Are you planning to take the TOPIK?
If you are already somewhat familiar with learning Korean or studying in Korea as a foreigner, you may have heard the word TOPIK mentioned a few times.
But what is TOPIK, exactly? What does it stand for? And is this Korean Test something you should care about?
In this article, we will go over the TOPIK exam with you!
- 1 What is TOPIK?
- 2 TOPIK Levels
- 3 How long is the TOPIK exam?
- 4 What is a good score on the TOPIK?
- 5 How do you register for TOPIK?
- 6 TOPIK Test Dates
- 7 TOPIK Price
- 8 How to prepare for the TOPIK test?
- 9 What are the best books to prepare for TOPIK?
- 10 Should you take TOPIK?
What is TOPIK?
TOPIK stands for “Test of Proficiency in Korean.”
This Korean language test is offered multiple times a year for non-native speakers of Korean to test their Korean language skills, whatever their level and experience may be.
TOPIK is administered by the National Institute for International Education, or NIIED for short, a branch of the South Korean Ministry of Education.
Korean Proficiency Test
TOPIK is a Korean proficiency test and is especially popular among foreigners wishing to find professional employment in companies in Korea, foreigners who want a residency visa in Korea, bring the family to Korea, and for other equivalent reasons.
This Korean Test measures proficiency in the Korean Language, so foreigners or Korean language learners who need to validate their proficiency in the language may want to consider taking this test.
If you’re an international student, you can even use your TOPIK grades to get into a university in South Korea.
The old format of the TOPIK had three different levels of TOPIK scores: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The Korean test consisted of four sections: grammar and vocabulary, listening, reading, and writing. This was the format of TOPIK until 2014.
A new format has been in effect from the 35th TOPIK test onward, with the exam conducted in July 2014. There are now only two levels (TOPIK I and TOPIK II) and six sublevels (TOPIK Level 1 – 6). The new TOPIK Levels have different coverages. You are evaluated based on the number of points earned.
After the test, you will receive a level between 1 and 6 based on your total score on the test.
TOPIK I the test consists of only reading and listening. To reach a higher level in TOPIK I, you are expected to understand simple daily conversations (both formal and informal), formulate simple sentences, and be able to manage some public tasks in your everyday life in Korean.
TOPIK Level 1
TOPIK Level 1 is under TOPIK I. This is the equivalent of “beginner” in the old format. The pass mark for this level is over 80 points. To pass this level, you should be capable of understanding and writing basic sentences using around 800 words.
TOPIK Level 2
TOPIK Level 2 is also under TOPIK I. At this level, you are expected to be able to carry out simple conversations in person or over the phone and be able to ask for directions or instructions. To pass this level, you need around 140 points.
To get the highest score in TOPIK II, you are expected to be at a level where you can function in Korean in professional tasks and research environments, comprehend a wide range of ideas and expressions, and be able to understand complex topics such as economics, politics, or issues related to the professional field.
TOPIK Level 3
TOPIK Level 3 is under TOPIK II. TOPIK level 3 until 6 is the equivalent of “advanced” to “intermediate” in the old format. The passing mark for this sublevel is 120 points.
At this level, you are expected to be able to socialize without difficulty, use public facilities, and use spoken and written language correctly.
TOPIK Level 4
TOPIK Level 4 is under TOPIK II. To pass this, you should have a score of over 150 points. At this higher level, you are expected to understand basic news reports and newspapers. You should also be able to use the language to carry out some form of work.
TOPIK Level 5
TOPIK Level 5 is under TOPIK II. Under this level, you should be able to use Korean for various complex scenarios like research and other professional tasks. The passing mark is over 190 points.
TOPIK Level 6
TOPIK Level 6 is under TOPIK II. The passing mark for this level is over 230 points. Apart from being able to use the language for a variety of complex scenarios like in Level 5, passers should have no difficulty in carrying out their professional and daily tasks or communicating meaning.
How long is the TOPIK exam?
TOPIK I lasts for approximately two hours, while TOPIK II, with the writing portion, takes three hours to complete.
Excluding the writing portion, TOPIK II is fully a multiple-choice test.
What is a good score on the TOPIK?
In TOPIK 1, you’ll need 140 points to receive level two in the exam. For TOPIK 2, you’ll need at least 230 to achieve the highest level. Below, we’ll tell you more about the recommended scores that you must reach to pass the different levels.
TOPIK 1 Score
This is equivalent to the beginner level in the old format.
Each segment of the exam is worth 100 points. You need to achieve over 80 points in your test results to pass the exam. You’ll need 140 points in your results to receive level two in the exam.
TOPIK 2 Score
The second level covers intermediate and advanced levels in the old format.
You need to achieve at least 120 points in your results to pass TOPIK II. To achieve the highest level in the exam, you should get at least 230 points on your results.
How do you register for TOPIK?
If you are in Korea at the time of registering, you can do so at the official site for the exam, where you will also get to choose the location of the exam based on availability.
Make sure you check out the official site links regularly for the announcement official date of registration and the form needed.
The test fee can be paid with your debit or credit card, online bank transfer, or an offline direct bank transfer. You’ll also need to include a photo in your application (bring two passport-sized photos).
If you are in another country overseas, you should visit the local Korean embassies and Korean culture centers to register. Their websites should also show the official announcement on the registration date and the exam.
Whether in Korea or a different country overseas, TOPIK is always conducted in person. It is not possible to take the test online at this time.
It would take test takers around a few weeks from taking the exam to receive their grades. Test results announcements are usually through the TOPIK website.
Your score for each TOPIK test is valid for two years.
If you plan to take the TOPIK and use the Korean language test for enrollment, it is essential to schedule the exam based on when you need to have its scores in hand!
TOPIK Test Dates
For 2022, the Korean government has released several dates on when the registration will be. If you plan to take the test in your country, you should contact the Korean embassy or those who offer testing assistance services in your area for the exact registration dates and other information.
However, if you plan to take the test in Korea, here’s a sample of the test schedules:
Date of Examination – Registration
April – February 8,2022 – February 14, 2022
May – March 8, 2022 – March 14, 2022
July – May 24, 2022 – May 30, 2022
October – August 2, 2022 – August 8, 2022
November – September 6, 2022 – September 13, 2022
You can go to this site for the most updated test schedules.
The price will depend on where you’re going to take the test and at what level. In Korea, TOPIK I can cost around KRW40,000, while TOPIK II can cost you around KRW 55,000. You might want to visit affiliated institutions to get the registration fee for your country.
How to prepare for the TOPIK test?
Typically the preparation directly for TOPIK is self-study and practice. Of course, attending a Korean language class, in general, will always help improve your skill and proficiency.
Korean Immigration Integration Program (KIIP)
In South Korea, you can enroll in a language school or the KIIP (Korean immigration integration program).
KIIP is free to attend, but you will have to take a separate placement exam; most students first take the test and then register for the KIIP program using their average score to be assigned to the proper level.
So a full-fledged Korean language school may prove to be a better tool, although KIIP is not as intensive in its course load if you do not have the time to enroll in a language school.
Online Language Course
For the other countries outside of Korea, you may seek out a physical class, or you may utilize many resources online to practice! For example, our 90 Day Korean Membership program can be of great help while preparing to take TOPIK.
The 90 Day Korean Membership program is not a prep course for the TOPIK test, but you can learn the fundamentals you’ll need to know for TOPIK. You can access the site wherever through a simple browser or by downloading our application.
You can learn Korean in a fun, easy, and stress-free way. This program is best for all levels, from beginners to intermediate or advanced learners.
Books and TOPIK Practice Tests
However, if you are looking to focus your studies specifically on TOPIK, your best bet is to search for books or a website with content dedicated to this exam. These items will cover the topics that you may come across while taking TOPIK.
A test book is a guide with mock exams based on the exact way the exam is constructed and will help you measure your preparedness for the exam.
Also, you may be able to find a site online with old examinations for you to print and try out; some of them are also based on actual exams! These items guarantee results.
What are the best books to prepare for TOPIK?
The test can be tricky and will test you on more academic items than what you’d need to know in your daily life. Hence, you may want to use some TOPIK-specific materials, books, and practice tests during your preparation for the test, even if you are already attending a Korean class.
TOPIK Practice Test
A TOPIK practice test can simulate an actual TOPIK test-taking experience. It’s best to look for sample examinations that are the most accurate representations of the genuine TOPIK exam.
You can study the old examinations (and their answers) here.
These books for TOPIK I and TOPIK II are some of the most comprehensive books with great content that you can find. In addition to books and a good TOPIK guide, you may want to listen to the Korean language as much as possible through as many different options possible, from dramas to news, to prepare for the test.
Should you take TOPIK?
It is up to you and your goals whether you want to take TOPIK! It is available for any Korean learner, even those living outside of Korea, to take. There are also multiple test dates, so the schedule is not an issue. More importantly, it’s also not that expensive.
So what do you have to lose if you take the exam, even if it’s just for once?
If you’re still considering taking this test of proficiency in Korean language, here’s a video to help you figure it out:
Should I take the TOPIK Korean Proficiency Test?
Why should you take TOPIK?
There are multiple reasons you should seriously consider taking TOPIK.
Firstly, a good TOPIK score may help you gain entry to study in a university in Korea. It may exempt you from taking other language classes before starting your studies. Additionally, once you are in university in South Korea, it is often mandatory to take the TOPIK before graduating.
Additionally, a certificate and a good score from TOPIK will also help you find a job in good Korean companies Korea.
As a bonus, getting a good TOPIK score will also give you points when you apply for a residency visa when you want to go and live in Korea!
When should you take TOPIK?
If you want to be serious about taking this proficiency test in Korean, you might want to wait until it is time to take it. The test can be pretty tricky and stressful, especially the listening portion. Perhaps you may not want to study hard for it to test yourself.
You can also check out NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION(NIIED) for more information on TOPIK.
Need to know more about Korean tests? You can read our article Korean Level Tests for more tips and tricks on taking Korean tests.
Now that you know what kind of a test TOPIK is, do you have a schedule to take it? Have you already tried taking TOPIK before, and were you glad about your score?
If you take the TOPIK soon, what is your motivation to take it? Let us know in the comments!