KGSP Application: Additional Information & Diplomas

In earlier posts I explained in great detail how I applied for the scholarship and how I filled out the application and submitted my documents. But as that was a while ago I will link to those posts here:

Application Tips #1

Application Tips #2

Someone asked on my other post about original copies of language test score reports. As a native speaker of English, I do not have direct experience with English language proficiency tests (IELTS or TOEFL). From what I have seen, it looks like they send additional score reports directly to the institution (not to you). You can request these score reports from them and they will send them to the Embassy or University directly.


For IELTS you should make the request from the test center that administered your test. For TOEFL, please check with the organization in your country to find out where to make requests. Also, as your embassy probably does not have a TOEFL reporting code, just make sure you fill in the complete address and name of the embassy (full instructions are on page 2 of the TOEFL link above).

If your application hasn’t been sent yet when you request the score report, I would send an email to the Embassy or University so that they can expect to receive the score report and your application later. (Might not be necessary, but it doesn’t hurt.)

For TOPIK, you can go to the website of the TOPIK organization in your country (where you took the test). In the case of test takers in Korea, you just log into your account and make the request there. Then you’ll be able to download a PDF file and print it out yourself. In the upper corner it includes a verification number that the people reading your application can use to check that it is indeed an official score report. The process may be the same in other countries, or you may have to request that they send you a physical piece of paper. (This is what I did in Japan, but that was also before they made the new test and new system, so it may have changed after that.) With TOPIK they were able to send it to me, so I just included the original score report with my application.

Also, an additional word about diplomas because NIIED doesn’t do much to warn people of this ahead of time (requesting diploma copies in Korea must be a lot easier than it is in other countries). First of all, if you have already graduated from university when you apply, make sure you include the most official looking proof of graduation you can get. I have talked about this in length before, but my Embassy was not satisfied with the letter from my university and requested that I send a “certificate form” of proof.

Ultimately, my university agreed to make a certificate for free, which they sent directly to the Embassy for me. I also requested an exact replica of my official diploma (which cost about $40 US) and had that notarized and Apostilled in the US (where I’m from). I still have that just in case.

BUT, what I really wanted to say is that the KGSP application is not the last time you will be asked for this document. When you officially enter your degree program, the university will request an original copy of your diploma (NIIED keeps the original copy of your application, and sends one of the copied versions to the universities. If you apply by a designated university, then they may not ask for your diploma again because they did have it in their possession when you applied. Check with them to make sure.) You may be able to ask NIIED to send their copy to the University, but if everyone tries to do this then they may stop doing it for anyone. If your university easily provides official copies, then it is best to get one or two extras.

Which brings me to the other reason you might need extra copies. Your visa. If you are starting your degree right away, without language study, then you will start with a D2 visa. You may need to submit a copy of your diploma when you apply in your home country, but you won’t need one again in Korea. If, however, you do the Korean language course then you will apply for a D4 visa in your home country, and you will need to change to a D2 visa when you start your degree program. And… well, you need to submit another proof of graduation at this time. Fun, right?

So, the moral of this story is while you are requesting diplomas or Apostilling diploma copies for your application, request a couple more for later.

If you have any other questions read the two posts above first, and if you still have questions, leave them in the comments. I’m happy to answer what I can. But do remember the process will be slightly different depending on where you are and how you apply.

After the 38th TOPIK

So because of my scholarship I had to take the TOPIK one more time this past Sunday. (KGSP/NIIED pays, so they get to decide who has to take it. Of course NIIED is also in charge of the test, so they’re paying themselves…?)

Anyway, I hope that everyone who took it on Sunday will get the score they are hoping for (or better)!

From this test NIIED has stopped posting the questions/answers online, so I have no idea how it went. Personally speaking, listening was easier than last time, reading was similar, and writing… Writing was way out of left field…

In general, I don’t have a problem with the fact that they have stopped posting the tests. Someone elsewhere commented that “NIIED is making it harder for us to study Korean (by not posting the tests),” but I disagree with that… mostly. Studying Korean is very different from studying TOPIK. But even for the TOPIK, one of the most important things you can do is keep up with current events and read the newspaper. The TOPIK questions come from all kinds of different subjects, so you need to get used to reading a variety of things. Depending on your level that may mean choosing short articles and picking them apart, or using a reading textbook, or it may mean just reading the news on a regular basis. Of course watching the news, and listening to online radio is also good practice for listening.

In any case, studying old TOPIK tests is not going to make you significantly better at Korean, and that alone is only going to make you marginally better at TOPIK. In as much as it helps you understand the question types it is useful, but the content is totally different every time.

But writing is a little different.

As I detailed before, the reading and listening question types are always the same format. But judging from this latest test, they are still trying out different types of writing questions.

51 and 52 were not very new. 51 was a letter in response to a wedding invitation (as usual in the -sumnida form), and 52 was a short writing about meals and eating habits. Content-wise they were both pretty simple.

Question 53 and 54 were very different from what we’ve seen so far in the new test.

For Question 53, it has mostly been explanations from a chart. Analyzing a graph, comparing two things, etc. But this time, they gave details for an event (a singing contest/event) and asked us to introduce it as if we had gone to this event. On the one hand, the content was quite a bit easier than some of the #53’s in the past. On the other hand, it is hard to know exactly what they expect out of that question. Should we include our impressions after (supposedly) attending this (fake) event? In previous #53’s, you could mostly fill 200-300 characters just with information from the chart, but this time that was harder. (There was still a chart that included the date, place, who we went with, what we saw, and the purpose of the event).

Question 54 was also structured differently from the past tests. Usually they have given a short paragraph explaining a situation or issue. Then they’ve included 3-4 questions to answer in the essay. This time the questions were all in the paragraph (write at least 2 problems associated with internet comment boards, and possible solutions), and the place that usually had questions included examples of each (violent language in comments is one problem, and forcing people to post using their real name is one solution).

Overall, I have a feeling that both questions actually got much easier than anything that we have seen so far, but the problem is that now we can’t see the “perfect” answer, so it is harder to know what exactly is expected. For example, in 53 I included my (imaginary) impressions of watching the event, but I don’t know if that’s what they wanted. In 54, I used the two things they gave as examples, but I don’t know if they wanted us to think of two different things…

They may have decided that they had set the bar too high before, and actually are trying to make the writing section easier. Or it may be a fluke. Or I may have totally misinterpretted the questions. Only time will tell.

I guess I just have to wait and see how it is reflected in the score…

The 39th and 40th tests (March 21/22 and April 25/26) will both be available abroad, as well as in Korea, so keep an eye out for registration info if you are not in Korea. (From briefly looking at the lists of sites I think that it will not be available in every country on every international testing date, so please check with the TOPIK website or your local office in charge of TOPIK to find out when it will be available in your country.)

Good luck again to everyone now waiting for a score, and for those of you planning to take it some other time this year!

Health Exams ~ Part 2

So, once you’ve dealt with whatever hassle you should go through to complete the required health exam in your own country, you get to do it all again when you get to Korea.

The way NIIED words it in the official information, it sounds a little like you will do the exam at orientation, but that’s not perfectly true. It probably won’t be at the NIIED orientation in any case.

Each language institute or graduate school will arrange for you to do the exam either at school, or somewhere nearby.

KNU invited the official health exam people onto campus to check everyone in our classroom building.

Aside from the waiting before hand, it was pretty quick. We…

  • Peed in a cup
  • Read an eye chart
  • Got on a scale (that also magically measured height)
  • Had our blood pressure taken
  • Read a test for color blindness
  • Had blood drawn
  • Had a chest xray (without having to disrobe at all… but the image was displayed on a screen for all to see… which reminds me, I noticed that with the girl ahead of me, but forgot to look at my own insides…)

And then it was done. Pretty simple, and non-invasive.

One other thing about the medical check in your own country – you should keep an electronic or a physical copy of it for your own records. I highly recommend sending a scanned copy to them by email before you send the original copy, and in that case you would have an electronic copy, but if you can’t do that, try to make a photocopy.

If you are planning to live in a dormitory at your school (and if you are doing the language year you have to live in the dormitory), they will require you to submit a health examination before you enter. If you tell them that you have already submitted a health exam to NIIED, then it is likely they will waive the requirement to get another health exam, but just in case, it is good to have a copy of your health exam results to show to them.