Topik Prep


19 hours until the Topik Intermediate 34….

And my brain is fried. I went to the dentist yesterday to get my crown installed and seeing that it only took 10 minutes, I decided to pop into the bookstore across the street to buy Topik preparation book since I could no longer bear to re-study the same tests. The book is pictured at the top, and like the EBS book, is REALLY good. So much better than the Topik Master’s book. The tests weren’t the exact same as the exams, but they mirror them enough for you to feel like you’re practicing.

Anyway, the book has 4 exams in it. I started it this morning and have successfully made it through 1 exam. Well 3/4th of an exam. I didn’t do the listening part. I did however do quite well on the reading and the grammar portion, and feel “prepared” for the Topik tomorrow. When I tried to do the next exam, however, I just felt burned out. Like my brain just can’t take anymore studying. I was getting tired of trying to solve the problems. I was getting tired of reading all the answer choices and wondering if I selected the right one. I was just getting tired. Not tired of Korean, but tired of studying for the Topik. My brain has officially had enough.

With the Topik less than 20 hours away, I’ve decided to stop “preparing” for it. I plan on reviewing my adverbs, grammar and idioms and that’s it. The way I see it, if I’m not ready at this point, then I’m not ready for the exam. I also felt it was best to just stop overdoing it since I kind of need to be ready for the exam tomorrow. I just closed my preparation book, turned on Hulu and started watching a drama called School 2013. This is will be my listening practice for tonight and that’s it.

I’m going to ride this thing on out calmly and collectively. I thought I would be more nervous or anxious about it, but I find I am not. I’m just tired and worn out. Good luck to everyone who is still currently preparing for the exam, and to those who have taken it already. I will see you on the other side of the Topik 34.





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.




study charm

The fire has returned with 8 days until the Topik 34

I don’t know what’s gotten into me but my passion for learning Korean has come back. That 10 days of not studying made me feel like I was definitely going to fail the exam but now I am thinking it was definitely for the best. While I had to deal with all of these things I am kind of glad now that they did arise. I’ve come to accept that my brain needs a break from things after a certain amount of time regardless as to if there is a pending deadline like an exam.

I’ve all but finished the EBS book I bought the other day. I did okay for the most part. It certainly wasn’t the Topik but was much better than the Darakwon Topik Master’s book at creating mock exam questions. The book only has different kind of practice problems. You get 5 problems each for every style of question in each section. I didn’t solve some of the problems nearly as well as I would have liked, but it was nice to be able to read the questions and understand them 100%.

I also busted out my finished Topik exams and wrote down ALL of the questions that contain adverbs. There are 59 adverbs that repeat on the Topik and I’ve written them and their definitions down on a sheet of paper. This might sound like a lot of words but it’s surely better than the 200 I have written down in my notebook somewhere. Then I really lost my mind and decided to write down ALL of the recurring idioms in the final question of the grammar/vocabulary section. Right now I’m looking all 47 of them up. In the end I decided I should suck it up and at least try to get that question correct. So far I’ve learned the Korean expression for ‘when it rains, it pours’ which I have to admit is nice.

I’m feeling pretty good about the test, but I feel as though the scales have turned a bit. I have spent so much time on the reading portion of the exam that I’m now really good at that, but tripping over the grammar portion. Not because I don’t know it, but because I haven’t reviewed my grammar paper in about 3 weeks. I plan on getting it out tomorrow and reviewing them all which I’m sure will restore my hazy knowledge of what they mean. Even though I’m good at grammar, I still lose some of it when I’m not focused on it for stretches of time.

I honestly am not even looking forward to the Topik test. Like I said before I can’t wait for it to be April 21, 2014. I have so many other things Korean-related that I want to jump into and the obligation of studying for this test (I guess I should try to pass it, lol) is stopping me from being able to do it. I’m really excited to get this last little bit digested so I can move on to bigger and better things.



Kindergarten, Crowns, and Advanced Korean Grammar with 9 days until the Topik

Korean Grammar in Use advanced and EBS Topik prep

I have only 9 days until the Topik 34th.


Over the past 10 or so days I’ve managed to do all of nothing. We currently teach at Korean kindergarten and despite classes being 30 minutes long a couple times a week, we have to prepare so much for it. Songs, dances, materials etc. I probably spend at least 10-15 hours of my free time making materials for teaching.


I also had a dental emergency this week. I have two root canals done years ago and one of them has been slightly chipped and in need of a crown for months. Well a few days ago the other one chipped as well. This could not wait, so guess who was at the dentist two times this week? Today I had my fitting done for one of the crowns. Being stupid I thought this process would take like 20 minutes and I’d be out the door. All they have to do is take a mold, right? Wrong. They must cut the tooth for crowning preparation, fit a mold, cut into the gums, take another mold, create a temporary tooth (which feels like crap) and only then could I go home. Guess when I’ll be having it put it? Friday the 18th. That’s two days before the Topik.


Because of all of this, I haven’t been able to put a ton of studying into the Topik. I did manage to get through all of the reading reviews but I haven’t been able to memorize all of the vocabulary and adverbs that I would have liked. My boss offered to translate the rest of the 200 adverbs I need to know to cut down on my time. To remedy this, I decided to buy an EBS Topik prep book a the bookstore as well as the new Darakwon advanced grammar book. I’m pretty excited for the purchases. The EBS book forces me to study the Topik and the Darakwon gives me something to look forward to after the test is finished. There are only 85 grammar points in that book. I’m so excited to officially be at newspaper reading level (though my vocabulary game is weak).


From today, I am going to be studying continuously. I can’t say I will be studying especially hard as I’ve crossed that line where I have a really good idea as to what is expected and can’t really go much further, but studying something Topik related rather that just sitting on my butt and watching TV is probably a better situation.


P.S. Expect big changes around the website in the next week or two…..



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.



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