37th TOPIK Result

So I’m not sure what it was, but I was so nervous about this result that I’ve literally had trouble sleeping the past three or four nights.

It’s probably partially the fact that this time means something.

I’ve taken TOPIK three times before (the beginner level once, and intermediate twice), but it was always just a personal progress thing. For my own satisfaction. This time passing level 5 means the difference between staying in Chuncheon for another 9 months, or returning home to my hubby in Seoul at the end of February and starting my Master’s program in March.

It’s partly that this is the first time I’ve taken a TOPIK class before the TOPIK.

My teachers are awesome and so kind, but that’s also what increases the pressure. I want to do well for them too.

It’s partly that this is the first time I’ve taken TOPIK with other people.

For me it’s always been an individual thing. No one in my classes (mostly older Japanese women) was ever that concerned with it, and I never shared the experience or the results with them.

This time 75% of my class is KGSP, so they’re in the same boat as me. And everyone in my class took TOPIK. It’s understood that we will report to the teachers about how we did, and it will be discussed amongst us. As a naturally competitive person there’s some pressure there…

It’s also partially that I’m still in a state of disbelief.

I just passed level 4 in April, but I still don’t feel confident about my Korean skills. Not in all areas anyway. I didn’t expect level 5 to even be a possibility at this point. I honestly expected to place into the level 3 class, or maybe 4 if I was lucky, so level 5 was a major surprise. Before starting Korean classes here I was seriously considering throwing the January TOPIK in order to stay in language classes for the full year, but that was when I thought I might just barely pass by luck. Then I started to gain confidence that passing was more than a slight possibility, and began to entertain the idea that level 6 might be within reach soon. When I told my teacher what I thought I’d gotten in listening and reading, she said “Oh, 6 might be a possibility” And honestly, that’s probably what made me so nervous now.

So I was literally counting down till 3:00 pm today.

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And the result is in………..

Writing 66
Listening 86
Reading 84
Total 236

Which means… level 6!

Back in April when I took the intermediate test, I seriously wouldn’t have imagined passing level 6 anytime soon. With the old test, I’m not sure if I would have honestly… Although because I was convinced I was not even close to ready, I never actually looked at the advanced test.

But here we are, and I’m pretty ecstatic. Not the least because it means I can go back to Seoul in February.

The moral of the story: Having a good teacher who knows the test well can work wonders!

D-12: Countdown to the TOPIK test

As a KGSP student, or even as a regular Korean learner, the TOPIK test is an unavoidable obstacle.

As a KGSP student you are required to study Korean for 1 year, UNLESS:

  1. You have already passed TOPIK level 5 or 6 before arriving in Korea. In this case you are required to go straight into your graduate program from September. The April test is the last you can take to submit a score by the deadline. (I’m not sure if you can submit scores later from the July test and be exempted, but it’s only offered in Korea anyway, so that would only be an issue for a handful of people.)
  2. You pass TOPIK leve 5 or above during the first 6 months of language study. In this case you MUST start your graduate program in March (after studying for just 6 months). In Korea there are tests in October, November and January, but if you want to take the October test you need to consider applying even before you come to Korea.
  3. You DON’T pass TOPIK level 3 or above after one year of study. In this case you will be given an extra six months to pass level 3 and start your graduate program the following March. There are no extensions after one year and six months.

For some it is confusing that you need level 5 to start a graduate program early, but only level 3 to start after one year. On the face of it, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but to me it seems like a good policy. On the one hand they want everyone to reach as high a level as possible, so for people with previous knowledge of Korean they want them to show that they are at an advanced level in order to skip all or part of the Korean language requirement. On the other hand, if they required that same standard of everyone, including those that start from zero, that would be a near impossible feat for just one year of study, and classes are intensive enough as it is. Plus many graduate programs only require level 3 or 4 for admission. Makes sense to me.

In any case, I am one of those people hoping to start my graduate program in March, so I now have two chances at passing level 5 (November and January), and the first is coming up in just 12 days.

Under normal circumstances I would be looking at past tests and trying to get an idea of strengths and weaknesses, and test day strategy, BUT in July they introduced a new TOPIK format, and only two exams have been administered so far in the new format. And I’ve looked at both of those…

This will be my first time taking the test in the new format, and that’s a little scary. BUT as part of the KGSP program KNU offers afternoon classes twice a week specifically geared toward the TOPIK exam, and I feel like those have been useful in developing test strategy, and also getting used to the new format. My reading score went up 10 points from the practice test we took at the beginning to the one we took on Monday (which was the actual test from this past October), so that puts me squarely in level 5 territory, assuming this test isn’t harder… or my guessing less accurate…

At the beginning of the term the TOPIK couldn’t be far enough away, but now I really just want to get it over with…

Some TOPIK hints that I’ve learned from my prep course:

  • In both reading and listening the test format is always the same, meaning that you will always find the same kinds of questions in exactly the same places, with only slight variations. Look at old tests to get used to what kinds of questions you will be asked.
  • In TOPIK II (which combines the old Intermediate and Advanced tests, and includes levels 3, 4, 5 and 6), the questions always go from easier to harder. The first 24 (ish) questions would be equivalent to the old Intermediate and 25-50 are Advanced. If your goal is level 3 or 4 take plenty of time on the first half, and through practice tests try to figure out which of the harder questions you’re best at answering. Also, for the grammar/vocab questions at the beginning of the reading section, you can usually eliminate any “hard” grammar or vocab answers because those are level 3/4 questions.
  • For writing, there are two passages with two free fill in the blank answers, and two essay questions. The first two questions are 10 points each (5 for each blank), the short essay (200-300 characters) is 30 points and the long essay (600-700 characters) is 50 points.
    • The short essay will be based on a graph or chart. All you need to do is explain it. Include all of the information included in the chart to answer the prompt question. Make sure to include some kind of topic sentence at the beginning and a conclusion at the end, and there’s your 200-300 characters. Very little thinking involved. Brush up on useful words to talk about statistics (more than, less than, rise, fall… easy stuff) and you should be good.
    • The longer essay will be more abstract, and usually about some issue in society. It will include three or four sub-questions, so make sure to answer all of those (in the form of one cohesive essay). More advanced vocabulary and grammar forms will gain you points, so choosing a couple things (grammar is most flexible) that you are comfortable with before the test may be helpful. If you run out of time make sure to at least finish the sentence you were writing because points are taken off for being incomplete.
    • I mention the fill-in-the-blank questions last (even though they come first) because for me they are a low priority. If you read them and can answer them right away, then do it. If you can’t, they are only 5 points for each blank so your time might be better spent on the essay questions. The first question will usually be some kind of invitation or advertisement. It will usually be in 습니다 form, so make sure you match your verb endings to the other sentences in the passage (and the same for the second question which will probably be plain 다 form). The second question is usually some kind of story or essay. If you are aiming for levels 3 or 4 then these first two questions are more important.
    • And speaking of the verb endings, ideally the two essay questions should be written in 다 form (like a book or newspaper in Korean). If you are in a Korean course that is more speaking focused and don’t have practice writing, you might want to brush up on this before the test.

That is a crash course in taking TOPIK II. I’m guessing that in terms of having the same kinds of questions in the same places, TOPIK I is similar, so definitely get hold of past tests, which you can do at the TOPIK website. TOPIK I does not have writing. Tests from the 35th test on are in the new format.

Nearing the end of term one

So we just started chapter nine… of ten…

It’s been a long eight weeks, and it also seems to have gone by in a flash.

I would say that my Korean has definitely improved… in some areas, but not so much in others.

One thing I think my language institute (Kangwon National University) does really well (at the higher levels) is writing. We use the Ewha University textbooks (level 5) plus Sogang University’s writing book (number 2), and we have afternoon TOPIK classes with one class each week devoted to TOPIK writing.

Sometimes I (we all) think “Oh my gosh, not more writing!” but in the end it is actually really useful, and really the only way to improve in writing is to do a lot of it, and get feedback.

I’m not a huge fan of the writing section of the Ewha textbooks though. I’ve used a fair selection of the major Korean language institutes’ textbooks: Yonsei’s at the summer school and for self study, Sogang for a conversation class I took in Japan, plus the writing book now, and Ewha’s for my current class. At some point, I will do a review of Yonsei and Sogang’s books as well, but for now here are some opinions on Ewha’s textbooks. (I have only seen levels 4 and 5, so my review will be based on those.)

Each chapter in Ewha’s books is divided into several sections:

  1. Preparation: Introduces three grammar points (in level 4 all three are introduced at the beginning, but in level 5 there is one at the beginning and two later on)
  2. Listening: Listen to a short conversation or speech
  3. Speaking: Introduces a situation and expressions that can be used in such a situation
  4. Reading: The readings vary from opinion to fiction to poetry
  5. Writing: In level 5 there is an additional reading demonstrating a particular form of writing, and a topic for practice writing. In level 4 the reading section is the example, and the writing section just has the topic for practice.
  6. Debate/Discussion: Some short reading introducing various viewpoints, and a topic for class discussion
  7. Idiomatic Expressions (level 4): Introduces three idiomatic expressions
  8. Vocabulary Expansion (level 5): Introduces a verb with mutiple meanings and 6 of the ways it can be used
  9. Proverbs (level 5): Introduces three proverbs (similar in form to the idiomatic expressions section in level 4)
  10. Culture and Life (level 4): A short reading on some aspect of Korean culture
  11. Literature (level 4): Introduces poems or short pieces of fiction

One thing I like about the Ewha books is that they are fairly balanced in their content. Whereas the main Yonsei books are very grammar focused and the main Sogang books are very conversation focused, the Ewha books have everything in one place, in a single B5 sized book (with an additional workbook available). I also like the extras at the end of each chapter (numbers 7-11 above). Proverbs and idioms are interesting and also useful, and some exposure to literature is a good change from the normally non-fiction contents of language textbooks.

The one thing I don’t like is the writing section. In level 4 you are still practicing the basics, so I feel like the writing topics are still fairly related to real life tasks that you might encounter. In level 5, however, it becomes more like a creative writing class, and less like a language class. How you feel about this depends on what your goal is in learning Korean, and what kind of writing practice you’ve had so far. For me, my experience writing was way behind my other skills, so I was looking for more basic advice about writing. I am also looking for a more expository approach to writing. If you’ve gone through Ewha’s books from level 1, then the level 5 writing assignments may seem less “out of the blue,” and if you enjoy creative writing then you will have fun with the Ewha topics. But again for me, I’m not really looking for creative writing skills in Korean.

The writing topics in book 5 include: a comparison of dialects in your native language, a speech about your personal technique for good health, a PR statement for an exhibition of historical artifacts, a newspaper article from 50 years in the future, a rewriting of a fable to represent current societal changes, an editorial about differences between Korean food culture and your own country, an essay about something you’ve felt or discovered about the environment, a movie review, a product user review, and a poem.

One of my big objections to the Ewha writing portion of the program here at KNU is more to do with how it is taught, and less to do with the assignments themselves. The primary focus here is in class work, with very little assigned homework. Some people would find that good, but with these writing topics I feel like they require more thinking time than just a 50-minute class period. I feel like time would be better spent discussing what we already wrote for homework and talking about how to improve it, rather than doing the actual writing in class.

I also am just not that interested in writing poetry in Korean… But practice is practice I suppose.

Choosing A Major for KGSP

This is a very important step in your application process.

First of all, I should say that in my personal opinion you should think very carefully about whether you really need a Master’s degree or not, and whether you are ready to do that Master’s degree or not before applying. If you already have a Master’s and are applying for a PhD, then I assume you know what you are getting into, but I feel like a lot of people choose to do Master’s degrees for the wrong reasons.

I should know… I did that once…

If you just want the chance to study in Korea and you’ve already finished university, a Master’s degree might not be the right thing for you.

If you want to study something completely unrelated to your university degree or anything you’ve ever done before then a Master’s degree might not be the right thing for you.

Or it might be, but you have to think long and hard about it.

The primary goal of a Master’s degree is to gain deeper knowledge in a field you already have knowledge in. A Master’s degree is a continuation of a Bachelor’s degree, not a second shorter Bachelor’s without the General Education requirements. This is why many universities will require that your Bachelor’s degree was in the same, or a very related subject. Look carefully at these requirements when you are choosing a university and a major because if you don’t fit the requirements your chances of getting into the school you choose will be very small, no matter how good your grades and test scores are.

The exception to this rule would be if you have extensive work experience in your field of choice. The reality is that businesses hire a wide variety of people, regardless of major, so if you have managed to gain real life work experience in the field you would like to get a Master’s in (like Investment Banking or Computer programming) then it might not matter that you majored in English Literature or History (or whatever).

Ultimately, a Master’s degree is a lot of work (especially if you are doing any part of it in a language that is not your native one), and it requires a vested interest in the field. It’s not something to do just because you want to go to Korea, or just because you want to put off looking for a job. It’s good to have a goal for what you plan to do after the Master’s degree is finished, and it’s best if the Master’s degree is an integral part of achieving that goal.

If choosing a major is difficult for you, then doing a Master’s degree might not be the right thing for you right now.

I should also note that once you have been selected for KGSP, you will not be able to change universities or majors without giving up the scholarship, or reapplying for the scholarship. When you apply to a Master’s program you are applying to a specific department within a university, so with or without a scholarship, switching to another department means submitting another application. The scholarship is not just yours to take with you wherever you decide to go. It is a specific agreement between NIIED, a university department, and yourself. Within a department at a university, you may be able to change the specific focus of your studies if the policy at your university allows that.

This was one of the points that NIIED emphasized at orientation, and is really something you should be aware of before you apply.

Think through your choices carefully, and choose the best path for you.

After the Placement Test

So classes have finally started and the first week is done.

On the first day of class, a list was printed with the results of the placement test and the class assignments for levels with enough people for more than one class. (At most schools you will find that an individual class has no more than about 15 people, which is more conducive to language learning. Here I think it is about 12 people per class.)

If you took the placement test (ie have studied some Korean before) then you may find yourself unsatisfied with the level you placed into. As I mentioned before, if you think you should actually be in a higher level try looking through the whole textbook for your assigned level. While it may seem repetitive in the beginning, it will probably get harder as you move farther into the term, but if you feel that most of the book is review then talk to your teacher as soon as possible to see if you will be able to move up to the next level.

I found myself in the opposite situation. I placed far higher than I expected (into level 5). I thought a lot about the situation and eventually decided to stay where I was, but here are some of the things I considered. If your Korean is pretty strong, you may find yourself in a similar situation.

  1. I looked at the level 4 books. Honestly there is a lot in them that I haven’t studied in detail, but I am working on them on my own along with the level 5 class because other considerations won out in the end.
  2. I considered where I want to be in six months. If I stay in level 5 then I will have finished this level in time for the November TOPIK test, and I will be half-way through level 6 for the January TOPIK test. This, hopefully, gives me a fairly good chance of getting at least a level 5 at one of those tests, which would mean I get to start my master’s program in March. If I went down to level 4 I would be less prepared in both November and January, and have a slightly smaller chance of passing. The end result would be either staying in the language program until September, and likely finishing level 6 in the third quarter, and being bored in the last quarter, or barely passing TOPIK 5 in January, and not being able to do the level 6 class (because once you’ve passed TOPIK level 5 you have to go on to the Master’s program). Of course if I bomb both tests anyway then I’ll be stuck repeating stuff for 6 months instead of just three… but I’ll take my chances.
  3. I went to the first class to scope out the competition. Which is not to say I feel any sense of competition with my lovely classmates, but I didn’t want to be way behind everyone else. As it stands, I’m probably somewhere in the middle – stronger in some areas and weaker in others. Even if it is difficult, I figure we’re all in it together, so we can get through it.

Your thought process will be different depending on where it is you end up. For example, if I had been placed in level 4, but felt that that was a little too difficult, then I probably would have decided to go back a level because I would have been more concerned with getting a good foundation rather than passing the TOPIK in January. Honestly, I think level 3 is the perfect starting point if you haven’t studied intensively in Korea already. Starting in level three means that as long as you pass all of your classes you will be able to finish level 6 by the end of the year, and at the same time you’re getting an intensive, well-rounded study opportunity. I think that the students in my level 5 class who studied in Korea before are much stronger in speaking than those of us who spent most of our study time abroad. That is one thing I am jealous of.

No matter what level you end up in, my advice to you is to focus on the 예습 (preparation/preview, the opposite of review). We got a detailed syllabus, so I know exactly what is coming the next day. Rather than focusing on reviewing what you did in class that day, focus on previewing what you will do the next day. Look up words you don’t know. Try to work out the meaning a usage of new grammar. Get a general feel for everything, and figure out what you don’t understand. I think this helps you to get a lot more out of the class.

For example, if you look up vocabulary words in a dictionary, some of them will make sense right away, but others may have multiple possible definitions, or it may be an idiomatic expression, or it might just not be in the dictionary at all. If you know which ones really require a teacher’s help then you can focus on those rather than finding you need help after the class has moved on. The same can be said of grammar. If you know which parts are explained well in the book, and which parts you don’t understand, then you can ask better questions. Of course most teachers will be happy to help you outside of class, but discussing things in class can be a help to everyone.

Of course review is also important. Don’t just move on to the next thing without reviewing the others. This is probably my biggest weakness, just looking forward and not back. It means that I can follow class very well, but forget everything right after… It’s important to find a good balance time-wise between previewing and reviewing.

And don’t worry if you are just starting from zero. Of the 80 something KGSP people here at KNU only about 30 of us even sat the placement test. The rest all started from the beginning. While you may find things difficult at first because the teachers tend to only use Korean no matter how little you know, in the long run studying everything intensively in Korea has its advantages. Your course will be continuous without gaps that come from studying in different curriculums. You’ll have much more access to the language early on, which may help to prevent you from developing bad habits, so if you work at it you may end up stronger than those of us who started higher.

Language Proficiency Tests ~ Part 2

Earlier, I talked about language proficiency tests in general, and the benefits or limitations of them.

Now, I want to talk a little bit about language proficiency tests in the context of KGSP. In my post on required documents for the KGSP application, I did touch briefly on my general opinion, but there are some other considerations as well.

First of all, I would reiterate that if you are not a native speaker of either English or Korean, then I would submit either an English or a Korean proficiency test result. Except in exceptional circumstances, you will be doing your graduate study in some combination of English and Korean, so it is a good idea to show that you are up to that challenge.

You can show English proficiency by taking the TOEFL or IELTS exams, or by showing that you completed your undergraduate or Master’s degree in English (obviously being a native speaker counts too). My knowledge of these tests is limited because I’ve never had to take them. I can say the for TOEFL between 100-120 is considered very high, and 80-100 is high. (80 is the minimum requirement to be admitted to Harvard Graduate School, though of course their actual cutoff may be higher.) As with any test, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the format of the test, and the kinds of questions you will see. Particularly with the TOEFL, you should get used to structuring written and spoken answers within a limited amount of time.

To show Korean proficiency you should take the TOPIK test. NIIED is the organization in charge of administering the TOPIK test, so it’s the only one they accept for KGSP.

First, a brief introduction to TOPIK.

The TOPIK exam was recently restructured, so keep that in mind when searching for information online. The current TOPIK system has two tests – TOPIK I and TOPIK II. TOPIK I is for beginners and includes a reading and a listening section (100 points each). If you score more than 80 of the total 200 points, then you pass level 1. If you score more than 140, then you pass level 2. The TOPIK II is for intermediate and advanced learners (prior to restructuring it was two separate tests, but now it is one test). The TOPIK II includes reading, listening and writing sections (100 points each). You need to score more than 120 points to pass level 3, more than 150 for level 4, more than 190 for level 5, and more than 230 for level 6.

Whereas with an English exam you are trying to show a strong overall proficiency because you will have limited opportunities to improve it formally in Korea, with a Korean exam even a pass at the lowest level (1 or 2) can have value for KGSP. With the TOPIK exam, you are mostly trying to show an interest and an effort in learning Korean.

There are exceptions to that rule though. There are some programs that will require you to speak Korean at the time you apply. If you do already have Korean proficiency, and you would like to apply to one of these programs, then it is a good idea to take the TOPIK and try for at least level 4 (level 5 or 6 would be preferable). Otherwise, you might want to avoid applying to these programs because they may reject you despite the year of language study you would get through KGSP. (When in doubt contact the department about language requirements.)

Also, if you personally would like to start your degree program right away and skip the language study, then you will need to get TOPIK 5 or 6. This is regardless of the language requirements of your degree program. Even if your program is 100% in English, in order to start early (in September of the year you apply, or March of the following year) you need to have TOPIK 5 or 6. (Although to successfully move on from the language program after one full year, you only need to pass level 3.)

So, what should you do if TOPIK is not available in your country?

TOPIK is available in quite a few countries (68 plus Korea), so you should check (and recheck) the official website to find out when and where you can take it. (Right now on the English page the list of testing sites is called “Experiment Station,” which sounds a little scary. The info is also only in Korean, but if you are ready to take TOPIK at any level then you should be able to read it. You can narrow your search by region and country.)

But if it really isn’t available in your country and you are highly proficient, I would recommend one of the following:

  1. Write your application in Korean. The application can be written either in Korean or in English. If you are applying to a program that requires Korean and you are proficient already, but cannot take a test, then show them through your application essays. As with any time you are writing in a non-native language have someone check them if you can, but don’t have someone write them for you – they will find out eventually that you are not that good at Korean, and you will be the one to suffer.
  2. Ask a Korean teacher for a recommendation. Unless your major was/is Korean language, or you just happen to have a Korean person as a professor for another major course, I would not recommend submitting this as your only recommendation. While language ability is important, it is more important to establish your knowledge and ability in your own field. But it doesn’t hurt to submit some proof of language ability as an extra recommendation, if you can’t take TOPIK.
  3. Travel to another country. This can be an expensive option, depending on how far you should go. I would really only recommend this option if it is important to you to start your degree program right away. You should weigh the options carefully. Which is more costly to you (in terms of time and money), going to another country to take the test, or spending your first 6 months in a language program instead of a degree program. If the later is more costly to you, then consider traveling to take the test. You should, of course, check with the organization in charge of running the test in that country to make sure you are allowed to register to take it from another country. You also need to be reasonably certain of passing at least level 5, or your effort will be for naught. If you are on the edge then you would probably benefit from at least 6 more months of study in Korea anyway.

And that last sentence brings me to my final point – it is possible to show too much proficiency. If you are the opposite of the person who wants to start their degree program right away, and you actually do want to spend some time focusing full time on improving your Korean language skills, then you may not want to submit the level 5 score. The unfortunate thing about the new TOPIK test is that the intermediate and advanced tests are now combined. Before if you took the intermediate test, then there was no way to pass level 5, but now the difference between level 4 and level 5 can be just a few points on the same test. Of course, I would always recommend doing your best and achieving the best possible score, but remember, as soon as you submit a level 5 or 6 score, you will be REQUIRED to start your degree program right away without doing the language program. Think for yourself about what that means to you.

Overall, I would say that unless you are a bad tester and you think your scores significantly under-represent your actual language skills, I think it is always a good idea to include a test score when available and applicable. Both English and Korean test scores are, officially speaking, optional, but without them schools can assume the worst rather than the best. If you do choose not to submit them, or have no choice, be sure to make up for it in other ways, such as essays and recommendations.

Placement Exam

It’s raining so much here in Chuncheon!

On such a lovely day, what better thing to do than to sit inside and take a Korean placement test, right?

If it is your first time coming to Korea, or starting at a new language school, you may be curious about what this experience will be like.

I’ve now done it twice. The first time was at Yonsei’s 3-week summer program 2-years ago. The second time was obviously this afternoon at Kangwon National University. The two experiences were pretty similar, so I would guess you will experience something similar no matter where you go.

First of all, if you have never studied Korean before, or your study has been quite limited and you yourself think that you belong in the first beginner level of Korean, then you don’t have to sit the test. The test is only for people who want to start at a higher level. (This seems pretty logical, but people still worry if they have to sit the test.)

Next, the written tests are usually written from very basic stuff at the beginning to very difficult stuff at the end. Obviously a placement test should be able to show the teachers if a student is level 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc, so it should have a lot of different stuff on it. The nice thing though is that they put the stuff in order. (Both Yonsei and KNU did this, and I think it is pretty standard.) What this means is that you can start at the beginning, do as many questions as you can, and then just stop when you stop understanding. (You might want to look at the next few pages/questions to make sure.) I feel like the Yonsei test was much longer than the KNU one, but that might just be because I was less proficient, so there was more I left unfinished. In any case, the length of the test will probably vary depending on the school, but you will probably be able to stop and/or leave when you finish what you can.

As for the types of questions asked… Yonsei was too long ago to remember exactly. KNU started with basic particles, conjugations, some fill in the blank, some multiple choice, and at the end some harder reading comprehension. The KNU test also had a free writing self introduction section on the back. Some people who only answered the first few pages didn’t notice this section, so make sure you do at least flip through the whole test to see if you’re missing anything else you can do. (Self introductions are usually one of the first things you learn, so write what you can!)

Both Yonsei and KNU also had an interview part to the test. At Yonsei we took turns going outside in the middle of doing the written test. At KNU we went for the interview after finishing as much as we could of the written test. Listen to the teachers’ instructions to find out how that works. The questions will vary depending on the interviewer. They may ask you to introduce yourself (again) and work off that. If you speak well the questions will be harder. If you are more of a beginner they may ask more simple things. At Yonsei, I remember the interviewer asking me to name things in the room around me, or what my plans were for the weekend. Here at KNU it was more like a regular conversation.

In the end just remember that this is just a placement test. There is no pass or fail. There is no shame in not understanding some (or many) questions. Don’t be nervous and do your best.

Also, if you feel like you really weren’t yourself and didn’t place as highly as you should, or the opposite, if you placed more highly than you think you should, there will usually be a period of time in the beginning where they will allow you to change. Speak up within the first day or two of class, and remember that the teachers will ultimately have the final say about it.

As someone who has jumped around from school to school both in Japanese and in Korean, I can say that repeating some information is not a bad thing if it means not skipping other important information. A strong foundation is really important for language learning. It is possible that you will find yourself repeating some information at the beginning of your class, but it is likely that you will find newer, harder things as it progresses. Before asking to switch to a higher class, take a look through your textbook and see what you might be missing.

Good luck!