First of all, I would like to say that these tips are based on personal experience. As someone who took TOPIK for the first time last year, I wanted to share some study tips I tried which luckily for me, worked. I hope they work for you like they did for me.
1. Assess yourself.
You know your strong and weak points better than anyone else. The best way to gauge where you are at in terms of skill is by trying to answer TOPIK test papers.
2. Download previous TOPIK papers.
The materials from review classes aren’t enough. Lucky for you, the previous TOPIK questions are available online. You can download the test papers, the audio files, and the answer keys from there. These will give you a better idea of what to expect from the test.
3. Analyze the test papers.
Make sure you set aside time to analyze the test papers you’ve downloaded before you even try answering them. These give you an idea of what kind of questions to expect and to understand the question patterns of different parts of the test.
For TOPIK I, you will be tested in Listening and Reading only. However, for TOPIK II, there is also a writing portion.
Don’t worry, there’s no Hanja (Chinese characters) involved in either test.
4. Answer the test papers.
When solving the test papers, make sure you time yourself for exactly 90 minutes, which is how much time you actually have when you take the test. Give 20 minutes for listening and 70 minutes for the reading portion, if you’re preparing for TOPIK I.
For TOPIK II takers, it’s 60 minutes for listening, 50 minutes for writing, and 70 minutes for reading.
Trust me. My rookie mistake was not practicing to answer my test papers under a time limit. Fun fact: I wasn’t able to finish answering all the questions in the reading portion.
You should also NEVER pause or repeat listening audio when you’re trying to take the test. Try guessing the best answer when you’re in doubt. But once you’re done solving the test paper, you are free to loop it while checking your answers.
If there’s a question you can’t understand, I’d advise you to skip it and just go back to it when you’ve finished the rest of the test. It’s normal to not be able to answer a few questions in a row. It happens with everyone in the beginning stage of preparation.
5. Make a list of grammar patterns and vocabulary.
While trying to answer your test papers, mark all the unfamiliar grammar patterns and vocabulary. When you’re done answering the test, list them all in a notebook. Write meanings and explanations of those grammar patterns and words to help you remember them better.
6. Take a review class.
This is especially for those, who like me last year, are out of practice with their Korean. It will help refresh your memory and help you find study buddies. Last year, Ateneo offered review classes for TOPIK I around September. If not review classes, take Korean classes. This allows you to learn new grammar and vocabulary, while having easy access to teachers you can ask help from.
Featured photo taken from From Rising Sun to Morning Calm