TOPIK – The Complete Guide

What is the TOPIK?

The TOPIK, Test of Proficiency in Korean, is a written test designed to measure the ability of non-native speakers for expression and comprehension in the Korean language.  There are two different forms of the TOPIK test.

A. Standard TOPIK

The standard TOPIK test measures proficiency in reading, writing, and listening comprehension in the Korean language.  The test has three different levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.  Further accuracy is expressed through six grades, two matched to each level to evaluate proficiency.

B. The Business TOPIK

The Business TOPIK test is meant for candidates who intend to work in Korea.  The Business TOPIK evaluates ability in Korean language for practical communication skills, with a focus on applied business Korean.  The Business TOPIK is not divided into levels or grades, nor is there a successful passing test score.  Candidates are told their score out of the total score of 400 points.

Who administers the TOPIK Test?

The Korean Ministry of Education & Science Technology is responsible for the general management of the test, such as supervising institutions administering the test in domestic and overseas locations.

The Korea Institute of Curriculum & Evaluation (KICE) handles the scheduling & issuance of testing management guidance, development of the test, printing and distribution of test sheets, and the scoring of test results.

The Korean Education Center administers the annual test at the request of the above institutions.

For Whom is the TOPIK intended?

This comprehensive test is intended for non-native speakers of Korean, such as Korean language learners, international students who want to study in Korea as well as individuals who would like to work in Korean companies and public institutions.

The test also serves as an excellent opportunity to receive formal certification for those who expect to use Korean in their careers.  Students of Korean who take the test will also learn which aspects of the language they need to concentrate on in future study.

  • Standard TOPIK (S-TOPIK)

The Standard TOPIK (S-TOPIK) is divided into four sections: Vocabulary & Grammar, Writing, Listening and Reading, Each section is graded out of 100 points with a possible total of 400 points for the total exam.  The test includes composition, listening and multiple choice sections.

The test consists of two 90-minute sessions with a 30-minute break in between.  The first session tests vocabulary & grammar, and writing, and the second session tests listening and reading.

There are three different levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.  Test takers who meet the requirements will be issued a formal certificate with one of six possible grades: low beginner (level 1), high beginner (level 2), low intermediate (level 3), high intermediate (level 4), low advanced (level 5), high advanced (level 6).

To qualify for a certificate, the average of the four sections must be over 50 points without any section scoring less than 40 points.

The following is the brief descri0ption of the language skills demanded of each grade.

[Beginner level]

1st Grade Use of basic commands of Korean for survival, such as greeting, purchasing, ordering, etc. Expressing and understanding oneself in simple everyday conversation by making simple sentences from 800 basic words.

2nd Grade Discussion of familiar topics employing a vocabulary of about 1,500∼2,000 words. Distinguishing correctly between formal and informal situations.

[Intermediate level]

3rd Grade Carrying out transactions with people in public spaces and maintaining social relationships. Understanding the correct usage of words and speech.  Command of fundamental characteristics of Korean.

4th Grade Comprehension of news articles, general social issues and abstract topics with accuracy and fluency. Comprehension of Korean social and cultural contents relying on essential idioms and understanding of representative aspects of Korean culture.

[Advanced Level]

5th Grade High fluency in using the Korean language in professional research or work. Understanding and discussing less unfamiliar topics in politics, economics and other fields. Usage of appropriate expressions, distinguishing formal and informal, written and spoken, by context.

6th Grade Absolutely fluent in the Korean language for professional research or work

Capacity to understand and express oneself without problem, although without the full fluency of a native speaker.

  • Business TOPIK (B-TOPIK)

The Business TOPIK (B-TOPIK) is intended for candidates who desire to work in Korea.  It is divided into four sections: Vocabulary & Grammar, Writing, Listening and Reading.  Each section is graded out of 100 points with a possible total of 400 points for the total exam.  All of the answers in the test will be given as multiple choices.

The test consists of two 90-minute sessions with a 30-minute break in between.  The first session tests vocabulary & grammar, and writing, and the second session tests listening and reading.

Unlike Standard TOPIK test, the Business TOPIK test does not have a level or grade placement.  Candidates will only receive their scores.

** In the rest of the part we will be discussing the Standard TOPIK only .

How can I register for the TOPIK Test?

In most of the countries, the Korean Embassies administer the TOPIK tests. You have to visit the embassy with 2 passport size photographs and a registration fee. The fee is Rs 500 in India.

When is the test conducted?

TOPIK test is conducted twice a year; once in April and once in September.  Registrations are done in Jan-Feb and Jun-July. In most countries, the beginner and advanced level TOPIK papers are in the morning and the intermediate and B-TOPIK papers are in the afternoon.

In India the test timing is as following:-

TOPIK test timing

How is the exam structured?

TOPIK is a 3-hour exam, which is split into two 90-minute papers.

  • Paper 1 contains two sections: vocabulary and grammar and writing
  • Paper 2 also contains two sections:listening and reading comprehension.

All questions are multiple choice except for the writing section in S-TOPIK (which has some short answer questions and an essay).

TOPIK structure

What score is needed to pass the test?

In order to score grades 1, 3 or 5 you need to get an average score over 50%  and not less than 40% in any one section.  To achieve grades 2,4 or 6 you need to get an average score over 70% and not less than 50% in any one section.

Is there any eligibility criteria for the exam?

No. Anyone who is studying or have studied Korean Language can sit in the exam.

**For more information on the TOPIK test you can visit the official site

About Satish Chandra Satyarthi
Satish is a language researcher and blogging enthusiast. He is studying Korean Language Education at Seoul National University, South Korea.

7 Responses to TOPIK – The Complete Guide

  1. Anup Kumar says:

    ** sorry for misstyping SINIOR and LANGUAGE in the above comment….it was just a mistype..

  2. Anup Kumar says:

    Hello All,
    i would like to introduce myself as sernior most korean langauge graduate in India passed out from JNU in 1998.
    I also teach students and guarantee to pass the exam with atleast 60%marks in the TOPIK test.
    Anup kumar.

  3. saiful says:

    i can not download any topik.pls help me.

  4. Barun Basnet says:

    Thankyou for your information. I’m planning to give the test in India and I didn’t know the location. And I found in your website that Korean embassy conducts the test and the amount of fee is Rs 500 also.

  5. rounak says:

    Thanks for your information about TOPIK. It really helped me. Could you please tell me where I can get material to read for TOPIK.

  6. Pingback: 19th and 20th TOPIK Dates announced « TOPIK

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