As long as I’ve been in school, I’ve suffered from pretty severe test anxiety. From midterms to pop-quizzes to standardized tests to entrance exams, nothing is too big or too small for me to spend the night before fighting to get some sleep. Although my biggest motivation in studying abroad at Ewha Womans University this fall through the Temple Exchange program was taking their well-known and renowned intensive Korean language program, I couldn’t help but toss and turn the night before the placement test.
Looking online, all the information on what to expect during the Ewha intensive Korean course placement was outdated or just flat out nonexistent. The more I searched, the more questions I added to my list.
While I would generally advise against preparing too intensely for a placement test (it’s meant to place you into the best level for you after all), as someone who struggles with anxiety, knowing what to expect helps me do my best.
So, without further adieu, here’s what went down during the Ewha Womans University Language Placement Exam:
When signing up for the intensive Korean language course, getting a spot is incredibly competitive, so prioritize this as the first course to sign up for during course registration. Even a couple of seconds makes a difference. Although it’s best to sign up for the level you think fits you, if you can snag a spot in a different level, grab it while you can— you can easily switch to the right one after the placement test!
At Ewha, the Korean language class levels are based on the TOPIK exam— a standardized test that Korean language learners take when applying for schools, scholarships, and jobs in Korea. It’s helpful to know your approximate TOPIK level ahead of time, and there are plenty of online practice tests to help you get a general idea of your proficiency level.
While I initially thought I would be placed into the TOPIK level three class, I was only able to secure a spot in the TOPIK level four class and decided to take the placement test to see if it was a good fit for me.
The placement tests take place on the first day of class. Logging into the Zoom meeting, the teachers were well prepared for a group of nervous wrecks and did a brief class introduction and gave us a chance to ask questions before finally getting to the test. They were extremely encouraging and their kind words definitely helped ease the pre-exam nerves.
The actual test was conducted via Zoom using breakout rooms and a Naver form (Korea’s equivalent of a Google form). The written questions started off very simple and open ended, like what your motivation for taking this class is, where you’re from, what your major is, etc.
The rest of the written test was a combination of reading and response with questions getting progressively more complicated, ending in two short essays. If you are in a lower level, I heard that the essays are a lot shorter or non-existent.
Then following the written test was a short “interview”— I use quotations here because that is a very broad description of what came next. During the interview, the professor pulled up the written exam and went over the answers to provide some general feedback. While I was expecting the professor to ask me open-ended questions to test my speaking abilities, it was mostly just chit-chat and delivering the results of my written test. As long as the professor could tell that the student’s listening comprehension and speaking skills were decent, the interviews went on without a hitch. As I exited the test Zoom meeting, I found myself thinking, “that was it?”
Overall, I thought the placement test was adequately challenging but still manageable. I didn’t find myself getting overwhelmed in the slightest. I even surprised myself by placing into the TOPIK level four class, one level higher than what I expected. Now, with one week of class behind me, I can confidently say that the placement test put me right where I belong.