Last Saturday I finally took TOPIK 1 (whoa, it already feels like it was ages ago!) and surprisingly enough, my sister and I actually found our way to the Korean Cultural Center without any trouble!
When we got there we waited outside for a while, not really sure whether to enter the building or not since we were there pretty early, but soon other Korean lovers joined us and we all got invited inside by one of the employees. After waiting for a while in the waiting area, we all had to get our registration slips and then we got to go to the room where we had to take the actual test.
My first impression was that it seemed just like a normal written exam just like back home in Denmark! I walked in to the dark room and had to find my seat. All desks had names and registration numbers, so you had to find the one with your name. Not too long after finding my desk, the supervisors joined us and started to collect our phones while explaining the structure and rules of the exam. As I mentioned in my last post, I actually had an anxiety attack right before I found my desk, but at this point I was starting calm down and this actually ended up being my favorite part of the exam. Why? Because the instructions were mainly in Korean. Only a few things got translated to English and somehow I just found it so incredibly satisfying to actually use my knowledge and be able to understand what was going on! Honestly, that’s probably the reason why my anxiety started to fade away. At that point I had already considered quitting and just leaving the room before the test started, but I knew that I would regret it SO badly! Passing level 2 in April 2016, has been my goal and a big part of my motivation in 10 whole months! Not only would I be incredibly disappointed in myself, but I would also leave the Korean Cultural Center with a really bad memory filled with anxiety and I might never be able to get over that. So I decided that I would skip TOPIK 2 (which was just a bonus since I was already there) and stay for TOPIK 1 no matter what. And I did!
After waiting for a while, we got out TOPIK pens (I have read about many people keeping these pens as a souvenir, but I never understood why until I got mine. I had no idea that the pens where made specifically for the exam!) and soon after we got our papers too. Soon after, the exam finally started but sadly it didn’t last for long. We started with 듣기 but our audio player kept stopping in the middle of the tracks. I felt really sorry towards some of the other test takers. Some of them where really nervous and had been sitting with their books, cramming, until the very last moment, and these unexpected technical issues obviously made them more nervous! After a few tries we were told to jump straight into 읽기 while they tried to find another cd player. This is my second favorite moment of the exam! You see, there was no clock in the room so I had no idea whether I was behind on time or not, which was quite stressful. Also, I haven’t taken a TOPIK mock test since September, and I had completely forgotten how much time we had and how many questions there was. I literally had no idea what I was doing so I just tried to focus on the current question in front of me. At some point one of the supervisors pokes me on the shoulder and asks “You ARE aware that you need to fill out the answers on that separate paper, right?”… Oh boy! My face must have been priceless! I DID know that had to do that because they said so in the beginning and I DID understand it. However, I have never used that separate answer sheet at home and after my anxiety issues I had just put all of my focus into the test and had almost forgotten that I was NOT home in my own living room and I was NOT just taking a mock test! Having no idea how much time I had to fix it, I semi panicked and tried to fill it out as fast as possible, which obviously caused me to accidently mark a few answers wrongly. At the exam you are not allowed to use your own pen or correction tape, so I had to raise my hand and wait patiently for the supervisor to bring me the tape. I got it corrected and finished the last few questions and then while I was thinking about what a silly mistake that was, one of the supervisors declared that we now only had 10 minutes left! Turns out I had more than enough time! This brings me to my point: This is my second favorite moment! As mentioned above, I haven’t taken the test since September and back then I just barely passed it + I had to skim through the last 3 questions in order to answer them in time. This time I was able to read some of the questions several times, I could fill out the answers twice on different papers, erase a few answers and then correct them, and still be able to finish with 10+ minutes to spare. If that’s not progress, then I don’t know what is!
After the 10 minutes had past, they gave us two extra minutes to finish up, since we had to start the 읽기 so sudden. We then picked up where we left with 듣기 but the new player also seemed to be against us! Once again I felt really sorry towards the other test takers, and the supervisors too! They were definitely worried about what to do if it didn’t start working properly soon! It the end one of the supervisors just had to stand by the player and be ready to restart it if it stopped, and that worked out perfectly.
In the end we finished without too many problems and I left the room smiling and feeling really good about myself! Like most of the other test takers, I brought my pen back home with me. It now has a special place on my desk (aka my favorite study place) and it will stay there to remind me of my first TOPIK experience, and motivate me to study for the next!
I have already thought about my next TOPIK goal, but I have decided to just study without a goal, until May 26th, where the results from the 46th TOPIK will be published. I can’t wait to see my result and I can’t wait to learn more Korean and see more progress. Things have been a bit hectic since I got back from London, but it should be back to normal now. Hopefully that means that I can spend my long weekend with my first post-TOPIK study session!
Have a great day guys!