Monday, October 01, 2007


TOPIK - Test of Proficiency in Korean (한국어능력시험)

1. Administrating Body: Korea Institute of Curriculum & Evaluation

2. Singapore Test Centre: Singapore Korean School

3. Type of Test Paper: B-TOPIK (Business TOPIK) and S-TOPIK (Standard TOPIK). I will only be talking about S-TOPIK in this comparison. The S-TOPIK is divided into 3 different types of paper, namely Basic level, Intermediate level and Advanced level. Basic level paper is meant for people who want to attain 1st or 2nd grade pass. Intermediate level paper is meant for 3rd or 4th grade pass and Advanced level paper is meant for 5th or 6th grade pass.

4. Exam Date: Twice a year in Apr and Sep but in Singapore, TOPIK is only conducted in Sep every year.

5. Test Fee: S$50 (fee has been revised to $80 since 2008)

6. Test Duration: 180mins in total conducted over 2 sessions of 90mins each with 30mins rest in between.

7. Test Score: 400 points in total. 100 points each for vocabulary/grammar, writing, listening and reading.

8. Test Paper Format: There are two set of papers. The first set of paper covers vocabulary/grammar and writing. There are 30 Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) for vocabulary/grammar. As for the writing, there are 10 MCQs, 5 sentence-making questions and a composition. The composition alone is worth 30 points. The first set of paper is taken in the first session. The second set of paper covers listening and reading. There are 30 MCQs each for listening and reading. The second set of paper is taken in the second session.

9. Grading System: The TOPIK grading system is a little bit complex. With reference to the below table, if a person wants to attain a 2nd grade pass, he or she must obtain an average score of more than 70 points from the 4 different sections tested in the Beginner level paper and none of these sections should score below 50 points. If he or she has an average score of more than 50 points but less than 70 points, he or she would still be considered to have failed the Beginner level paper if any of the sections falls below 40 points. Under that situation, no grade will be given.

10. Preparatory Course: Starting this year, SKS begins to conduct preparatory courses for TOPIK Beginner and Intermediate. The course fee is S$481.50 for 20 lessons with each lesson lasting two hours each. Commencing in July, courses are conducted on every Tuesday and Thursday evening.

11. Study Aid: Past years test questions and answers are available at TOPIK's homepage.

Personal note about taking TOPIK - TOPIK requires students to use black marker pen instead of pencil to shade the answer sheet. This means that you cannot alter a wrong answer after you have shaded. Don't bother to change the answer sheet if you discover that you have done one question wrongly. It is just not worth it. You have at most only 1.5mins for every question. Changing the answer sheet and reshade is "suicidal". It can take away precious time for 3 to 4 questions worth about 12 points. Another point to note is that the passages in the reading section are quite long. There is no way to comprehend the full passage in 1.5mins unless you are so good that you can understand the passage in just a glance. So what I did was that I didn't even bother reading. I just picked any one answer.

Our teacher told us that student who obtains a 5th grade pass for TOPIK can apply to enter any Korean university directly without the need to attend further Korean language course. Personally, I find that TOPIK is much more challenging than KLPT and it requires more preparation work as well. In particular, I have to spend quite a bit of time practising my writing skill. The test is very thorough and I am unable to hide any of my inadequacies. This is a test that, I think, best indicates my level of proficiency. Of course, the test result will not show my conversational ability as this proficiency is not tested.


KLPT - Korean Language Proficiency Test (세계한국말인증시험)

1. Administrating Body: Korean Language Society

2. Singapore Test Centre: NUS Extension

3. Type of Test Paper: B-KLPT (Basic KLPT) and KLPT. B-KLPT is an easier paper. I am only talking about KLPT in this comparison.

4. Exam Date: Twice a year in Apr and Oct but in Singapore, KLPT is only conducted in Oct every year.

5. Test Fee: US$30 according to KLPT website but NEX charged S$125 (S$60 for NEX admin charge and S$65 for KLPT registration)

6. Test Duration: 110mins in total with 40mins for listening (40 MCQs) and 70mins for vocabulary, grammar and conversation (60 MCQs).

7. Test Score: 500 points in total. Each question is worth 5 points.

8. Test Paper Format: One set of paper with 100 questions. 40 MCQs on listening and 15 MCQs each on vocabulary, grammar, reading and conversation.

9. Grading System: The KLPT grading system is quite straightforward. Depending on how many point you score, the following level of proficiency will apply.

10. Preparatory Course: NEX also conducts preparatory course for KLPT. Students who wish to sign up for the course are required to take a placement test to determine their level. Currently, only KLPT elementary level course is conducted. The course fee is S$400 for 10 lessons with each lesson lasting 3 hours each. Commencing in August, course is conducted on every Saturday evening.

11. Study Aid: KLPT textbooks from elementary level to advanced level can be bought at S$45 each over the reception counter at NUS Extension, level 12, Park Mall.

Personal note about taking KLPT - Unlike TOPIK, KLPT allows the use of pencil for shading the answer sheet so wrong answer can still be salvaged at the very last minute. However, you probably can't find time to correct your answer. For listening portion, only 1min is given per question and that include the time for the question to be read out. For the rest, only about 1.17min is given for each question. You won't have time to translate words in your head nor will you have time to daydream. However, I always have this belief. I am taking this test simply because I am not good enough so why do I need to think so hard. If I don't understand the question, I just guess. At least I have 25% chance of getting the question right.

Frankly, I don't really know the market value of a KLPT certificate. I took the test more for practisng my Korean language. I think it is supposed to be used when someone would like to seek job in Korea or in a Korean company. Exactly what level is good enough to get a job is not something that I know.


  1. some 3rd-party notes:
    i took the topik test twice and strongly recommend the way of shading all answers at once when you finished all the questions. this saves you time switching back and forth between answer sheet and question sheets, which is always a huge distraction. but even so time is so limited that checking or re-considering a done question is almost impossible. just trust your gut.

  2. I also thought of doing that but that was only after the exam. Too late I guess. Shall try it out next year :)

  3. Thanks for the comparison and the useful tips. I may give the tests a try probably next year.

  4. There is a white book, which comes even before the green Beginners book.
    There is also a maroon book, see

  5. Spicebears, you should try the tests. Perhaps you will see me next year, cos' I may be retaking. I think I am already addicted to taking tests :D

    Seoyeong, I have never seen the white and maroon book before. I don't think NEX is selling any of these books. This is something new to me :)

  6. Hi! I took the B-TOPIK and beginner S-TOPIK last weekend and found the Business TOPIK much harder. In fact, on the TOPIK website ( they give the equivalency of marks: 152/400 in B-TOPIK = level 1 in S-TOPIK... 340/400 in B-TOPIK = level 4 in S-TOPIK. So B-TOPIK incorporates beginner and intermediate level questions with a particular focus on business vocabulary. B-TOPIK is also entirely multiple choice, unlike S-TOPIK.

  7. Dan, thanks for your inputs. Perhaps from my perspective, the B-TOPIK looks easier than S-TOPIK Intermediate. Anyway, in order not to give reader a wrong impression, I have removed my comparison of B and S TOPIK. Last but not least, 시험을 잘 보기 바랍니다... 파이팅! ^^

  8. I am taking TOPIK this Sunday for the Beginner paper and yea what you said on the comprehending passage part is true...I feel so stupid everytime I do that part ;_;
    I will come back to browse thru this site of yours (I stumbled upon thru google) after my TOPIK ;D

  9. good luck for your topik. 화이팅!

  10. Hi guys, do you think it's a must to take the preparatory course instead of self study before taking B-KLPT ?

  11. B-KLPT is the basic of the basic. I don't think it is worth spending too much money on it unless you are desperately in need of a certificate to find a job in Korea.

    I don't think preparatory course is a must. If teacher doesn't give homework and student dislikes doing homework then the course is a complete waste of time and money.

  12. which one KLPT or TOPIK? Is it must complete at least advance level in order to take KLPT or TOPIK test?

    where to take these course in singapore

  13. KLPT and TOPIK are proficiency test and not course. There is no requirement to complete any level of course to take the tests. Even if you self-learn, you cannot also apply. Check the website below (NEX conducts KLPT and SKS conducts SKS)



  14. I will be taking The Klpt this Sunday. I am taking the test to get into a Korean University and they require at least a 4 and up. So i am guessing that people who seek jobs in korea should atleast go for a 4 and if they get higher the better.

  15. It's worth noting that many universities accept TOPIK as their primary requirement. Particularly for post-grad work... I need a TOPIK 5 (plus other stuff of course) to get a PhD scholarship at Korea Univ. for instance.

    Anyway.. nice comparison of the two tests. Still having a hard time where they are sat in Australia so I guess it has to wait until I get back to Korea later this year.

  16. Thanks for this informative post....
    There is no KLPT in India :(
    I appeared in TOPIK for beginner level when I had completed 8 months of Korean study.. and I scored 95.75%…. I felt it very easy.
    Just to test whether I am ready to sit for Intermediate level, I checked some previous papers and I found there there is a huge gap between beginner and intermediate levels.
    I appeared for Intermediate level this year and I got 68%… was able to clear only level 3…
    I have shared my experiences and other information and materials on TOPIK on my new blog Please check it and give your valuable comments and suggestions.

  17. hi, i am from singapore can i asked u if i could apply to intern in korea tourism industry if i obtain a basic topik?

  18. i'm sorry, i've no knowledge.
    you may want to direct your enquiry to korean embassy. they may be able to help.

  19. TOPIKGUIDE, the first and only place on internet exclusively dedicated to Test of Proficiency in Korean(한국어능력시험). This Platform has been created keeping in mind the problems of thousands of people around the globe who appear in this test and spend hours and hours on Google looking for even a little hints and information on TOPIK in English but in vain. Let's make TOPIKGUIDE a rich study resource for TOPIK aspirants by sharing our ideas, preparation tips and experiences about TOPIK. you can also mail us your ideas about TOPIK in detail.

  20. so topik is more valuable than klpt? is it advisable to use klpt book for topik?