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