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).



By Charm

I am an American living in Korea, teaching English to Korean students, and Korean to myself. Topik here I come!

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