In typical blogger fashion (or is it just me?), I’ll start off this post by lamenting about the embarrassing 6-month long hiatus I’ve taken from updating my blog. Despite the fact that few people (if any) have even noticed my absence, I always feel obligated to address it.
While I’m sure you’re all dying to know what fun language-learning adventures I’ve experienced in the first half of 2018, those will have to wait until a later post. Today I’m going to talk about one of my new short-term goals: taking the 60th TOPIK this October.
What is the TOPIK?
TOPIK stands for Test of Proficiency in Korean, and it is a standardized language test administered by the Korean government. It serves as a way to evaluate your Korean proficiency. People take this test for a variety of reasons–some are required to take it in order to apply for jobs in Korea, while others take it just to get a grasp of their Korean skill level.
I fall into this latter category. While no test can describe a person’s language ability with 100% accuracy, I’ve self-studied for several years now and I’m curious as to what level I’ll be able to achieve.
The TOPIK is divided into TOPIK I (Levels 1-2) and TOPIK II (Levels 3-6), with Level 6 being the highest possible level of proficiency. Here’s a table of the test format that I borrowed from the blog Soshi Love:
I’m taking the TOPIK II, which is longer and includes a writing section. My studying routine has always been mostly listening and reading focused, so I’m suspecting that those will be the categories that I have higher scores in. Due to my lack of writing practice, I’m predicting a rather dreadful writing score.
General Studying Plans
The TOPIK will be administered October 20th, which leaves me a little over two months to prepare. That’s definitely enough time to set goals and make considerable progress.
While I’m pretty grammatically sound, my goal in recent years has been to improve my Korean vocabulary, and that is my primary goal for preparing for the TOPIK as well. In my mind, my scores will all come down to how many of the questions I can actually understand well enough to answer. I haven’t looked into practice questions or really investigated the specifics of the testing format/question style yet, but my very uninformed goal is to achieve Level 4.
I’m not going to prepare very hard for the writing section this time around. I’ll look at the format and maybe learn some useful formal writing phrases, but beyond that I’m not going to kill myself over this section with only a month to prepare. I’d rather be learning more vocabulary that will help me in all three sections rather than going all out for just one section.
Overall, the biggest way I can prepare for the test is studying every day. I’m going to try and keep track of how much I study every day, so that I can look back after the test to see how consistently I managed to prepare for this test. My goal is to have a perfect “attendance” of studying every day.
I’ve always been a fan of setting goals, both short- and long-term, but I’m generally not great at finding the motivation every day to achieve them. This is because my goals have no official deadline, and I set the goals for the vague purpose of “getting better at Korean”. There are artificial ways to set deadlines for yourself to try to motivate yourself more, but honestly, those methods don’t really have any real consequences if you don’t follow through, which is why they don’t work well for me.
By registering to take the TOPIK, I’m giving myself a much more tangible goal with real consequences. I’m paying $40 just to take the test, and I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to waste money, so I’ll be motivated to study to make that 40 bucks worthwhile.
Also, I’ll have to drive over 3 hours to the testing location (almost a 7 hour round trip) just to take the test, so I’ll basically be devoting an entire day just to take this test. They only administer the test once a year, so if I don’t do well, I won’t have the chance to take it again until next year. This is another motivation to prepare hard so that this trip isn’t a big waste of time.
Overall, I’m investing both time and money into taking a test that I don’t technically have to take, but I’m still super excited about taking it. It’s not only giving me a very tangible source of motivation to study more Korean every day, but it’s also giving me the chance to be officially evaluated on my Korean proficiency for the very first time.
Throughout the next few weeks, I’m planning on posting both updates about my language adventures from the first half of the year as well as more specific study updates on how I’m preparing for the TOPIK, so stay tuned!