even if I did have time, I was already too exhausted to even open my textbook. I just wanted to stretch my aching legs and sleep. I still do get some exposure to Korean language since my restaurant’s cook is a Korean who cannot speak English and there’s the Korean pastor and his family (he and his wife can’t speak English, only their children can). So I’ve been concentrating on improving my speaking skills and applying what I learned instead of studying just for the sake of passing an exam. I’ve also been attending Korean worship service. Thank God for Bibles with Korean and English translations. Haha!
The day before the exam was the first time I opened my textbooks. Lol. I reviewed the TOPIK 150 Essential Grammar and some grammar points from Korean Grammar in Use Advanced book. Even though everything was a little rushed, I felt like I was ready for the exam. I’ve studied these books before and all I needed was a review, right? Wrong. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
Even though my exam was scheduled in the afternoon, I went to the school in the morning to wish my students good luck. Some of my students are good friends of mine so I thought of showing up to cheer them on would make them feel a little bit at ease. All of them were first timers.
There was only one Korean guy sent by TOPIK and the rest were Korean soldiers who were asked to be proctors for the exam. I talked with them for a bit before the students were asked to enter the classrooms. I left the school to go to the Korean pastor’s house for the worship service. 사모님 prepared 만두국, 떡꼬치 and 떡볶이. We had lunch right after the worship service and they gave me a ride back to the school. It felt like I was going to take 수능. They prepared food for me and even went with me to the classroom where I will take the exam. They were very supportive of me. *coughs* What were my biological parents doing? *coughs* Before the exam started, the Korean army’s vice commander, who treats me like his own daughter, even came to cheer me on then left just when the exam was about to start. *coughs* Seriously, mom, dad, where were you? *coughs* All these Korean people coming to wish me luck and show their luck personally despite their busy schedules, I am deeply moved. The other soldiers who were proctors also wished me luck and left to have lunch since their job was done.
I was the only TOPIK 2 taker. It was awkward. And what’s more awkward is that the proctor was none other than 통역장교님 (the interpretation officer), my boss when I was still working at the Korean army. The two of us couldn’t help but snicker while he read the instructions. Imagine your best friend, the one you fool around with, suddenly became the proctor of your exam. That’s how it felt except that he’s not my best friend. Lol.
And so the exam started. First one was listening. At first, it was fine. But it was getting more difficult as it went. And the first thing I noticed was that most of the passages/dialogues were really long, like one long paragraph. Although I understood the words, I had a hard time because it’s like I needed 15 seconds more for my brain to process what I just heard so I can answer the question before moving on to the next question. Except for the long dialogues, each item was only read once. It was not helping that the classroom was on the road side. The noise coming from the vehicles passing by outside made it even more difficult to hear the audio properly even with windows closed. Then I had the writing exam. I was like “Oh, shit!” the moment I flipped to the page for the writing exam. The first few items were okay. You just have to make up sentences to complete the paragraph. But the essays… I was kinda used to the old TOPIK’s essay wherein it asks for you to write about a certain topic and it’s mostly about yourself. In the new one, there is a chart and a paragraph and you have to write something about it. I ended up writing crap. Crap because I had no idea what I was writing but I still kept on writing, hoping that I will get even just a few points from it. I was not myself during the writing exam.
Then it was time for break. 통역장교님 tried answering the questions and said that even though he’s a Korean, he finds the exam very difficult. We went to a different classroom to have a snack. The snack was only for him but he shared it with me. We talked about my business and he asked me what I will do if I pass and if I reach level 6 later on. Hmmm. Come to think of it, I haven’t thought of that yet. I’m just happy learning Korean. Never really thought much about it. Have I ever mentioned before that his Tagalog is really good that we converse in Tagalog most of the time instead of in English or Korean?
After the short break, I took the reading test. It wasn’t that hard but it wasn’t that easy either. I’m really good in reading so I didn’t have a hard time as when I was having the listening and writing exam. I enjoyed reading the passages but they were kinda lengthy and I only had 70 minutes to answer everything so I just scanned most of it. There were so many words I haven’t encountered before but having been exposed to working with Koreans, I kinda learned how to understand some words by context.
The exam was too difficult. I doubt I passed the TOPIK exam. Well, I didn’t prepare for it so I guess I deserve a 불합격. It felt like I took the advanced TOPIK. Clearly, I’m still not in that level. I’m still a struggling intermediate learner. How I wish they just stuck with the old TOPIK format.
I had mixed feelings after the exam. First, disappointment. I was disappointed with myself for performing poorly on the exam. Second, traumatized. I was expecting it to be hard but not THAT hard. It was like the same feeling I felt during typhoon Haiyan. I expected it to be a powerful typhoon but I didn’t expect the storm surge that came with it. It’s like I underestimated the exam. Lol. Or that feeling I felt when we went to the mall and watched The Remaining not knowing that it was a thriller/horror movie. I kinda stopped watching halfway coz I’m a chicken when it comes to scary movies. Haha! Third, relieved. It felt good to step out of that classroom. I was just glad it was done. Fourth, motivated. I never want to feel that way again. The next time I take the TOPIK exam, I will be more prepared.
I don’t recommend intermediate learners to take the test. It feels like this exam was made for advanced learners only. It felt like jumping into the swimming pool thinking it wasn’t that deep but later on, you realized it actually was because you already find yourself drowning and struggling to get back onto the surface. You can if you want to but be prepared. If you think you can and are already ready for it, then give it a try. Gird your loins. Lol.
Anyway, what’s done is done. I need to put all my time and attention back to my restaurant which will open soon (I’ll make a post when it opens). I’m planning to take TOPIK again next year, October.
고급 시험 본 거 같다. 시험은 한국 사람들도 잘 보기 힘들 정도로 너무 어려웠다. 멘붕. ㅠ ㅠ 그 시험 다시 안 본다. 차라리 공포 영화나 보는 게 나겠다. ㅋ 나중에 또 도전할게. 지금이 때가 아냐. 속상해. ㅠ 생각보다 너~~~무 어렵다. ㅠ 이해 좀 했는데도 너무 빨라서 생각할 시간도 없고 한번씩만 들려줘서 헷갈렸다. 아무튼, 김영환 목사님, 데려다 주셔서 감사합니다. 사모님, 한국 음식 중에서 제가 제일 좋아하는 떡볶이 만들어 주셔서 감사합니다. 잘 먹었습니다. ^^ ♡ 응원해 주셔서 감사합니다. 그리고 아라아우 (필리핀 합동지원단)의 부단장님께도 바쁜데도 불구하고 응원하러 와주셔서 감사합니다. 통역장교님께도 진심으로 감사하고 준비 안 해서 죄송합니다. ㅋ ^^;; 나중에 밥 사줄거예요. 약속~ 응원 메시지 보내준 친구들도~ 고마워용~ ♡ 시험 잘 못 봐서 불합격이에요. 응원해주신 분들에게 너무 미안해. ㅠ ㅠ