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.

What will be the validity period of  my TOPIK score ?
TOPIK score is valid for 2 years.


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



  1. Tan Jia Min says

    Hi Satish, first of all, thank you very much for your efforts in establishing this website, it is really good and very helpful. I have been reading it for a while.
    I would like to know why there is a validity period to the topik score and what this validity period means? I have just received my grade 2 cert n noticed this validity date which left me bewildered. Seeing that you mentioned it here, I guess you would be more clear on what it is? Do enlighten me ^^

  2. cherry says

    Hi , umm … i’ve been living in korea for about 2 and a half years now .. i’m taking this coming up test because i need the 3rd grade in order to get accepted in the Seoul national university .. anyways , i’ve been preparing for other tests and more important things and i had no time to prepare for TOPIK .. i’m pretty good at korean i just need any advise that could help me taking this upcoming test or any advice on the grammar i guess … i took the beginners level before and i got the 2nd grade i wish i could get the 4th grade this time if im lucky enough .. please help .!! any advice ! thanks man .

    • TOPIK GUIDE says

      Hi Cherry.. Thanks for your comment!
      I think you can get TOPIK Intermediate easily as you have been living in Korea for a long time and your spoken Korean is good.. You just need to get a bit familiar with the structure of the exam… Just solve one or two previous papers (like 26th and 25th) and you will feel confident and ready for the test….
      Wish you all the best and hope to see you in SNU campus… :)

  3. Anonymous says

    I am planning on writing the exam in October, but I am a little bit confused. There are 3 levels (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). How can we decide which level test to write? Is there a separate exam to decide which category I should be in?
    Thanks in advance!

    • TOPIK GUIDE says

      There are 3 separate tests for these 3 levels.. SO you will have to decide which level you want to appear for…

  4. SHUSHAN says


  5. Anonymous says

    Excellent website for english speaking folks who would like to take a TOPIK test. Easy layout and access. Keep up good work! Thanks so much!

  6. Anonymous says

    Hi, I would like to have suggestions how to learn writing Korean for TOPIK.Are there any good textbooks or websites where I can take lessons and improve my Korean essay writing?
    Thank you so much for your guidance.
    Hong Ha

  7. says

    Hi Ben,
    Yes, you are free to do grammar & writing part in any order… It’s the same paper..
    and yes your second point is also right.. you have to start the reading section just after the listening audio stops..
    All the best..

  8. says

    Hi, I have questions about the timing for beginner level:
    1. The first part (grammar & writing) is in one, undivided 90 min block, and you can start working on either part at any time, right?
    2. In the second part, listening takes up around 45 min, so there is another 45 min left to do the reading part, right?
    Thanks, Ben

  9. says

    @Linda Thanks for your appreciation..
    For practicing listening portion you should download 3 files: 1)the listening audio 2)the actual question paper and 3)The Guide question paper (It contains the text version of audio content).
    I have zipped all the needed file year-wise and uploaded them. yo can download with just a click. audio file can be downloaded separately.
    wish you all the best.

  10. says

    Hi ,thank you for putting these tests up. Your site is easier than the TOPIK site. I was wondering though, how can we practice for the listening portion? I am trying to take sample test 20 and the instructions say to circle the picture, but there are no pictures. How can we practice this portion?

Your comments/feedback/suggestions are highly appreciated