Solving Topik Problems


How I solve the Topik Intermediate Listening problems

This post will be a little bit different than the others before it. Despite having 4 sections on the Topik intermediate, it is primarily a reading exam. The same holds true for the listening portion. It’s about 45% reading and 55% listening. While on other parts of the test you can usually guess correctly with what’s in front of you, it’s pretty impossible to do that with listening. So here is the advice I can give on the listening portion:

1.If you aren’t good at listening, then work on it.

Even though I’ve lived in Korea for over a year and hear Korean everyday, I got a 47% on the first listening test I took. I think it was a combination of not being able to read and listening and also not have ears adjusted for the listening. After a while, my ears adjusted just fine and I was able to hear most of the words.

2. Listen to all of the tracks from exam 17-33.

I’ve listened to all of them. It was definitely long and pretty boring, I admit, but I listened to them all. After while it became really easy to understand and I started to figure out what was expected of me.

3. Look up all the words you don’t know.

I already have all the words written down from question 10 like damage, avoid, accident, insurance, fire etc. I also about 20 or so words written down from number 27 and 28. I can usually understand the conversation, but I always get caught up on choosing the correct answer. Is he disagree with her nicely or adamantly? I couldn’t figure out which words meant what (because they love to use synonyms) so I decided to write them all down on a sheet of paper to study.

4. Pay close attention to the whole conversation.

For the first 20 questions, I like to pay very, very close attention to the conversation. I may read ahead to the next problem, but I definitely like to listen again because I usually start getting questions wrong after number 20. I also find that in the first half of the test they will use 2 or 3 of the answer choices in the conversation to throw off anyone who missed the one obscure words that determines which of the 3 answers in the conversation is the correct choice.

5. If you miss a question, move on.

I am guilty of trying to recall the information that I obviously didn’t hear in order to scurry and solve before the next, but I’ve decided to just move on. At the end of the day it’s only 3 or 4 points out of 100. It’s best to remain calm and move on to the next question. Trying to figure out what you missed will only waste time, cause you to miss the next question, thus causing even more panic.

6. If you have extra time, listen to the tracks again.

Download the tracks to your phone, ipod or whatever and listen to them when you have free time. It doesn’t matter that you’ve taken the exam, it only matters that you are exposing your ears to Korean words. Once your ears get used to hearing Korean that anxiety you feel when listening will dissipate. You will be able to more easily understand so you can relax and just worry about reading all the questions.

This is how I’ve managed to deal with (yes, deal) the Topik intermediate listening portion. Although I can’t stand having to do listening tracks, I’d be lying if I said that forcing myself to do them didn’t help me. It did. The Topik will be here in 3 days. I’m off to go study all the things I still don’t know. I’ll probably make one last blog post before the Topik. Good luck to those taking it on Sunday (or Saturday).




Solving Topik intermediate grammar/vocabulary questions

The grammar and vocabulary portion of the exam, like all other portions, is worth 100 points. Many people find that this is one of the easiest portions of the exam and it almost acts like a cushion for the overall exam grade. The same is true for me as well. Though as of late, my grammar/vocabulary score has been slowly slipping down due to not focusing so hard on it. In this installment I will talk about how I not only solve these questions but how to do so very quickly.

How I solve the ‘fill in the blank’ questions:

1. Read over the problem and take a skim of the answers.

2. Choose the correct answer.

That’s all you can do for these. You either understand the problem in front of you and at least 3 of the 4 answers or you don’t. There really isn’t any strategy to these. However, it is important to note that some they will put two likely answers here and only knowledge of the problems grammar will allude to the answer.

Topik 20회

Topik 20회

The foundation of your social life is_____________ promises well.

1. ordering

2. leaving

3. hiding

4. keeping/maintaining

All you have to know is the word 약속 and it’s obvious the answer is 4. 

Topik 20회

Topik 20회

This picture contains____________ from when I was a child.

1. habit

2. memory

3. plan

4. interest

The answer is obvious. If you don’t know the word 추억, you can deduce it down to number 2 as the answer.

Topik 20th grammar 3

Topik 20회

Since that thing is _____________finished, I’m not going to bother regretting it.

1. separately, privately

2. just, just in time

3. in advance

4. first

I’m not going to lie, I would probably slow down on this one. Korean adverbs confuse me at times. However number 1 and 4 just don’t make sense so they can be eliminated. Then I would worry if number 2 was translated correctly or not, but in the end, I’d choose number 3 as the answer. It is simply the best one.


How I solve the similar meaning problems:

These ones can be solved at lightening speed if you know a lot of Korean vocabulary words. In order to take the Topik Intermediate you should know at least 5000 words ranging from basic to low advanced.

1. Read the underlined part only. If you know the word, look at the answer choices and select immediately.

2. Read the underlined part. If you don’t know the word, read the whole problem to try and infer its meaning.

If you’ve done the practice exams from 17-33, you will notice the same vocabulary has a tendency to keep popping up so it’s best to take not of all of them.

Topik 24회

Topik 24회

The people who came to buy the tickets are standing in line so each person is waiting in order.

Number 3 and 4 don’t make sense for this problem at all so you can eliminate them. You are left with 1 and 2 and if you don’t know the meaning of 차례 it can be hard to decide. However, location doesn’t really make much sense so the answer has to be 순서(in order) number 2. Notice how they say the people are standing in a line. That points to the answer.

Topik 24회

Topik 24회

Through scientific discoveries the world has quickly changed and peoples lives have also become different.

The answer choices for this one is quite easy if you have the 500 Basic Korean Verbs book. The answer is number 4 which also means ‘to change’ in Korean.


How I solve the ‘choose the correct verb’ problems:

I used to get most of these questions wrong. Mostly due to the fact that I was rushing through them and not really paying attention. In order to get these questions right, you need to be able to visualize (is this the correct word?) how the verb would fit into the question.

1. Read the first problem and look at the answers.

2. Cross off two of the verbs. At least two of them can be crossed off, always.

3. Read the second question and then decide which verb fits both.

4. If you are unsure skim the last question to make sure. You need to find 2 fits and once you’ve found them you can be assured the answer is correct.

Topik 28th grammar 10

Topik 28회

A.What should we do with (him?) suddenly ____________ the company like that?

B.Whenever he__________on a vacation he dreams.(?)

C.My girlfriend that I love___________.

After reading number one you can cross 만나다 off the list. After reading number two you can cross 그만두다 off as it doesn’t make sense. So you are left with 다니다 and 떠나다. If you read over the final sentence it does not make sense with 다니다 so number 3 is the answer.

Topik 28회

Topik 28회

A. It’s dangerous so don’t___________ your hand.

B. I hate bitter tastes so I _________sugar in my coffee and then drink it.

C. You will probably need comfortable clothes so ________the clothes and come.

After reading the first one you can get rid of 타다 and 들다. You are left with 넣다 (put in) and 대다 (touch,supply, fix, do extremely). Both could work with the first one, but if you read number 2 대다 makes no sense so the answer is obviously number 1.

How I solve the ‘opposite meaning’ problems:

I solve these the exact same way I solve the ones with similar meaning.

Topik 30회

Topik 30회

That person often breaks his promises so he doesn’t have very many friends.

Number 1 and 4 can instantly be eliminated. 3 is a very good option, but it seems odd to not have friends since you postpone promises, so you have to assume the answer is 지키다 number 2. If you don’t know the word, try to use process of elimination.


How I solve grammar problems 14-18:

We are now entering the meat of the grammar/vocabulary portion of the exam. I highly recommend you buy and view (intensely) the Topik Essential Grammar 150 Intermediate book.

1. Read the first question and skim the answers.

2. Cross off the incorrect answers. There is always at least one obvious one, but usually two.

3. Decide which one of the remaining answers fits best.

4. If you don’t know the grammar from a problem…..look it up, write it down, remember it.

I played the game of trying to avoid looking up certain grammar points because I thought they weren’t important but I found out that I needed to know them or I would definitely be screwed. I’ve also come to realize that there are about  4 or 5 advanced grammar points that show up on the intermediate from time to time. I will also be reviewing those ones later because there have been times when they were they answers.

Topik 29회

Topik 29회

가: Why are there so many people in front of the city hall?

나: From today ____________be a world culture festival.

It’s difficult to translate this with the part missing however you can eliminate number 3, 2 and 4 all at once because if you know anything about grammar, you will know they make no sense at all. The answer is number 1.


Topik 29회

Topik 29회

가: Did you send all the invitations? Is there nothing for me to help with?

나: It’s okay. I went to the post office and ________________.

I will admit this one is a bit difficult. I had to look up the meanings of number 3 and 4. However, you can eliminate number 1 and 2 because they don’t make sense. When I did this practice exam, I chose number 3 as the answer because I didn’t know what number 4 meant. I looked up 기만 하면 되다 (all you have to do is)and realized number 4 is the answer. Adding that one to my grammar study sheet.

How I solve the ‘choose the incorrect/correct answer’ problem:

1. Read the directions. Sometimes it says choose the incorrect one, and sometimes it says choose the correct one. I initially assumed they were all for incorrect and I ended up with 5 wrong questions and minus 18 points.

2. Read over the sentences. I read them all. I take my time with this portion because I suck at these and I can’t afford to get them wrong.

3. Cross of the obviously incorrect answers. If you know your grammar 2 of the sentences will stand out as not being the correct answer.

4. Read over the remaining answers and try to figure out which one is correct.

Note: Many of these sentence types repeat over the exams. If you don’t know a grammar point, look it up. Currently I need to look up 어/아 오다/가다 and a couple others because they keep showing up and I still don’t know them. Also, the honorific sentences are always the same. There are about 6-7 honorific words you need to know like sleep, eat, take care of, see, be sick in order to select the non-honorifics.

Topik 27회

Topik 27회

1. The friend I used to play basketball with went to study abroad. Know the difference between 었/았던 and 던 and you’ll know this is correct.

2. After class finished (I) wrote the letter I will send to my little (sister). This is a modifier (I believe). You should know the difference between 보내는, 보낸 and 보낼.

3.  I took the cake I made (with my own hands) with me to my friends house. In this one it’s all about conjugation. 만들다 is conjugated into 만든 with modifying the following word.

4. The news that I heard today said that there will be rain in the afternoon. The problem with this one is tense. It’s wrong. So the incorrect answer is number 4.


Topik 27회

Topik 27회

1. Grandpa, have a cup of tea. 드세요 is an honorific for ‘have/eat’, so this is correct.

2. Mother, go inside and sleep. 주무세요 is the honorific for sleep, so this is correct.

3. Eunyoung, come and help Cheolsu. Notice she uses 아 which implies Eunyoung has a close relationship with the speaker however the ending makes no sense because it is informal and honorific at the same time. So, the answer is number 3.


How I solve problems 24-26:

I usually do quite well at these ones, but have been known to stumble on them. Like other portions of the exam, look up grammar you don’t recognize. I’ve noticed that some advanced grammar points will pop up in the last 6 or 7 questions of the exam from time to time.

1. Read up until the underlined point. If you know exactly what it means, read the answer and select.

2. read up until the underlined point. If you are unsure as to the meaning, read the second part of the problem and implement the process of elimination.

I’ve found it can be hit or miss with these ones at times for me. I can be on a roll getting them all right and then suddenly hit a snag so I try to spend a bit of time on the ones I am unsure about and not rush through to the writing portion.

Topik 32회

Topik 32회

가: Why didn’t you come to yesterdays meeting?

나: There was a meeting yesterday? I thought there was no meeting this week.

If you know what the underlined portion means, you can just ignore the rest. Just by looking at the underlined part you know the answer is number 1. They mean the exact same thing except 없다고 생각했다 is beginner’s grammar and 있는 줄 몰랐어요 is low intermediate.



Topik 32회

Topik 32회

가: It seems like you really like this place.

나: Of course. To me this place is like my hometown.

Again, if you are excellent at grammar, you can solve this one quite quickly if you read the underlined portion only. “like my hometown” is only similar to one other answer. The answer is number 3 “practically my hometown”. The old difference between this grammar, like others, is that one is beginner’s and the other is considered intermediate.


How I solve problem 27-30:

The grammar in these ones can be difficult for me at times. On most of the practice exams I did, I got a lot of these wrong not because I thought I knew the answer, but because I guessed the answer. Yes, guessed, I was so confident I could get these right I was guess. Despite recognizing them and knowing they where on my grammar study sheet, I couldn’t fully recall their meaning, so it’s best to review the hell out of your grammar.

1. Read the entire passage up until the blank space and then read the answers. You have read all of number 29 and 30 but I usually skip forward on 27-28.

2. Eliminate the incorrect answers and choose from the others.

These questions always have idioms and adverbs in it. I suck at adverbs and if you do too, I suggest looking all the ones you don’t know up. I also recommend looking up the 50 or so idioms that appear on the exam. I found the majority of them here, but if you just type them into a search engine the remaining ones should show up.

Topik 33회

Topik 33회

가: Did you see the _________ drama that started last week.

This one is a no-brainer. Even if you don’t know most of the words, 새로 is too common not to know. The answer is 새로 number 2.

가:(skip ahead to last line): And when I watch it Kim Mingi’s role ___________ better than I thought.

Number 2 and 4 can be insta-eliminated. They make absolutely no sense. I admit I chose number originally because I haven’t brushed up on number 1’s meaning but the answer is 1 “I saw that it suited him”.




Topik 33회

Topik 33회

You must read the entire paragraph in order to gain the full meaning for 29 and 30. Like all the final questions, these are the hardest ones on the writing portion. They all also include an idiom. About 46 of them (if you write all of them down) to be exact. The passage reads as follows:

Recently companies have been growing rapidly due to the low prices and various designs of clothing they produce. However, with growth, consumers dissatisfaction also grows. The government’s ___________ shows that this is because people are dissatisfied with the products quality as it fails to meet their expectations. These clothing companies must work hard to avoid the common criticism “_____________”.

Number 29 is very easy in this one. If you know what 의하다, 비하다, 관하다, and 대하다 mean, you can easily choose the correct answer. The answer is number 1 “according to the government’s survey” .

The firs time I did number 30 I got it wrong because I still hadn’t looked up the idioms, and planned to get them wrong, but after having looked them up the answer is obviously number 2 “you get what you pay for”.

So that’s how I solve the grammar and vocabulary portion of the exam. I will be adding a post on listening (hopefully) tomorrow so come back then.




Solving the writing problems 31-42

Sorry for the late posting for this one. I’ve been so busy with work and preparing for classes. 

Let’s jump right in to the writing portion of the exam. As you know the writing and grammar/vocabulary sections are combined into a 90 minute exam so you have about 45 minutes to dedicate to each section of the test. I know that many people employ different strategies to ensure they get this essay done, but I wanted to show people the plan I have for taking the Topik intermediate writing test.


How I solve the empty space multiple-choice problems:

This part of the exam is not difficult at all. However it can be for those who have not sufficiently prepared. Grammar should not be a reason for you to fail the Topik test as simply studying the 150 Essential Grammar for Topik Intermediate book will put you in the know for the test.

1. Read the first sentence and then the second and all of the answers carefully.

2. Note the tense and disqualify any that are in the incorrect tense.

3. Choose the correct answer from the remaining answers. One answer usually stands out as the best in these, but they can force you to stumble and select the incorrect one.

4. If there is grammar you don’t know in a form you haven’t learned make note of it because if it is the answer, there is a high likelihood it will show up again on another exam.

Topik 23회

Topik 23회

The answer to this one is quite easy right out of the gate. You see person A said they went to the mountain and the leaves were beautiful. Then B responds by saying “last week” and “I saw there were many people”. If you know the meaning of 3 and 4 you can cancel them out quite quickly. I admit I was stuck between 1 and 2 but went with 1 because it gives back ground information. I also noticed in number 2 it says “I went there and then…” which doesn’t make sense since he said he saw all the people with his own eyes at the mountain. The answer is number 1.

How I solve the similar meaning problems:

1. Always make sure to read the proceding phase to completion. I’ve caught myself being on a “roll” and gotten quite a few of these wrong.

2. Read all the answers at least once, and if you are unsure read them again.

3. Make sure you understand the grammar in the underlined part. It’s usually not difficult, but if you don’t know it, grammar rarely gives you clues to allow inference.

Topik 26회

Topik 26회

The underlined part in this sentence means: “Instead of giving up, work hard” and there is only one answer that has a similar meaning to this one. Number 2 says “You have to do your best until the end”. So, number 2 is the answer. Sometimes with these the changeable answer is quite far off base from the underlined part. So in that case, I make sure to exercise caution when solving these and will read at least 2 times.

How I solve the correct content problems:

I solve these exactly like I solve them on the reading portion.

1. Ignore all the information before number 1 and everything after number 4.

2. Read and compare what you’ve read to the above advertisement and select accordingly. Note, they will use similar but different grammar in these to throw you off.

Topik 28th writing 37

Topik 28회

Topik 28회

The correct answer is number 2.


How I solve the mid-paragraph empty space problems:

Exactly how I solve them on the reading portion. I’m a little bit annoyed that you have to do  ones like this on two portions of the test. I’m not that great at these ones in reading or writing section.

How I solve the ‘create a sentence’ problems:

I LOVE these ones. I am ridiculously good at them.

All you have to do is:

1. Read them and get an idea of the differences between them.

2. Put that grammar study to work. You don’t have to be overly complicated, but you will need intermediate sentence structure. I try to use relative clauses or infinitives if I can to increase points.

Topik 29회

Topik 29회

1. 모르는  것이 있을 때 혼자 생각하지 말고 언제든지 물어 보는 것이 좋아요.

When there is something you don’t know, don’t try and figure it out alone as asking anytime is better.

2. 여행을 갔다 집에 돌아왔을 때 신문이 쌓여 있는 모습이 흔해요.

When you go on a trip and return home it is common to see newspapers piled up.

How I solve ‘complete the paragraph’ problems:

I plan on failing these. I will say it with zero shame. Worst part is that they aren’t even difficult. A lot of the time I will fully understand everything surrounding that empty spot. Despite having a lot of grammar in my arsenal, I feel like I’d have to waste waaaaaay too much time on these in order to solve them. I plan on reviewing these like hell before the exam and them dealing with them after I finish up everything else including the essay.

How I deal with the essays: 

I heard many people complain about not doing well at the essay before I ever started studying for the Topik. I was so scared I would royally suck at them too. I, like many self-study people, didn’t really focus on writing too much. However, even though I don’t focus on it I do quite well. Writing topics are rarely difficult. Look at the past exams. “Talk about your favorite thing”, “What things do you need”, “What is your most memorable outing” etc. If you look at the sample writings in the answer sheets and you will see the grammar and sentences aren’t that complex so:

1. Learn the format acceptable for the writing. They generally prefer you write with a differential ending. Ex: 나는 밥을 샀다. Rather than 나는 밥을 샀어요.

2. Practice with the weird spacing on the Korean writing paper. You can Google them and find some to download and print.

3. Study grammar again. And when you think you know it, study it again. Don’t let grammar kill you.

4. If you know you’re terrible at writing then practice. If you don’t have a tutor or someone to correct them then read over the ones on the practice exams so you can get an idea of what is expected of you. Also, reviewing the reading can help you with writing difficult sentence structures.

5. Try to use more complex sentence structure but don’t over due it. As I said the Topik intermediate questions don’t require 25% of the intermediate level grammar, so don’t waste your time trying to use them unnecessarily. Remember to try and use complex sentences, and different types of clauses at every turn. Look at the reading part of the exam. Koreans love relative clauses. They like them long and hard. I’ve read so much that I’ve become good at mimicking them.

6. Pace yourself and make sure you have time to dedicate to the writing portion. I read many people end up with 15 minutes to write an essay quickly. Stop wasting time on questions you struggle the most with. Ex: how I’m planning on ignoring questions 43 and 44 so I can focus on everything I know I can do well.

Without further ado, some of my essays (the topics are in blue):

Please excuse the spacing mistakes. I wrote to much and didn’t want to have to go all the way back to fix it. These essays have not been corrected by a tutor or my boss so they contain some mistakes. 

topik essay 1

topik essay 2

topik essay 3


I hope you enjoyed this installment of “How I solve Topik intermediate problems”. I want to be able to get the listening and grammar/vocabulary section up within this week.



Solving Topik intermediate reading questions 42-60

Solving the first 12 questions of the Topik intermediate is a breeze when you compare them to what comes next from 42 onward. Of course, being an exam it will get hard as the questions go on. So, in order to offer some help to other people also studying for the Topik intermediate 34th, I’d like to show how I solve these exam questions. The underlined red part is what I think is most important.

How I solve the order problems:

Let me start off by saying I suck(ed) at these and got nearly all of them wrong for the first 5-7 practice exams I did. It was like my brain couldn’t figure out how to put them in order and recall the parts I’d just read and I wished they’d give me a starting point so that I could do it. Then I saw something:

1. Look at the answers and you will see you have 2 choices for which one starts the sequence as shown here in blue. So don’t read them all. (I was so stupid it took forever to notice this)

2. Read the two starting sentences and eliminate one of them. Note: One can always be easily eliminated.

3. Once the first sentence is found, read the second in each sequence and eliminate one.

4. Once you have the first and second of the sequence (and you are sure) move on. There’s no need to read the rest.

Note: I sometimes do this by finding the first and then the last. For example, if I happen to skim the beginnings of the sentences and I see something like “in the end…” I know it’s the last one so I have the first and fourth and it matches an answer.

Topik 19회

Topik 19회

As you can see here the sequence starts with 가 or 다 as the first. The underlined purple part of 가 says “in order to buy tickets” which is not a starter for a sequence so you can cross off 1 and 2 as possible answers. The next in the sequence is 라 or 나. If you read the underlined portion in 라 it says “and there aren’t many people…” which should come after a sentence giving you a reason. So 나 is the next in the sequence. The answer is 3 so you can move on.

Note: This works like 85% of the time. There are 3 questions like this. I’ve had questions were the first and second characters were the same in each, so it forces you to read all 4. Shouldn’t be a problem if you are making good time and solved the preceding ones quickly.

How I solve the blank space problems: 

After 45 you have official entered the “better have it together” portion of the exam. The combined total of points from 46-60 is 51 points. This is the difference between a 3 and 4 for me. I solve these by slowing it down and paying attention.

1. Read the entire paragraph as well as all of the answers.

2. Select the correct answer.

That’s seriously all you can do on this part. I have underlined some parts here to show you what I pay attention to.

Topik 24회

Topik 24회

It says “each color gives you different feelings”, ” the calming color green is good for children rooms”, “the animated orange is used on restaurant walls”. From this little bit of information you can infer that it has to do with selecting a color for the type of environment. Well, in order to choose the correct answer you need to know the words 크기, 재, 상태, 위치, 목적, and 고려하다. Even though I did poorly on the first seven reading sections I got this question correct because I knew all those words. When choosing wallpaper you should what? Mind the purpose of the room? Of course. Number 4 is the answer, obviously.  However, all of these words pop-up often on the Topik, so they are good to know.

How I solve the 49-60 problems:

I grouped the next 12 together because I feel like they qualify as the “grade makers”. They are all different and unlike other questions on the exam, can’t easily be solved with little tricks here and there. I’ve found that from this point, it really tests your vocabulary, grammar, and reading abilities to the max. If you don’t have the proper skills in these areas you are sure to struggle through the next few questions. Below I have underlined question 49 and 50 with red marks to show what I especially paid attention to. However, I don’t think this is good enough to get it right. This is how I solve all of these questions:

1. Make sure I know a ton of grammar. Look at all the grammatical twists and turns in these readings. If grammar isn’t your strongest skill you should get to studying it now.

2. Read over the entire question. In order to infer anything, I’ve found I need to understand the passage at least 80% or else I’ll end up guessing incorrectly and selecting the wrong answer.

3. Read over all the answer choices carefully and really consider a choice before you make it. Even when I’ve understood the paragraph well, I still chose the wrong answer. I like to allocate a few minutes to each of these. This is why I try to do my best at the first 15 or so.

Below I will show you have I roughly translate them as I am reading along on the exam:

Topik 26회

Topik 26회

“On this past 26th, there was an accident of 6 people falling down and hurting themselves on the escalators at a department store in Seoul. Of the people who fell one person, 오 모 씨(56여) was taking the escalator up when her wallet fell from bag causing her to lose balance starting the sequential fall. The people behind her 이 모 씨 (72여) etc were bumped into by 오 씨 and they all fell backwards. After the accident, one person told the department store, “the escalators moved backwards.” So the department store wanted to see if there was a problem with the escalators so they pulled up the CCTV and saw they were operating correctly. The people were all taken to a near hospital and are receiving treatment.”

The above is how I would translate this in my head as I read along. It’s not an exact translation but I think it qualifies as at least a 90% thus is good enough to accurately answer the questions. The correct answers are 1 and 4 respectively.

Note: This question is always some sort of accident or something. You should know words like rescue, save, faint, fall down, emergency aid, hurt, treatment etc in order to solve these. I just collected all the words together and study them all because they repeat in this same question every time.

Topik 27회

Topik 27회

“There are a lot of people who think they should have the last word in a conversation when talking. Also, we worry about telling the person we are talking to everything we need to. However, there is a positive to this. In the future if I listen to the opinion well and then think about it and have time to formulate a response. At this time I need to also add more. Because it can be hard to speak well, sometimes no matter if you speak well your thoughts can stall. There is also a good point to this. The good point is that at the end of a long conversation, the last thing people hear is what they tend to remember.”

Lol. This one is about 75% decent. Partly because I am missing a sentence part, but also because the reading is quite difficult. However, I’m confident that I could still answer the questions correctly though I would probably put some serious time into making sure I didn’t get them wrong. Questions like this one aren’t very clear and the answers can play on that lack of clarity causing you to get it wrong. The answers are 3 and 4.


Topik 29회

Topik 29회

“My husband has a disease and it’s not one you can get rid of. Even though I say get rid of it my husband says he can’t. I gathered all of the things we didn’t need and my husband didn’t understand me. One weekend I couldn’t bare it anymore and I yelled at my husband. He only listened and then went into the room and brought out an old box. Inside were all of the old presents I’d given to my husband. Old gloves, a broken watch etc. I looked at my husbands memory box unable to properly turn my face.”

I’m pretty sure I have the last sentence wrong as it was difficult for me to properly translate because a lot of time Korean is written in ways that applies to Korean culture but doesn’t really translate to American culture. I’m assuming she meant she was touched or upset?

The answers are 2 and 3. Also, it’s important to note that here you will have to select an emotion for the underlined part. They use the same 30 or so words for all of them with the occasional wild card. It’s best to know them all.


Topik 31회

Topik 31회

“The 양산 is used by women to avoid the sun. (I guessed umbrella or cover for 양산). However, the umbrella doesn’t spread/cover as well as other things in Korea. In 1910 the girls at an all girls’ school used a “쓰개치마” instead of an umbrella. A long time ago, when Korean women would go outside they wore this skirt so that men could not see their faces. However because of X they started using the umbrella instead of the skirt.”

Obviously with the missing piece I can’t properly translate the last part, but you get the idea. The answers are 4 and 3.

Topik 33회

Topik 33회

“Recently “hook songs” are becoming very popular in music. A hook song has a simple rhythm and the lyrics are repeated. It is special because you can easily follow along with the song after hearing it only a few times. Hook songs are shorter than other songs and 50% of the lyrics are repeated. Also other song’s rhythms starts slowly and becomes faster as it continues but this song is fast from the start. Because of this, there are many people who like hook songs.”

I found this particular reading to be ridiculously easy especially since it is the second to the last problem. However, after doing 17 reading sections in order, I was doing well on the latter questions anyway. The answers are 3 and 4.


Topik 33회

Topik 33회

“In order to carry out this decision you need to demand a lot of preparation. Because of living in a narrow enclosure(?) the whale forgets all of it’s natural living methods. The first thing you need to do if you want to start training the whale to live in the wild is do a health exam. Next you need to make an environment that is similar to the one the whale will live in in the wild and make sure that people do not approach the whale. You also need to teach the whale how to properly hunt for food in the wild. Hopefully if the whale is able to learn to live in the wild it can be released. In order to make this possible you must set up a good plan.”

At the end of this one I had no idea what the last few words meant as I still have yet to study them, so I just guessed based on the rest of the reading. One thing to pay attention to on 59 and 60 is that they always lead in with some ridiculous sentence that gives you zero context. It’s like cutting a part of a paragraph at the worst spot possible so if you don’t understand the first sentence, I don’t think it will be a big deal. The answers are 3 and 1.

So there you have it. This is how I go about solving the reading questions. As you have noticed, there was a lot more winging it on the first half of the questions. However, I noticed that there was literally no way to wing the latter 10. You either have a good vocabulary, grammar knowledge and/or reading comprehension or you don’t. I’ve come a long way since the first time I took a reading exam and I think that if you are still unable to read the questions 49-60 with ease then you’re probably not ready for the reading portion of the Topik intermediate. But that’s just my opinion.


p.s. I will be adding the writing/grammar/listening “how to’s” this weekend if you are interested.

p.p.s. I checked the Topik website today and my picture was accepted. Who said bedroom studios don’t work? I’m so glad, now I can print my ticket and take my exam. 18 days to go.



Solving Topik intermediate reading questions 31-42

When taking a reading exam in a non-native language you are bound to encounter words or phrases you don’t know. Even though my Topik reading has improved dramatically, I still come across parts I don’t fully understand. I’m sure that there are many ways to go about solving them, but I wanted to show how I have come to solve them having done on section at a time (ex: all reading portions 17-33 then all grammar etc) to completion. Below I have highlighted the words I don’t know in yellow, text I think is most important in solving the questions in red, and the first thing you should look at in green.

How I solve the advertisements:

The first 4 problems one the reading exam are the easiest, as you know. However, I often find that one or two of them have tricks laced into them. Because of these tricks, I’ve had times where I’ve chosen the wrong answers, which can make or break a grade. What I do:

1. Quickly read over it and pick out the important parts and ignore the rest.

2. Scan the answers and select if it is very obvious or,

3. Do a once over again if I’ve come down to two answers because usually there is a word or part that points to one over the other.

Topik 20회

Topik 20회

Here I’ve highlighted 3 parts. I have no idea what “싹싹이” means so I don’t waste time on it. However the red parts say: “Clean without a sound” and “dust”. The rest goes on to say “neatly removing” etc. The answer choices are tissue, detergent, washer, vaccuum. Only one deals with dust and makes a sound. The answer is obviously 청소기 number 4. It would take me about 10 seconds to solve this as I have all the words above already written in my vocabulary note book.

Topik 24회

Topik 24회

The two highlighted parts in this ad say “rest” and “even if you move, the person next to you won’t wake up”. You have 4 answers. Table, wardrobe, desk and bed. The word “rest” automatically points to “bed” and the second part solidifies this. So, the answer is number 4 침대. Just knowing basic words like rest, move, next to, and wake up means you can solve this in less than 10 seconds.

Topik 20회

Topik 20회

I highlighted the 2 parts in this one. The word 화면 means screen. I have no idea what the yellow word means but it’s not important. Look at the words 감독 and 배우 at the bottom. The mean “director” and “actor” so it points to one obvious answer number 3 영화. Not knowing these simple words could lead you to choosing number 2 or 4.

Topik 24회

Topik 24회

The first part of this one was hard to read. Then I saw the words 모습 which is appearence, the pharse “만나 보세요” which means “please try to meet” and “가위 하나로”  or “with one pair of scissors. The word scissors obviously points to number 1 미용실 as the answer.

Topik 23회

Topik 23회

The first highlighted section is easy to read. You should know that 회 is attached to nouns to mean “meeting” or “conference” of some sort. The second “people who study about our tea” and the last “anyone is welcome” points away from a job or class so 1 and 3 can be crossed off. I was stuck between 2 and 4 but 문의 means inquiry and I don’t see a phone number so the answer must be 회원 모집 number 4. 

Topik 24회

Topik 24회

I realized after highlighting that 박홍구 must be a name. However, I’m fuzzy on the meaning of 담다. Filled with? Anyway, let’s look at 사진작가 or photographer. Knowing only this word doesn’t mean anything. It could apply to any answer, but the bottom part shows a place, and date as well as period. What usually takes place at cultural centers and also deals with photographers? An exhibition which is why the answer is 전시 안내 number 4.

Topik 24회

Topik 24회

The 3 highlighted parts “receipts”, “7 days after buying” and “to be possible” cancel out number 1 and 2 right away. It says you need to bring the receipt with you. When you do need to bring receipts? For product characteristics? No, but you do need them for exchanges or returns which is why the answer is number 3 교환 방법.


The first one or two problems in the reading can be solved easily within 10-15 seconds, however I like to spend about 20-30 seconds on the next 3 just be be sure. I’ve definitely had moments where I selected the wrong answer because the problem was laced with a trick and they want you to be on that “this is so easy” high so you’ll end up selecting it. Also it’s important to notice that they use the same 40 or so words in the answers for 31-34. Words like information, class, purchase, standard, travel, movie, bookstore, inquiry, warning, method etc are used so much it’s important to make sure you know them.

How I solve the flier problems:

When I first tried my hand at problems like this, I would try and read the whole flier and then go to the answers at match it to the flier. Problem is I couldn’t remember the flier so I’d have to check again. Now I just do this:

1. Read the title of the flier.

2. Go to the answers and read them and glance up at the flier to check correctness.

Topik 26회

Topik 26회

1. Weekday viewing time is one hour longer than weekend time.

2. If you go to this place, you can see the world’s various kinds of pottery.

3. If you do your application in advance, the pottery experience is free of charge.

4. The events invitation is sent electronically to people who have done the application.

I read each one by one and compare. The viewing time is longer on the weekend than weekday so number 1 is wrong. Notice under the title it says “various country’s pottery viewing”. This means number 2 is the answer. Don’t bother reading the others.

Topik 28회

Topik 28회

The title of this one says: “Foreign Scholarship Student Selection Announcement”. 선발 is a very important word. It comes up often in the reading.

1. If you are a scholarship student, you receive two semesters of scholarship.

2. If you are selected for a scholarship, you will be informed via phone.

3. The scholarship student will be selected from students who attend graduate school.

4. Students who have received other scholarships can also receive this one.

Read number one and notice it says 1, 2 학기 등록금 전액. Even if you don’t fully understand, the words 1 and 2 tuition point to number 1 being the answer. So there is no point in reading on. Note: 전액 means full, but the answer can be chosen without know that.

Generally solving question number 35 is easy but it’s also very easy to stumble so I like to use the time I saved on 31-34 to really pay attention to 35. Also it’s a good idea to look up the words always listed on the ads like: registration period, method, intended for, recommended, announcement etc and all of its synonyms because they are often interchanged on the exam. I’ve also noticed that if you have to read all the answers of number 35 and the answer ends up being 3 or 4 then number 36’s answer will most likely be 1 or 2.

How I solve graph problems: 

The graphs are only worth 3 points but like number 35 are places where I can mess up. The reason for this is sometimes incorrectly reading the data on the graph. I find pie graphs to be easiest but line or bar graphs a bit harder. For graphs I usually do this:

1. Read the title of the graph

2. Take note of the categories

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know all of the words of the categories.

Topik 26회

Topik 26회

This title of this graph is: “High school and college students job selection standards”. 기준  is a word that pops up a lot.

1. High school students think aptitude is more important than college students do.

2. College and high school students all answered that income is the most important.

3. For the college students promotion opportunity was the least selected thing.

4. High school students selected promotion opportunity more than work conditions.

Despite not knowing the words 수입 and 적성 I can easily find the answer because I know 더, 보다, 답하다, 선택하다.  All of which are basic grammar. Read number one and compare it to the graph and BOOM, number 1 is the answer so just move on. Not knowing basic grammar can force a person to have to read more option and waste more time.

Topik 27회

Topik 27회

The title says: 2011 Male and Female Reading Field Survey. The words 분야 and 조사 show up all over the Topik test.

1. Men read the economic field’s book the least.

2. Women read science field’s books the most.

3. Men read science field books more than history books.

4. Women read culture books less than they read history books.

This is why I love the pie graphs. They are easy even if you don’t know all the words. If you know the words “most”, “least”, than etc it will be easy to select number 3 as the answer.

I generally do well at graphs but have to remind myself to slow down on line or bar graphs as I’ve messed them up in the past. The grammar necessary for graphs usually comes from the most basic of grammar.

How I solve the “content/answer match” problems:

From number 37, you really start to get into the reading portion of the exam. I really like to spend about 1.5 minutes on the next 2 questions because they are worth a combined 8 points. I usually do this:

1. Read over each questions translating the meaning in my head into English.

2. If I don’t know what a word or phrase means, I just guess their meanings.

Topik 28회

Topik 28회

The red part read as: “Bike Event”, “No cars can attend via the road”, “traffic police will organize”, “expect the situation to cause difficulty for citizens”.

From these little excerpts you can determine there will be a biking event, cars will not be able to drive on the road in an area and that it will cause some disruption in citizen’s life, but police will be directing it.

Answer is number 1

How I solve the theme/central idea problems:

This is where it gets gritty. I start the tripping up hard phase here. The theme questions almost always have at least 2 possible answers with one looking better than the other. And as no surprise they are each worth 4 points each. So rushing this part is not a smart thing to do. Here is what I do:

1. Read over the excerpt quickly translating it as I read.

2. Figure out what the point of the reading is.

3. Scan over the answers and get rid of the obviously wrong ones.

Topik 28회

Topik 28회

“At a musical performance the audience claps to express feeling to the muscians”, “inappropriate clapping”, “cause disruption”, “concentration falls down”, “before it ends”, “unable to feel”.

From this I determined that: you must be careful when clapping at musical performances because if you clap at the wrong time you may disrupt other people and the players so it’s best to wait until the end to clap.

Answer 2 and 4 are the best answers:

2. Clapping at any time during a concert is not good.

4. You should wait until the end of a performance to show your appreciation by clapping.

The reading is about the effects of clapping at inappropriate times, sure you should wait to the end, but that’s not the point, so the answer is 2. 

Topik 29회

Topik 29회

The red says: “microwave”, “worry it’s not good for your health”, “not a good influence on the food”, “only bad for your body”.

So I can infer: People are worried that microwaves are not good for their health. They are worried that the waves are not good for the food and their bodies.

Anyone who reads knows this about microwaves, so applying common sense can help with this problem.

1, 3 and 4 are obviously bad answers and far off the mark, so number 2 is correct.


Topik 29회

Topik 29회

From questions 40 onward, they start to get really hard, I find.

The red part reads as: “Because of amusing story or funny situations, there are no more than 20% of these instances”, “because you want that other person to have a good feeling”.

Obviously this about people laughing at situations that in fact funny, but a lot of the time they laugh at things they might not find funny because they just want the other person to feel good. When was the last time you fake laughed? Exactly.

2 and 4 and both really good answers. However, if you read number 2 it says that you have to laugh or smile at the other person so that you are mindful of them, however, as people we don’t consciously choose to do this so 4 is the better answer here. Though, I feel 2 is a legitimate answer, too.

Topik 29회

Topik 29회

The red part reads: “when you discuss with another person because you are trying to solve a problem”, “listening to opinions is good”, ” you can learn a new method of solving”, “even if you have an opinion, listening is better”.

So: When someone has a problem, they sometimes like to discuss it with other people to help solve it. Listening to a persons opinions are good because they can come to learn a new way of solving it but even though you might have an opinion about it, sometimes it’s best to just listen.

Ever heard of bouncing ideas off someone? I have.

1 and 4 suggest the opposite of “listening is better” so they are automatically wrong. 3 suggests tilting the head to listen which is ridiculous and not in the reading so the best answer is 2.

Topik 31회

Topik 31회

The red reads as: “In order to live a healthy life we need vitamin D”. “Not much in food”, “can’t get as much as your body needs”.

So I can infer: Human beings need vitamin D as it is important for us, however there are not many food that contain large quantities of it so it is impossibly to get as much as you need in a day.

1 and 3 are obviously wrong because it says nothing about disease and vitamin deficiency. 4 looks like a good answers but it says you can’t get that much from food so answer 2 is the best choice.

Before I practiced the reading exclusively, I was terrible at it. I was terrible at figuring out which was the best answer and I was terrible at inferring the meanings of things I didn’t know. While I’ve looked up all the words I don’t know and plan on studying them before the exam, I am aware that there is no way for me to know them all. So, this is the strategy I like to employ. I will be adding questions 43-60 in a different post as well as a post about writing, grammar and listening solving, but for now I need to get to finishing my listening exams as I’ve wasted enough time today procrastinating and writing this post.





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