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.




By Charm

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

Comments (5)
  1. sweetangel April 24, 2014 at 12:09 am

    Wow!!!!!!!!! I admire you so much !!!!!!!

  2. sweetangel April 24, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Another tip is that if you know Hanja, you can guess the new words and learn them easily. ^^

    • Charm April 24, 2014 at 5:52 am

      Really? I know zero hanja. This is finally the time to start learning I guess. Up until this point I’ve been able to get by without it, but now I must learn it if I want to continue. How many hanja do you need to know for Korean?

      • sweetangel April 26, 2014 at 5:27 pm

        According to the Standard Korean Dictionary (표준국어대사전) published by the National Institute of the Korean Language, Hanja constitutes approximately 69.1% of the Korean vocabulary .
        You can also read this entry for more information.

        • Charm April 26, 2014 at 6:49 pm

          Omg, I didn’t realize it was that much. While studying for the intermediate exam, I did notice that certain words had a syllable in common with others. I had no idea it had to do with hanja. I actually planned on buying that Darakwon Hanja book since it seems like I’ll need it. And despite having noticed the connection between words parts, it seems like buying that book would help me to learn what words mean easier, just by looking at it. Thanks for mentioning it.

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