These are my results for 40th and 51th TOPIK. Just wanna share a bit on some of things I learnt from the preparation and exam.
(My purpose for taking the exam is just to check my own level, I do not need it for study or work, so your preparation method might be a lot more different if you have a deadline to meet.)
I actually did not really study in between the two exams in the last two years. The only things I do are watch K drama/variety shows I am interested in, read (sometimes translate) interviews of actors whom I like, watch JTBC news 2 months before exam as background (sometimes active listening), use Korean while travelling in Korea, talk to italki Korean tutors around once every two weeks. I was surprised when I did past papers this year, I found I have improved for both listening and reading, I can understand more and my reading speed is also faster. Language learning really takes time.
Some of the things I have learnt
- Time yourself to do past papers, one or two is enough. I did more past papers including the ones in old format in my first attempt, I did not think it helped improve my exam technique or language at all. I know there are people who do the past papers, check all the words, remember them all and then revise over and over. I think that may be helpful in improving your Korean, BUT for me, as revision materials, exam papers are way too boring… I prefer other medium…
- If you are just of intermediate level, you can never finish the reading paper, do not even try to do it, focus on the earlier questions and try to be as accurate as possible in your answers (rather than skimming through them in an attempt to finish the paper). Because with your level, in the end, you will not get a lot of the advanced questions right even if you manage to finish the paper, and you may make a lot of silly mistakes in the reading paper.
- Listening. Try not to daydream in the first part in which the material will not be repeated. If your reading is in intermediate level, you may find it difficult to finish reading all the options after listening, so try to read while you are listening at the same time. For the second part, sometimes you get extra time because the materials will be repeated, do not waste the time, use it to look at the options in the next questions, so you can guess and know beforehand what the material will be about. If you have even more time, you can go read the writing questions and think about it.
- Writing. Read the past papers and remember sentence structures that are useful in writing. For the first part, remember stuff for like asking for help etc. For the data part, remember structures for describing data. (You can read sample answers in past papers to learn how to describe them.) For essay, remember sentence structures for argumentative essay, stuff like “in conclusion”, “first of all”, etc.
- Bring some food/snack and drink in case you are hungry during the break.