Advanced HSK on April 18,2009

Here's my feelings:

I was actually surprised by how manageable this was from an understanding the language point of view, but unfortunately the length of the passages and the difficulty in having to remember all the facts and figures overall made this section quite hard.
The first piece was about decorating rooms with different colors, and how different colors can have various influences on mood and behavior for different age groups. It went through about five or six colors and described at length their effects on different people. Remembering which color had which effect, and what color was suitable for what purpose was a royal pain in the ass.
One of the other extracts was about 冰燃料.

As usual, the time was nowhere near sufficient to get through this properly. I actually found the material itself to be quite challenging this time, which was a bit of a disappointment given that I consider reading to be one of my stronger areas. This time I tried the strategy of just scanning for the answers, and ignoring the irrelevant parts of the passages, but the passages were quite long, and the time was insufficient to get through more than about half of the questions even this way.

This was pretty much as I expected, and I think I did reasonably well on this section overall. The last part where you have to write characters I found more challenging than usual, not because I wasn't sure how to write the required character, but because I wasn't even sure which character to write for several of them.

This is undoubtedly my strongest area, and I think I probably did quite well on this.
The topic was 细节决定成败. The question gave two examples, the first being of a girl who wanted to take a taxi, and from two that were in front of her, she chose one because it was cleaner. The second example was of several people going for a job interview, but the girl who got the job got it because she said 谢谢 on her way out. The question asked to discuss your opinion on these two girl's 做法.

The 朗读 passage I thought was ridiculously easy, because the language and vocabulary was very simple, but unfortunately I don't think I did myself justice at all on this section. Whilst it wasn't terrible, given how easy the passage was, I really feel I should have done a lot better.
The questions this time were along the lines of 1) describe your ideal living environment, and 2) does you country have a 老龄化 problem, and if so, what can be done to combat it? If not, what measures can be taken to prevent 老龄化 becoming a problem?
The speaking is definitely my weakest area, and I'm not at all satisfied with my performance on this section. The problem I have is not so much of language, but when I get nervous under the exam conditions, I find it very difficult to put forth a fluent and coherent speech.

Overall, I fell I could have done better on this exam, although I recognize that probably most people come out of HSKs feeling this way. Now I just guess I have to wait a couple of months or however long it is to see if I can get that elusive Advanced HSK certificate.