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.





By Charm

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

Comments (2)

Leave me a comment!

%d bloggers like this: