The horrifying 36th topik experience.(New Topik)

I got Topik 4 last year, so I decided to register for the 36th topik 3 months ago. However, 3 weeks before the exam, I had a laser surgery, which meant I could not prepare for the 36th topik. This was also the first Topik exam to apply the new format in my country, so it was very difficult. At that time, I could see things clearly, but my eyes have not healed completely. (It took 3 to 6 months for the complete recovery), so I intended to give up the 36 topik exam. But later, after a consideration, I still decided to take the exam to experience the new format, but this exam turned out to be worse than I had expected.

Last time, there were only Korean proctors in the Topik exam, but this time, there was a Korean proctor and a Vietnamese proctor in each exam room. After calling the candidates’ names, they asked us to put our bags on the stage. The new point of this exam was that they had a special suitcase for our mobile phones. Then they distributed the OMR pens. I love these new OMR pens because they have two nibs: 1 medium nib for marking the answer sheet and 1 fine nib for writing the essay. Then the proctors distributed the listening and writing answer sheets. We did the listening part and the writing part in 110 minutes. The listening part was extremely difficult. There were 50 questions combining the intermediate and advanced level. The speed of the audios was fast and the questions were related to many difficult academic and economic issues. In the old intermediate topik exam, we listened to each question TWICE and in the old advanced topik exam, we listened to each question ONCE. However, in the new topik exam, WE ONLY LISTENED TO EVERY QUESTION ONCE. Therefore, the listening part became more and more challenging.

After the audio stopped, the proctors suddenly collected all of our listening answer sheets. I was very shocked because I did not mark any thing on the listening answer sheets yet. I had a habit of marking my answers on the Topik papers first, then I re-marked them on the answer sheets. In the old topik exam, when we did the listening part and the reading part in 120 minutes, the proctors collected the listening and reading answer sheets after 120 minutes. Therefore, in the new topik exam when we did the listening part and writing part in 110 minutes, I thought that they would collect the answer sheets after 110 minutes. Therefore, when the proctors collected all the listening answer sheets except from my sheet. I panicked and pleaded the proctors to spare me 1 minute to mark the listening sheet. Luckily, she agreed and I managed to submit my listening answer sheet. (My friends said that in her topik exam room, the proctors collected the listening and writing answer sheets after 110 minutes. Another friend said that the proctors gave students 5 minutes to mark the listening answer sheet before collecting. Therefore, I thought you should ask your proctors about the time of collecting answer sheets in advance)

The writing part was also very difficult. We had to fill in the blanks and complete two essays in 50 minutes. I ran out of time. I don’t think 50 minutes is enough for a 300-character essay and a 700-character essay. The topics were also very academic, which were related to Korean population and motivation to work.

I felt the reading part was a little bit easier. Nevertheless, I was under the time pressure when I had to finish 50 intermediate and advanced questions in 70 minutes. After the surgery, my eyes were easily dry and tired, so when I did the reading part, my eyes became reddish and dry. My head was also dizzy and my hand were shaking. Finally, I ran out of time and could not finish all 50 questions. This 36th topik turned out to be a nightmare, but at least I did not give up and got a lot of experience.

Update: You can check my result from this post 

14 thoughts on “The horrifying 36th topik experience.(New Topik)

  1. I am sorry that the experience wasn’t what you had hoped. I plan on taking the new format test in Spring of 2015 – I know that I need to study hard to do well; actually I am somewhat scared. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.


    1. Thank you for your comment. I know that Topik II is difficult but I can’t believe that it is much more difficult than I had expected. Anyway let’s try hard for the next topik exam


  2. After reading your post it scares me to take the TOPIK exam now. I feel the content in the new TOPIK is much more challenging than the old format (for instance: more academic topics to write about). I don’t know what the creators of TOPIK want to achieve by changing the TOPIK exam?

    I’m sorry that your experience wasn’t good but I guess it’s a learning experience. Thank you for sharing 🙂


    1. Hello CHIBIDANI, I heard that they want to attract more people to take the topik exam by making the topik I (beginner) super easy. However, they also want us to improve our skills by making the Topik II very difficult


  3. Wow… I didn’t think the format would be so tough. Looks like I have some serious practicing to do if I want to register next year…


  4. I hope you continue to recover well from your surgery. The sensitivity must be killer.

    I’ve been reading people’s experiences with Topik II and I must say that I’m probably not going to take this test until I’m very comfortable in the advanced level. It seems more geared towards that. Now, as opposed to the previous system in which levels were broken up evenly, we have an extremely easy Topik I and a Killzone: Liberation/Devil May Cry- Dante Must Die mode Topik II. The gap is horrendous.

    Now for academic writing, there are four 쓰기 books by 연세대학교 which the school recommends for advanced learners to practice academic writing. I haven’t used them yet, but I will in the future to see how much use it can be for the new writing section.


      1. My eyes are recovering well. Thank you very much for sharing your opinion and introducing good materials for topik preparation. I also can’t understand why there is such a big gap between topik I and Topik II.


  5. Thanks for the description of the new TOPIK exams. I’ve been wondering what they were like. Now it seems I need to study a lot more before I go for it. I took basic TOPIK in the old format, it was stressful but not like what you describe here *shudder* I hope your eyes get better soon. I have dry eyes and know how awful you must feel.


  6. That’s very brave of you, to take TOPIK 2. I finished studying with the 36th TOPIK problem set. I won’t pass advanced level, I’m sure of it. I won’t be able to answer any question of the writing section. Out of 50 questions of listening and reading, I think 30 is intermediate, and 20 is advanced level. That makes me want to take TOPIK 1 instead because I still need a fairly long time before I can take TOPIK 2 with confidence. Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope your eyes are well now.


    1. The 36th Topik exam is really difficult and challenging. I don’t know why I decided to take that exam. At least I got some experience to prepare for the next topik exam. The writing section is the most challenging section when we have to write about social issues.
      My eyes are recovering. Thank you for your consideration ^^


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