Changes in Standard TOPIK

This is an old blog post, and there are better blog posts that explain about the new format of Standard TOPIK now: ###


Have you read the news on Yonhap about the big changes on Standard TOPIK tests?

In the new version of TOPIK (planned to be applied some time in the second half of 2014), there will be simplification of levels.
3 levels of TOPIK (Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced) will be simplified to only 2 levels: “Basic” (초급), and “Intermediate/Advanced” (중고급).

Grammar and vocabulary section is eliminated. Your skills on grammar and vocabulary will be tested in other sections (listening, reading, and writing).

There will be no writing section on basic level. Only listening section and reading section.

The new Intermediate/Advanced level will consist of reading, listening, and writing section. Multiple choice questions will be eliminated from the writing section.

Oh, and TOPIK in South Korea which is held 4 times a year will be increased to 6 times.

This is not final, but since it made the news, I think they’re pretty serious about it.

Read this also: “Korean language proficiency test to get easier”: ###


21 thoughts on “Changes in Standard TOPIK

  1. Woah, Intermediate/Advanced? So will that mean that intermediate learners will have more difficulty or will it be too easy for advanced learners. I liked how the test already was. I don’t like when tests get simplified. It makes me feel like I didn’t work as hard as everyone else did and that I got the “dumbed-down” version. Cutting out the vocab./grammar section may make things more complicated since that’s usually the place where most people do the best. It’s like they complicated the test and simplified it at the same time so I don’t know the proper word for it.

    If they go through with this new version, I’ll be sad. ;-;


    • You’re right, 어휘 & 문법 is the easiest part to prepare for. >< Someone on the TOPIK board probably thinks, it's either Korean for beginners or real-life Korean, so why don't we make it into only 2 levels? With the TOPIK certificate, we just want to know whether foreigners can speak Korean and function in our country, so who cares about the subtle differences between intermediate and advanced level? Maybe. Just my speculation.
      Because when I was learning Japanese at language school, after 1 month of learning, we had to take the lowest level, and then, the highest level, so I really don't know what's there in between, for example how N3 different from N2, N2 from N1… Maybe more levels are helpful for learners, but for employers or universities, less levels are easier to understand. Maybe… 잘 모르겠는데요…


    • That’s a good point and it’s probably true. (We care about how far we’ve come though. Meanies. T^T) Companies and institutions just need to know if we’re okay at speaking Korean or are near native fluency. Scoring level 1-4 on TOPIK is probably all the same to them while we’re like, “Ah! SO close to the upper level.” XD

      I haven’t taken the JLPT yet, but based off of the practice exams you don’t see a big difference between N5 and N4 but you’ll see it between N5, N3 and N1. Especially N1 sweet baby Poseidon. @.@ It’s funny how the JLPT added a level because the gap from N3 to N2 was too large and for TOPIK they’re removing a level.


  2. That’s a strange way to do it… Especially the level differentiation. As for the 중고급, basically they make an exam for everybody that caters to nobody. Intermediate learners will sit the same exam as those advanced students who sit TOPIK to enter Korean university and chances are that these students are at *very* different levels. For the intermediate learners to have a chance at all, the exam obviously cannot be too advanced, but for the exam to have any value to the advanced students, it has to be difficult enough to show that they can manage studying and working with native Koreans. I’m not sure how they will do that in just one level so I hope they have given it some serious thought before changing something that has worked so far.


    • True. I’m studying TOPIK advanced level questions, and it’s way harder than intermediate. The gap is huuuge. And to imagine I will be reading advanced level questions when I barely pass intermediate… that’s just scary. Whoever initiated those changes just doesn’t realize the difficulty in learning Korean. For TOEFL or TOEIC, everybody takes the same test anyway, so it must be no problem for TOPIK, too, right?


  3. Don’t know why, but I’m just more nervous about this merge, since the opposite happened back then for japanese when JLPT expanded to include 5 tiers instead of 4. :< ack. will this mean it'll be more expensive too?


  4. I just had the sinking feeling that lower intermediate takers (ie. me) would get huge esteem knockdowns sitting for this exam.Obviously it has to be designed to include the hardest questions for the advanced level and those who score lower = sift out the intermediate from the advanced takers.

    Boils down to sitting for a mad hard test that you probably won’t feel good about your own capabilities after the session. Even taking away MCQ for the safety blanket seems harsh. What’s the point of increasing the frequency to sit for an expensive test that makes you feel like crap afterwards?


  5. O___O Intermediate/Advanced Level. Oh God. I need to pass this year’s Level 4 and study harder for the new TOPIK. This post made me quite nervous about TOPIK yet I’m excited to see the new format!


    • I’m curious, too. And as a textbook collector, I just want to see the new textbooks for the new TOPIK, haha. Besides, regardless of TOPIK, we still have to make effort to learn Korean every day anyway…


  6. Heard that rumors since a few months ago, but the rumors were saying about adding speaking and making the test harder, glad the rumors changed again. So is the intermediate/advance level like have 2 levels in it or 4 levels? It use to be 6 levels in all the 3 exams. Hope it’s not that hard! Being the 1st batch of candidate to take the new format of TOPIK 2014 must be stressful! Lucky for the beginner takers, they don’t have to take the writing section! Just wondering that will the exams have 6/4 levels in that 2 levels? People said that TOPIK might announce the new format for the next years exam. I’m kinda worried to say!


    • Ah… right! Speaking test. Where did that go? Too much trouble to implement, perhaps. It might be exciting to experience something new first, before anyone else. It’s just TOPIK. If one test goes badly, take the next one until you get the result you want. No? After all, there will be 6 in a year.


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  8. My Korean teacher also talks about this change of format, so I think that everyone should prepare for the upcoming changes.
    Vocabulary and Grammar is the section that can help us to raise our score, but now they intend to omit that section. I think that it will be very hard to gain high scores.
    Topik doesn’t reflect all of your Korean ability, but it is necessary in some situations. For example, my major is English and the university strangely requires us to have a Topik 4 to be qualified to graduate. I have taken Topik twice, but only get Topik 3. If the topik test really changes, I am scared of not being able to get graduated next year :((((


    • That’s harsh. I hope you’ll get to level 4 by next year. Sure you will! I can’t see why not? We still don’t know how TOPIK will really change, but no matter what happens with TOPIK, Korean will always be part of our every day life… Just don’t worry too much?


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