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.



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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