Taking the Korean Language Exam

Spoiler alert: I passed. 난 살아남아 다행이야!


The kid did it.

A baby’s handful of people have inquired as to why I do not blog anymore. Although I have a bunch of excuses, Korean classes were why I vanished from the world. I have been studying since last April, but took a month off in May and then stopped again in mid-December. At that time, I signed up for TOPIK (the official Korean language exam) and then did what any serious student would do – stopped studying.

To be honest, my schedule was pretty dreadful. My body just could not keep up with my will to learn. Three times a week my schedule would look like this:

-8AM = wake up

-8:40AM = run (no really, run) to catch the train

-9AM to 6PM = work

-6:10 to 6:50PM = commute to language school

-7PM to 9PM = Korean class

-9:15PM to 9:45PM = dinner

-9:50PM to 10:50PM = commute home

-11PM to WHO KNOWS WHEN = watch YouTube videos (crucial to my mental health)/do homework/grade papers

Add that to basically raising a fleet of four and five year olds and you will understand why I have aged tremendously.

After a while, I started to question whether or not all of my effort was worth it. On the days I did not have class, I would spend hours doing homework. Although one of the three teachers I had was absolutely amazing and is now one of my closest friends, my skill level dropped after she stopped teaching me. The teacher after her was nice and shared the same frightening passion for kpop, but unfortunately did not have a teaching style that my fellow classmates and I liked – most dropped after a few weeks. I held on for three long, life-draining months, but finally jumped off the boat as well. Although my reading, listening, and writing were decent, my speaking was a joke. Believe it or not, I am still more comfortable speaking Hungarian (which I studied in 2013) and Spanish (which I studied ten years ago).


제 예쁜 선생님, 미현!

Signing up for the exam took two hours and constant clicking and refreshing of web pages. As there are limited spots, you have to move quickly to secure one. I took the exam at Dongguk University, which is in the center of Seoul. On the day of the test, everything went pretty smoothly until the reading section. It was then that the girl behind me STARTED WHISPERING THE QUESTIONS TO HERSELF. 진짜 미치는 꼴 보고싶어?! Mind you, it is supposed to be completely silent. I tried to be smooth and polite and do small turns with my body, clear my throat, and dramatically put my fingers in my ears to show her that she was being too loud. I did not turn around because I did not want anyone to think I was cheating. After twenty minutes of torture/rereading the same question, I began to notice other people growing more and more annoyed with the 공공의 적. I decided then and there to try to save all of us. I turned around and angrily shushed her (OH WOW, JEN, HOW BRAVE). Her shock and immediate silence was, for the lack of better words, satisfying. My point is DO NOT BE AN ASS. SHUT UP DURING TESTS. NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR YOU.

The way the TOPIK exams work is that there are two tests: TOPIK I and TOPIK II. TOPIK I has levels 1 and 2 and only makes you do reading and listening. TOPIK II has levels 3 to 6 and includes reading, listening, and writing. I took TOPIK I. To get level 1, you have to get 80/200 points. To get level 2, you have to get 140/200. My score? 135/140. 이게 꿈이냐, 생시냐? Although I am a little peeved that I did not get level 2, I only took one month of level two classes (out of six), so the fact I was only five points away is something I can live with. I will, however, blame the whispering girl behind me for wasting my precious time. I should have taken over the reigns of my fate chariot sooner!

I, Jennifer, am officially level one until my certificate expires in two years. I guess the $1,000+ I spent on Korean classes and books went towards something…

3 responses to “Taking the Korean Language Exam

  1. Pingback: Seoul – A Year in the Life | The Great Escape·

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