Tadaaah! New Year, New TOPIK!: Changes on TOPIK

Last night, I was checking Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines’ website to check the enrolment schedule of their culture classes. I saw an announcement regarding the distribution of  32nd TOPIK results so I clicked on the web post. There, I clicked TOPIK’s official website to print another copies of my 32nd TOPIK certificate. I was surprised when I checked the site! Tadaaaaah! They have already uploaded the guidelines for the new TOPIK!

Announcement on the new TOPIK (topik.go.kr)

Announcement on the new TOPIK (topik.go.kr)

I was very excited yet nervous to check the post but I did click the link anyways. According to the official announcement, the new type of exam will be used starting JULY 2014. Therefore, the 33th and the 34th TOPIK on January and April respectively will use the old format.

The old format has THREE LEVELS: Beginner (Level 1 and 2), Intermediate (Level 3 and 4) and Advanced (Level 5 and 6). Now, there will still be three levels (beginner, intermediate and advanced) but the exam will only be categorized as TOPIK I(for the beginner Level 1 and 2) and TOPIK II (for both intermediate and advanced levels 3 to 6).

For the test questions, the old format has FOUR SECTIONS: Grammar and Vocabulary, Writing, Listening and Reading. While the new format differs if you’re taking the TOPIK I or TOPIK II:

  • TOPIK I for Beginners has only TWO SECTIONS: Listening(30 items for 40 minutes) and Reading (40 items for 60 minutes). They removed the Grammar and Vocabulary section and the Writing part hence the exam time is also reduced from 180 minutes to 100 minutes and the number of items is also reduced from 104 to 70.
  • TOPIK II for Intermediate and Advanced has THREE SECTIONSListening (50 items  for 110 minutes + writing part) Writing (4 essays for 110 minutes + listening part) and Reading (50 items for 70 minutes). They also removed the Grammar and Vocabulary part. The exam time is same as the old format which is 180 minutes and the number of items is still 104. The main difference will be the essays! We need to answer FOUR writing exercises in which two of them are paragraph completion and the other two are essay writing.
Changes in the Scoring

Changes in the Number of Items and Scoring

TOPIK’s website also provided a sample test questionnaire for students who are currently preparing for the new type of exam. Here’s the sample exam for TOPIK I:

TOPIK I - Levels 1 and 2

TOPIK I – Levels 1 and 2

TOPIK I - Sample Questions (Listening)

TOPIK I – Sample Questions (Listening)

TOPIK I - Sample Questions (Reading)

TOPIK I – Sample Questions (Reading)

As what I have noticed, TOPIK I’s questions are still easy(well, in my case) yet they are more challenging compared to the old one. This format needs thorough reading and  thorough thinking especially for the reading part. If I understood their announcement correctly, one of the main reasons why they changed the TOPIK format is the influx of TOPIK takers because of the Hallyu or Korean Wave. They want to encourage more beginner students to take the TOPIK without worrying about the essay writing part. They fused the grammar and vocabulary exam with the reading and listening part too! I guess the test officials were like “You need to be knowledgeable about the grammar and vocabs to be able to understand the listening and reading sections so let us just abolish the grammar and vocabs section! So if you lack grammar and vocabs skills, you’re DOOOOOOMED!”.

For TOPIK II, no more Grammar and Vocabulary exam only the Listening, Writing and Reading:

TOPIK II - Levels 3 to 6

TOPIK II – Levels 3 to 6

I haven’t tried answering all of the test questions but I noticed some easy ones and a lot of difficult questions. The real challenge for TOPIK II takers is the vocabulary and writing skills. If you lack in both areas, then I think you need to work harder to get a TOPIK II certificate.

They also fused the grammar and vocabulary section with the reading, listening and writing sections. Here’s some sample reading questions:

TOPIK II - Sample Question (Reading)

TOPIK II – Sample Question (Reading)

The photo below shows the first part of the Writing test. This is like items 43 and 44 of the old writing exam. You need to fill in the blanks by putting a grammatical and logical sentence or phrase to make the paragraph correct.

TOPIK II - Sample Essay Question (Writing)

TOPIK II – Sample Essay Question (Writing)

For items 53 and 54 of the new type, you need to write essays! Tadaaaaah, essssaaaaaaysssss! The good thing about item number 53 is that the important points of the essay are already provided. All you need to do is write supporting sentences and arrange them logically.

TOPIK II - Sample Essay Question (Writing #2)

TOPIK II – Sample Essay Question (Writing #2)

Now, for Item 54, this is a REAL CHALLENGE! Now, write a 600-700 character essay about environmental pollution! Well, I might be able to write few sentences about this but my vocabs is really lacking to make a logical paragraph. This changes in the TOPIK really calls for a major change in my study habits! I need to focus more on my weaknesses which are vocabs and writing for mw to survive this exam. I guess in the next few months, there will be new TOPIK review books that will be available in the market.

TOPIK II - Sample Essay Question (Writing #3)

TOPIK II – Sample Essay Question (Writing #3)

There have also been rumors about the speaking part in TOPIK but I guess they are still going to try this new format before adding a speaking section. Also, I really encourage those TOPIK takers to take the 34th exam on April 20 before trying the new format. It will be good if you will have an idea about the old format and it can also be a form of review in preparation for the new one.

I still have a lot of questions about this new TOPIK exam like why did they combined the Intermediate and Advanced level? I am not sure if this question is already answered in their Q and A because I haven’t really finished translating the announcement. If you want to get the pdf files of the official announcement, Q and A and the sample exam, click this.

I am looking forward to study the first ever test questionnaire on July and also looking forward to take this exam on October. Whew! Work hard! Work harder!

Share your thoughts about the new TOPIK! What do you think about the exam?^^

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16 thoughts on “Tadaaah! New Year, New TOPIK!: Changes on TOPIK

  1. As a previous language partner phrased it when he saw the essay sample questions: “you should practice how to express your opinion for some issues”. Hahaha that must be the understatement of the year – and it’s only January 3rd! 😀

  2. I’m gonna have to work even harder. OTL My plan was to take the intermediate exam because I wanted to just skip the beginner one. With all these changes, I don’t even wanna think about TOPIK II. The int./adv. merge still confuses me, but hopefully they’ll explain in the future… As in soon. ;-; I had no idea that part of the reason of the change was because of the Hallyu wave. They might be encouraging people to take TOPIK I, but they’re scaring us away from TOPIK II.

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    • Yey! Thanks for the time! I actually read a lot of news about Korea via different twitter accounts or Naver. I think this one will be helpful in terms of translation practice! Thanks! Will try it soon!

  5. I’m taking the old format Beginner exam in April here in Toronto. It’ll be my first time taking a TOPIK exam, so I hope it goes well! I had considered skipping to the Intermediate as a challenge since the old format Beginner sample tests were pretty easy, but now I think I’m glad I’m taking it slow and steady. XD

    I originally found your blog because I was trying to find anyone’s experiences on getting their identification slips back. I submitted my application at the Korean Consulate probably around Feb 1st, so with 44 days to go til the test, I’m wondering how long it usually takes for your test slip to come back in the mail so that you have it to bring with you to the test. If it doesn’t arrive in time, I’ll be really bummed!

    • Ha! I think my reply is long overdue! My bad! Haha! How was your TOPIK exam? I did skip the beginner level too for a more challenging TOPIK experience and I don’t regret it! haha!

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