Solving Topik intermediate reading questions 42-60

Solving the first 12 questions of the Topik intermediate is a breeze when you compare them to what comes next from 42 onward. Of course, being an exam it will get hard as the questions go on. So, in order to offer some help to other people also studying for the Topik intermediate 34th, I’d like to show how I solve these exam questions. The underlined red part is what I think is most important.

How I solve the order problems:

Let me start off by saying I suck(ed) at these and got nearly all of them wrong for the first 5-7 practice exams I did. It was like my brain couldn’t figure out how to put them in order and recall the parts I’d just read and I wished they’d give me a starting point so that I could do it. Then I saw something:

1. Look at the answers and you will see you have 2 choices for which one starts the sequence as shown here in blue. So don’t read them all. (I was so stupid it took forever to notice this)

2. Read the two starting sentences and eliminate one of them. Note: One can always be easily eliminated.

3. Once the first sentence is found, read the second in each sequence and eliminate one.

4. Once you have the first and second of the sequence (and you are sure) move on. There’s no need to read the rest.

Note: I sometimes do this by finding the first and then the last. For example, if I happen to skim the beginnings of the sentences and I see something like “in the end…” I know it’s the last one so I have the first and fourth and it matches an answer.

Topik 19회

Topik 19회

As you can see here the sequence starts with 가 or 다 as the first. The underlined purple part of 가 says “in order to buy tickets” which is not a starter for a sequence so you can cross off 1 and 2 as possible answers. The next in the sequence is 라 or 나. If you read the underlined portion in 라 it says “and there aren’t many people…” which should come after a sentence giving you a reason. So 나 is the next in the sequence. The answer is 3 so you can move on.

Note: This works like 85% of the time. There are 3 questions like this. I’ve had questions were the first and second characters were the same in each, so it forces you to read all 4. Shouldn’t be a problem if you are making good time and solved the preceding ones quickly.

How I solve the blank space problems: 

After 45 you have official entered the “better have it together” portion of the exam. The combined total of points from 46-60 is 51 points. This is the difference between a 3 and 4 for me. I solve these by slowing it down and paying attention.

1. Read the entire paragraph as well as all of the answers.

2. Select the correct answer.

That’s seriously all you can do on this part. I have underlined some parts here to show you what I pay attention to.

Topik 24회

Topik 24회

It says “each color gives you different feelings”, ” the calming color green is good for children rooms”, “the animated orange is used on restaurant walls”. From this little bit of information you can infer that it has to do with selecting a color for the type of environment. Well, in order to choose the correct answer you need to know the words 크기, 재, 상태, 위치, 목적, and 고려하다. Even though I did poorly on the first seven reading sections I got this question correct because I knew all those words. When choosing wallpaper you should what? Mind the purpose of the room? Of course. Number 4 is the answer, obviously.  However, all of these words pop-up often on the Topik, so they are good to know.

How I solve the 49-60 problems:

I grouped the next 12 together because I feel like they qualify as the “grade makers”. They are all different and unlike other questions on the exam, can’t easily be solved with little tricks here and there. I’ve found that from this point, it really tests your vocabulary, grammar, and reading abilities to the max. If you don’t have the proper skills in these areas you are sure to struggle through the next few questions. Below I have underlined question 49 and 50 with red marks to show what I especially paid attention to. However, I don’t think this is good enough to get it right. This is how I solve all of these questions:

1. Make sure I know a ton of grammar. Look at all the grammatical twists and turns in these readings. If grammar isn’t your strongest skill you should get to studying it now.

2. Read over the entire question. In order to infer anything, I’ve found I need to understand the passage at least 80% or else I’ll end up guessing incorrectly and selecting the wrong answer.

3. Read over all the answer choices carefully and really consider a choice before you make it. Even when I’ve understood the paragraph well, I still chose the wrong answer. I like to allocate a few minutes to each of these. This is why I try to do my best at the first 15 or so.

Below I will show you have I roughly translate them as I am reading along on the exam:

Topik 26회

Topik 26회

“On this past 26th, there was an accident of 6 people falling down and hurting themselves on the escalators at a department store in Seoul. Of the people who fell one person, 오 모 씨(56여) was taking the escalator up when her wallet fell from bag causing her to lose balance starting the sequential fall. The people behind her 이 모 씨 (72여) etc were bumped into by 오 씨 and they all fell backwards. After the accident, one person told the department store, “the escalators moved backwards.” So the department store wanted to see if there was a problem with the escalators so they pulled up the CCTV and saw they were operating correctly. The people were all taken to a near hospital and are receiving treatment.”

The above is how I would translate this in my head as I read along. It’s not an exact translation but I think it qualifies as at least a 90% thus is good enough to accurately answer the questions. The correct answers are 1 and 4 respectively.

Note: This question is always some sort of accident or something. You should know words like rescue, save, faint, fall down, emergency aid, hurt, treatment etc in order to solve these. I just collected all the words together and study them all because they repeat in this same question every time.

Topik 27회

Topik 27회

“There are a lot of people who think they should have the last word in a conversation when talking. Also, we worry about telling the person we are talking to everything we need to. However, there is a positive to this. In the future if I listen to the opinion well and then think about it and have time to formulate a response. At this time I need to also add more. Because it can be hard to speak well, sometimes no matter if you speak well your thoughts can stall. There is also a good point to this. The good point is that at the end of a long conversation, the last thing people hear is what they tend to remember.”

Lol. This one is about 75% decent. Partly because I am missing a sentence part, but also because the reading is quite difficult. However, I’m confident that I could still answer the questions correctly though I would probably put some serious time into making sure I didn’t get them wrong. Questions like this one aren’t very clear and the answers can play on that lack of clarity causing you to get it wrong. The answers are 3 and 4.


Topik 29회

Topik 29회

“My husband has a disease and it’s not one you can get rid of. Even though I say get rid of it my husband says he can’t. I gathered all of the things we didn’t need and my husband didn’t understand me. One weekend I couldn’t bare it anymore and I yelled at my husband. He only listened and then went into the room and brought out an old box. Inside were all of the old presents I’d given to my husband. Old gloves, a broken watch etc. I looked at my husbands memory box unable to properly turn my face.”

I’m pretty sure I have the last sentence wrong as it was difficult for me to properly translate because a lot of time Korean is written in ways that applies to Korean culture but doesn’t really translate to American culture. I’m assuming she meant she was touched or upset?

The answers are 2 and 3. Also, it’s important to note that here you will have to select an emotion for the underlined part. They use the same 30 or so words for all of them with the occasional wild card. It’s best to know them all.


Topik 31회

Topik 31회

“The 양산 is used by women to avoid the sun. (I guessed umbrella or cover for 양산). However, the umbrella doesn’t spread/cover as well as other things in Korea. In 1910 the girls at an all girls’ school used a “쓰개치마” instead of an umbrella. A long time ago, when Korean women would go outside they wore this skirt so that men could not see their faces. However because of X they started using the umbrella instead of the skirt.”

Obviously with the missing piece I can’t properly translate the last part, but you get the idea. The answers are 4 and 3.

Topik 33회

Topik 33회

“Recently “hook songs” are becoming very popular in music. A hook song has a simple rhythm and the lyrics are repeated. It is special because you can easily follow along with the song after hearing it only a few times. Hook songs are shorter than other songs and 50% of the lyrics are repeated. Also other song’s rhythms starts slowly and becomes faster as it continues but this song is fast from the start. Because of this, there are many people who like hook songs.”

I found this particular reading to be ridiculously easy especially since it is the second to the last problem. However, after doing 17 reading sections in order, I was doing well on the latter questions anyway. The answers are 3 and 4.


Topik 33회

Topik 33회

“In order to carry out this decision you need to demand a lot of preparation. Because of living in a narrow enclosure(?) the whale forgets all of it’s natural living methods. The first thing you need to do if you want to start training the whale to live in the wild is do a health exam. Next you need to make an environment that is similar to the one the whale will live in in the wild and make sure that people do not approach the whale. You also need to teach the whale how to properly hunt for food in the wild. Hopefully if the whale is able to learn to live in the wild it can be released. In order to make this possible you must set up a good plan.”

At the end of this one I had no idea what the last few words meant as I still have yet to study them, so I just guessed based on the rest of the reading. One thing to pay attention to on 59 and 60 is that they always lead in with some ridiculous sentence that gives you zero context. It’s like cutting a part of a paragraph at the worst spot possible so if you don’t understand the first sentence, I don’t think it will be a big deal. The answers are 3 and 1.

So there you have it. This is how I go about solving the reading questions. As you have noticed, there was a lot more winging it on the first half of the questions. However, I noticed that there was literally no way to wing the latter 10. You either have a good vocabulary, grammar knowledge and/or reading comprehension or you don’t. I’ve come a long way since the first time I took a reading exam and I think that if you are still unable to read the questions 49-60 with ease then you’re probably not ready for the reading portion of the Topik intermediate. But that’s just my opinion.


p.s. I will be adding the writing/grammar/listening “how to’s” this weekend if you are interested.

p.p.s. I checked the Topik website today and my picture was accepted. Who said bedroom studios don’t work? I’m so glad, now I can print my ticket and take my exam. 18 days to go.



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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