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The TOPIK Test: Tips for Getting a High Score


TOPIK is the most popular Korean language proficiency test in the world. For those of you who don’t know much about the TOPIK Korean exam, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll provide you with tons of relevant and practical information about the test. If you’ve already decided to take the exam, you should stick around too. We’re going to give you lots of tips on how to get a high score on the TOPIK, and provide you with many free Korean study materials.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Korean Table of Contents
  1. Korean Proficiency Tests
  2. Let’s Learn More About TOPIK
  3. A Look Inside the TOPIK Korean Test
  4. Tips for Your TOPIK Exam Practice
  5. Get Ready for TOPIK with KoreanClass101

1. Korean Proficiency Tests 

Let’s take a look at what Korean proficiency tests are available to Korean-learners. In Korea, there are two kinds of Korean language tests, which are: TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) and KLPT (Korean Language Proficiency Test). We’re going to focus only on TOPIK in this article, but it’s important to compare these two tests so you know which one is better-suited for you.

1) TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) 

  • TOPIK stands for “Test of Proficiency in Korean
  • The Korean Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation 9KICE conducts these tests 
  • The test is evaluated in five main categories, which are:
    • Vocabulary
    • Grammar
    • Writing
    • Listening
    • Reading
  • TOPIK offers two different tests, which are:
    • S-TOPIK (Standard Korean)
    • B-TOPIK (Business Korean) 
  • TOPIK testing takes place twice per year (in April and September)

2) KLPT (Korean Language Proficiency Test)

  • The Korean Language Society conducts these tests 
  • The test is evaluated in five categories, which are:
    • Listening 
    • Vocabulary
    • Grammar
    • Reading
    • Conversation 
  • KLPT offers two different tests, which are:
    • KLPT
    • B-KLPT (Beginners’ KLPT) 

2. Let’s Learn More About TOPIK

Language Skills

Foreigners may take TOPIK tests for various reasons. If you’re planning to stay in Korea for an extended period of time, you should consider obtaining the highest TOPIK level. There are two levels for TOPIK: TOPIK I (the basic level test) and TOPIK II (the combination of intermediate and advanced levels). The evaluation is based on the total number of points earned.

1) What Can You Do with Your TOPIK Scores?

Test-takers register for the TOPIK exam for various reasons:

  • To enter a Korean university as a foreigner
  • To obtain a work visa for a company in Korea
  • To obtain a marriage-based immigrant visa
  • To apply for permanent residency

As you can see, one’s TOPIK results can have many practical benefits and uses! 

2) TOPIK Levels & Their Passing Scores

TOPIK I has two levels, which are Level 1 and Level 2. In order to pass Level 1, you need to attain 80 points; for Level 2, you need to attain 140 points. 

As for TOPIK II, there are four levels: Level 3, Level 4, Level 5, and Level 6. The passing marks are 120 points, 150 points, 190 points, and 230 points, respectively.

3) What Does the Exam Structure Look Like?

TOPIK I (Levels 1-2)Listening40 min301001st session
Reading60 min40100
TOPIK II(Levels 3-6)Listening60 min501001st session
Writing50 min4100
Reading70 min501002nd session

4) How to Register for the TOPIK Test

If you reside in Korea, you can register for the test online through the official TOPIK website. The registration fee costs 35,000 KRW for TOPIK I (Levels 1 and 2) and 40,000 KRW for TOPIK II (Levels 3-6). You can pay with your debit or credit card, through online banking, or using a direct bank transfer.

If you’re from another country, you can register for the test at the Korean embassies or Korean culture centers. For registration, you’ll be required to bring two passport-size photographs and the registration fee. Note that the fee varies from country to country, so it’s important to research in advance.

A Man Listening to a TOPIK Listening Test.

3. A Look Inside the TOPIK Korean Test

Now that you know how to register, what the TOPIK tests you on, and other essential information, let’s go over what you can expect from each portion of the test.  

1- Introduction to the TOPIK Listening Section 

What is the TOPIK listening section like, and how can you score higher marks here?

1. What Type of Tasks?

These are some sample questions that you can expect to see in the TOPIK listening test. 

  • Listen to the audio and choose the appropriate picture (2 points)
  • Listen to the dialogue and choose what the speaker (e.g. woman) is going to do next (2 points)
  • Listen to the audio and choose the appropriate topic (2 points) 
  • Choose the answer that matches with the content of the dialogue (2 points) 

2. Tip for a Higher Score

Read the Question and Answers First

As soon as you open the test book, read through the questions and answers. This way, you’ll have a sense of what kind of audio will be played, and if you understand the questions and answers, it will be easier for you to spot the correct answer right away. While the audio is being played, you won’t have enough time to think and go through each answer.

3. Questions from the Past TOPIK Exams

Here are some example questions from past TOPIK exams so you can get a good idea of what to expect. 

1. TOPIK 60 I – listening exercise

2. TOPIK 60 II – listening exercise

3. TOPIK 60 I – listening exercise

4. TOPIK 60 II – listening exercise

Want to have fun while practicing your listening? Check out these pages on KoreanClass101.com:

A lLady Studying Korean on the Bus

2- Introduction to the TOPIK Reading Section

Now, let’s take a look at the TOPIK reading section and how you can ace this portion of the test. 

1. What Type of Tasks?

These are some sample questions that you can expect to see in the TOPIK reading test. 

  • Read the sentence and choose the topic (2 points)
  • Read the sentences and choose the appropriate word that goes inside the () (2 points)
  • Read the information (e.g. pamphlet) and choose the information that is not correct (3 points)
  • Read the sentence and choose the answer that matches with the topic (3 points)
  • Read the paragraph and choose the appropriate word that goes inside the () (2~3 points)
  • Read 4 sentences and choose the answer that is chronologically arranged (2~3 points)

2. Tip for a Higher Score

Try to Make Sense out of the Words You Know 

If you struggle to understand Korean phrases, it’s normal to feel stressed. But don’t let your stress take over. If the section you’re reading is too long and you can’t understand what’s written, just look for words you do understand and try to make sense out of them. Don’t forget to read the questions and multiple choices so that when you’re reading, you can remind yourself about what information to look for.

3. Questions from the Past TOPIK Exams

1) TOPIK 60

무엇에 대한 이야기입니까? <보기>와 같이 알맞은 것을 고르십시오. (각 2점)
mueose daehan iyagiimnikka? wa gachi almajeun geoseul goreusipsio. (gak 2jeom)
“What is the topic about? Select the answer that appropriately describes . (2 points per question)”

바람이 붑니다. 시원합니다.
barami bumnida. Siwonhamnida.
“The wind is blowing. It is cool.”

① 과일 ② 사람 ③ 날씨 ④ 얼굴
gwail saram nalssieolgul
① “fruit” ② “human” ③ “weather” ④ “face”
저는 일본에서 왔습니다. 친구는 미국에서 왔습니다.
jeoneun ilboneseo watseumnida. chinguneun migugeseo watseumnida.
“I come from Japan. My friend comes from America.”

① 음식 ② 나라 ③ 요일 ④ 선물
eumsik nara yoil seonmul
① “food” ② “country” ③ “day” ④ “gift”
2) TOPIK 47

다음의 내용과 같은 것을 고르십시오.
daeumui naeyonggwa gateun geoseul goreusipsio.
“Select the answer that has the same context as the sentences.”

저는 오늘 이사를 했습니다. 친구가 도와줘서 이사가 금방 끝났습니다.
jeoneun oneul isareul haetseumnida. chinguga dowajwoseo isaga geumbang kkeunnatseumnida.
“I moved in today. I could finish the moving-in quickly because a friend helped me out.”

새집에서 친구와 저녁을 먹었습니다.
saejibeseo chinguwa jeonyeogeul meogeotseumnida.
“I had dinner with a friend at a new house.”

① 친구가 이사를 했습니다. 
chinguga isareul haetseumnida.
① “A friend moved in.”

② 제가 친구를 도와줬습니다. 
jega chingureul dowajwotseumnida.
② “I helped a friend moving.”

③ 지난주에 이사를 했습니다. 
jinanjue isareul haetseumnida.
③ “I moved to a new place last week.”

④ 이사한 집에서 식사를 했습니다.
isahan jibeseo siksareul haetseumnida.
④ “I ate some dishes at a new house.”

3) TOPIK 37

다음을 읽고 물음에 답하십시오.
daeumeul ilgo mureume dapasipsio.
“Read the passage below and answer the questions.”

저는 자기 전에 하루를 정리하면서 메모를 합니다.
jeoneun jagi jeone harureul jeongnihamyeonseo memoreul hamnida.
“I summarize what I did each day by writing them down in a note.”

먼저 오늘 일어난 일 중에서 잘 한 일 세 가지를 씁니다.
meonjeo oneul ireonan il jungeseo jal han il se gajireul sseumnida.
“Firstly, I write down three things that I did well.” 

그렇게 하면 힘든 하루를 조금 잊을수 있습니다.
geureoke hamyeon himdeun harureul jogeum ijeulsu itseumnida.
“If I do so, I can forget about the hard times of the day.”

그 다음에는 내일 할 일을 ( ㉠ ). 그러면 중요한 일을 잊어버리지 않아서 좋습니다.
geu daeumeneun naeil hal ireul ( ㉠ ). geureomyeon jungyohan ireul ijeobeoriji anaseo joseumnida.
“Next, I would (㉠) for things to do tomorrow. If I do this, I won’t forget about the important things, so it’s good.” 

이렇게 메모를 하면 생각만 할 때보다 하루 하루를 훨씬 더 잘 정리할 수 있습니다.
ireoke memoreul hamyeon saenggangman hal ttaeboda haru harureul hwolssin deo jal jeongnihal su itseumnida.
“If you take notes like this, you can organize your day much better than you think.”

Q. ㉠에 들어갈 알맞은 말을 고르십시오.(2점)
Q. ㉠e deureogal almajeun mareul goreusipsio.(2jeom)
Q. Please choose the appropriate answer for ㉠. (2 points)

① 적어 봅니다
jeogeo bomnida
① “write down”

② 적게 됩니다
jeokge doemnida
② “being written down”

③ 적을까 합니다
jeogeulkka hamnida
③ “maybe write down”

④ 적을 것 같습니다
jeogeul geot gatseumnida
④ “might write down”

Q. 이 글의 내용과 같은 것을 고르십시오.(3점)
Q. i geurui naeyonggwa gateun geoseul goreusipsio.(3jeom)
Q. Choose the answer that has the same meaning as the written context. (3 points)

① 하루의 잘못한 일을 써서 정리합니다.
haruui jalmothan ireul sseoseo jeongnihamnida.
① “Summarize things that the author did wrong.”

② 아침에 일어나서 오늘 할 일을 씁니다.
achime ireonaseo oneul hal ireul sseumnida.
② “Write down things to do for the day in the morning.”

③ 잊어버린 일들은 자기 전에 메모합니다.
ijeobeorin ildeureun jagi jeone memohamnida.
③ “Write down things that the author forgot in a note.”

④ 메모를 하면서 하루의 일을 생각합니다.
memoreul hamyeonseo haruui ireul saenggakamnida.
④ “The author thinks about the day as he/she takes notes.”

It’s important to practice reading tests from the official TOPIK website. That way, you can get your hands on real tests and get a good idea of what the TOPIK reading section will be like. 

However, it’s also important to have fun while practicing your Korean skills. For a fun learning experience, why not check out the pages below? These are great for practicing your reading!

Three Students Taking a TOPIK Writing Exam

3- Introduction to the TOPIK Writing Section

Let’s take a look at the TOPIK writing section now. 

1. What Type of Tasks?

These are some sample questions that you can expect to see in the TOPIK writing test.

  • Listen to the conversation and choose the appropriate answer from the multiple choices (3~4 points)
  • Listen to the conversation and choose the location of the two speakers (3~4 points)
  • Listen to the conversation and choose the topic of the conversation (3~4 points)
  • Listen to the conversation and choose the right picture (4 points)
  • Listen and choose the answer that describes the situation (3 points)

2. Tips for a Higher Score

Read the Question Carefully

Before you do anything, make sure you know exactly what they expect you to write. Without understanding the question, you’ll end up writing answers that don’t relate to the question.

Think About What You Want to Say Before Writing 

When you begin composing your written answer, make sure that you outline your thoughts and ideas first, and only write about things you know and are familiar with.

Cross-Check Your Answer with the Question

Before moving forward, make sure that the answer you wrote matches up with the question, and that you’ve answered all of the questions.

3. Questions from the Past TOPIK Exams

1) TOPIK 26 
여러분은 “어디에서 살고 싶습니까? 왜 그곳에서 살고 싶습니까?” 그곳에 살면서 무엇을 하고 싶습니까? 여러분이 살고 싶은 곳에 대해서 쓰십시오.

yeoreobuneun “eodieseo salgo sipseumnikka? wae geugoseseo salgo sipseumnikka?” geugose salmyeonseo mueoseul hago sipseumnikka? yeoreobuni salgo sipeun gose daehaeseo sseusipsio.

“Where do you want to live? Why do you want to live in that place? What do you want to do while living there? Write about the place you want to live.”
2) TOPIK 29
여러분은 ¹토요일, 일요일에 보통 무엇을 합니까? ²어디에서 합니까? “누구하고 같이 합니까?” 여러분의 주말 이야기를 쓰십시오.

yeoreobuneun ¹toyoil, illyoire botong mueoseul hamnikka? ²eodieseo hamnikka? “nuguhago gachi hamnikka?” yeoreobunui jumal iyagireul sseusipsio.

“What do you normally do on Saturdays and Sundays? Where do you do it? With whom? Write down stories about your weekends.”
3) TOPIK 31
여러분은 ¹봄, 여름, 가을, 겨울 중 어느 계절을 좋아합니까? “그 계절은 어떻습니까?” 그 계절에는 보통 어디에 갑니까? *거기에서 무엇을 합니까? 여러분이 좋아하는 계절과 그 계절에 가는 곳에 대해 쓰십시오.

yeoreobuneun ¹bom, yeoreum, gaeul, gyeoul jung eoneu gyejeoreul joahamnikka? “geu gyejeoreun eotteoseumnikka?” geu gyejeoreneun botong eodie gamnikka? *geogieseo mueoseul hamnikka? yeoreobuni joahaneun gyejeolgwa geu gyejeore ganeun gose daehae sseusipsio.

“Among spring, summer, fall, and winter, which season do you like the most? What do you think about the season? Do you go anywhere special during that season? Write about your favorite season and the places that you go to during the season.”
4) TOPIK 34 
여러분은 ¹함께 여행하고 싶은 사람이 누구입니까? “왜 그 사람과 여행하고 싶습니까?” 그 사람과 함께 여행을 가서 무엇을 하고 싶습니까? 여러분이 함께 여행하고 싶은 사람에 대해서 쓰십시오.

yeoreobuneun ¹hamkke yeohaenghago sipeun sarami nuguimnikka? “wae geu saramgwa yeohaenghago sipseumnikka?” geu saramgwa hamkke yeohaengeul gaseo mueoseul hago sipseumnikka? yeoreobuni hamkke yeohaenghago sipeun sarame daehaeseo sseusipsio.

“Who do you want to travel with? Why do you want to travel with that person? What do you want to do with that person during the trip? Write about your ideal trip with that person.”

In order to achieve a good score for the TOPIK writing section, it’s important to practice your reading and writing together. Check out the pages below to practice your writing skills. 

4- Wait… Is There a Speaking Section?

TOPIK does not test your speaking skills. However, if you want to practice your speaking skills, we recommend that you have a look at the pages below. 

How to Improve Your Speaking Skills – Learn Korean sentences on how to improve your speaking skills

Secret Tips on How to Pass the TOPIK Exam

4. Tips for Your TOPIK Exam Practice

1) Study at a Korean Language School

Studying at a Korean language school will certainly help you improve your Korean skills in no time. This is because you’ll be working on homework and assignments every day, and everyone you meet in the class will have the same goal as you: to be fluent in Korean. If you surround yourself with people who have similar goals, it will motivate you to study more, and you and your friends can help each other, too!

2) Don’t Know the Answer? Don’t Hesitate to Use the Cross Method

Most of the tests, depending on the TOPIK level you’re taking, are multiple choice. If you’re unsure of which answer to choose, try eliminating the answers you think are incorrect. In the end, you’re more likely to narrow down the correct answer.

3) Relax! 

The more you think about how much time is left, the more poorly you’ll do on the test. If you think that certain questions may take more time than the others, just set them aside and move onto the next question. You can always come back to them later.

4) Listen to Korean Dramas or Music in Your Spare Time

Studying only with books can be tiring and boring. Learning Korean should be fun, too. In your spare time, you can actually learn Korean by watching Korean dramas with subtitles or listening to Korean music to practice your listening skills. You can even challenge yourself by mimicking words or phrases you hear.

Someone Climbing the Ladder of Success

5. Get Ready for TOPIK with KoreanClass101

We hope you now have a better understanding of what to expect from the TOPIK test and how to increase your chances of getting a great score. Is there anything we didn’t cover here that you want to know about? Do you feel more prepared for the TOPIK? Let us know in the comments! 

KoreanClass101.com offers free lessons online, and our goal is to make sure that you achieve your goal. We want you to succeed in your language-learning, and we’re here to help. So why not register today and receive free online study materials? 

Remember that in order to score a high mark for the reading section, you need to know many Korean words and have a basic understanding of Korean grammar. Without knowing the various grammar structures, you won’t do very well in other sections, either.

Here’s another list of resources for you to advance your Korean skills:


You can also learn a new Korean word every day to keep your vocabulary skills sharp. Check out Korean Word of the Day for free subscription. 


  • Basic Korean Grammar – Learn some simple tricks to understand Korean grammar.
  • Introduction to Korean Grammar – Whether you want to refresh your skills or learn new grammar structures, check out this page to practice basic Korean grammar. 
  • Idioms and Phrases – Koreans use a lot of idioms and phrases that you don’t get to see in study books. Learn some commonly used idioms and phrases here. 
  • Cheat Sheet to Mastering Korean – If you’re studying Korean on your own, you must check this out. It has twelve lessons and teaches you how to master Korean.

That’s it for now. We hope you get a high score on the TOPIK test. Good luck! 

  1. Happy: 4 or more
  2. Laughing: 1-2
  3. Pointing or gesturing (like showing something off or teaching): 2-3
  4. Sad: 1-2
  5. Shocked (different levels, like mild to super shocked): 3
  6. Angry: 2-3
  7. Neutral: 2-3
  8. Thinking (wondering) + (deciding) = 2
  9. Holding a pen or a learning object: 1
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