In December 2013,the National Institute for International Education has just uploaded the official announcement of the changes in Topik format on the official Topik page(

(The original news is in Korean, so I just translate it into English)

According to the website, the 33th Topik(January 19, 2014) and the 34th Topik (April 20, 2014) still use the current format of Topik. However,  the new format of the Topik will be applied since  the 35th Topik ( July 20, 2014) 

topiktransUpdate on June 13, 2014: the topik website uploaded the grading criteria for the passing score. For more information, please click this link

Grading criteria for determining each level Source :
Grading criteria for determining each level
Source :


English translation of grading criteria for determining each level
English translation of grading criteria for determining each level


 In general, I am quite pleased because in the new format of Topik, they eliminate the system “If any of your skills does not exceed the passing scores, you will fail.” In the previous topik exam, no matter how high the average score you have, you still fail if one of your skills do not exceed the passing score. For example, your average score of 4 skills is 51 which is qualified to pass Topik 1, but the score of your writing skill is 30, so you will fail. However, in the new Topik, you won’t have to worry about them any more.

 However,  I’m very worried when they eliminate the Vocabulary/Grammar section which is my favorite parts that always help me to get high scores. Now if I take the topik II(Intermediate-Advanced), I can only take the reading, listening and writing parts.

 I have just looked through the sample of the new topik part. In the new Topik I (Beginner), they eliminate the writing part. In the new Topik II (Intermediate-Advanced), they even eliminate the multiple choice in the writing part which is also my favorite to help me get high scores. You will have to fill in the blanks with your own words which are the most difficult parts.

Then you will have to write 2 ESSAYS and the topics are very difficult. In the previous intermediate topik exam, you only need to write a narrative or descriptive essay such as describing your dream house, your future job, your vacation. However in the new Topik exam, you have to write argumentative essays about some topics.  In the sample, you have to write a 200~300- character essay about the strength and weakness of Internet as well as how to use the Internet well. I’m quite shocked because the length of the essay they require is too short.



Then you have to write a 600~700-character essay about the environmental pollution. 

You can click on these links for more information

Answer sheet for the new topik format

The change of downloading previous Topik papers

Q&A about the changes of Topik


New OMR pen for the Topik exam

Grading criteria for the new Topik format in 2014

The announcement of the changes in Topik

Sample of TOPIK I (Beginner) with answer keys, script

Sample of TOPIK II(Intermediate-Advanced) with answer keys, script

Listening extract of new Topik I (beginner)

Listening extract of new Topik II (intermediate-advanced)

31 thoughts on “OFFICIAL CHANGES OF TOPIK 2014

  1. Oh dear oh dear… I’m not quite at the level where I can write anything about pollution or stuff like that. Either I need to make a quantum leap over the next 10 months or I need to postpone my “intermediate/advanced” TOPIK adventure to avoid total embarrassment. As a starting point I will aim for the quantum leap, but I will need to think carefully about my ability when we reach the sign-up period.


    1. Hello koreanlearner,
      Thank you very much for your comments. I think writing is the most scary section in the Topik. In the old Topik format, we can easily practice by writing essays with the subject repeated many times. However, with the new topik, we have to prepare more vocabularies in social skill.
      I agree with you about the big leap between Topik I and Topik II. They say that they want to make the Beginner topik exam easier to encourage more people taking the exam. However, in fact, the beginner certificate is not much valuable. If you want to work in Korean company or study abroad, you will need at least Topik 3. I always hope there will be a easier system for the intermediate Topik.


  2. Well then… Looks like I’ll be postponing taking TOPIK. XD I can’t write a good essay in another language on something like pollution. That’s a leap from writing about every day things. I’m guessing they’re going to grade the essays on how strong your arguments and examples are as well. In English? I got all the terms for ya. Korean? Hahahaha… ha… ha… >.>

    I’m still confused about the whole “intermediate/advanced” thing. Is the certificate going to say, “You have passed intermediate/advanced?” That seems so weird. Maybe the score on Topik II will determine if they categorize you as intermediate or advanced (i.e. just passing = int. high scores= adv.). I’m still against the grouping of levels 3-6 like that.

    So far, the only thing I like is that they got rid of “if you fail one part, you fail everything.”


    1. But even that is weird. There surely must be a lower boundary for when once can call oneself “intermediate” or advanced? What if one’s score in an area genuinely is too low for one’s ability to live up to the description of a level 3, are they then going to award a level 2 based on a test that doesn’t even include that level or will test takers either way get away with a level 3? I need to start spelling my way through these documents for some pointers about their future grading…


      1. I agree. It’s making a lot of things complicated. I still can’t wrap my head around it fully. They said they did it to make things simpler, but they went far from it. It’s like saying you’re either basic or advanced (but not really advanced because we’re gonna mix intermediate in there). I mean, we as language learners should never get too focused on what level we are, but if I’m taking a test for it, I’d like to know.


    2. Hello, darkfire382.
      Thanks for the comment. I heard that they will set the criteria to decide the level soon. Maybe we will have to wait.
      I start to worry about the writing part too.
      The first essay about how to use Internet well seems easy because they provide us some supporting ideas already, but the second essay with the environmental pollution will become harder. It seems that they want to make Topik more like Toef or ielts….


      1. Ah, so there’s going to be criteria to decide the level? :0 Okay, I’m gonna wait for that. In the meantime, lets heighten our writing skills. XD Maybe it’ll be good to start reading articles on news sites about these kinds of topics and then write mini essays as practice. I think I just found a solution omg yes. *-*


  3. Wow, so many changes! First of all, thanks for telling us these changes (and also thank you so much for the translation…^^)

    Since I’m a beginner I’m glad that in Topik I there won’t be no writting anymore (I sucked at it….) … Although for achieve the next level would be a very huge leap OMG!!! 2 essays about pollution/diseases and other social-politics topics would be very hard…

    I think it would be better if they have join Topik Beginner and Intermediate in “Topik I”. And then Topik Advanced to be “Topik 2”. In my opinion, that way the transition would be smoother. It’s like going from questions like 지금 뭐 해요? 지금…… to write an essay about the pros and the cons of smoking or the controversy of the stem cells…

    I’ve heard some rumours about including a speaking test, hopefully there isn’t ufff…. I’m a little bit shy ^^
    So, the next time that the Topik would be held in my country I will sign up for the new Topik I hehe


    1. Hello xuexiba
      Thanks for the comments. I don’t think that combining Beginner and Intermediate level or combing Intermediate and Advanced level is a good idea because there is a huge leap between each level. I think that taking 3 levels separately is better. ^^
      The Topik staff explains that they divide Topik I and Topik II to make the beginner test easier so that more people will take the Topik exam.
      I think that in the future they will add speaking skill soon.


  4. I am currently constructing my post about these TOPIK changes and I can’t contain my feelings about the new type! I am not sure if this new type of TOPIK will really determine the “proficiency” of the student in Korean. As what I have noticed, there’s only one type of exam for Level 3-6 which until now, I cannot comprehend why. Maybe because of the small gap between the grammar patterns of the intermediate and the advanced? I hope they released an information sheet about the goals of the new TOPIK and how can it measure the proficiency of the student.

    The writing part for Levels 3-6 is indeed challenging for students. I guess there will be major changes on how some TOPIK cram classes will be handled. We need more training on Korean writing and I hope there will be more Korean writing exercises, lessons and textbook that will be available.

    For now, let’s wait for the results and the grading system of the new TOPIK.


    1. Hello Alli,
      Thanks for the comments. I have just read your blog about the changes in topik. Thanks so much for the informative blog. The new topik format still has some unclear terms, that confuse all of us. I think that they will clarify and make some more announcements in the future. ^^

      I’m still quite confused when they combine intermediate and advanced level. It will become much more difficult to even get Topik 4 now =.= I’m not sure that I can get topik 4 again with the new topik format. In the previous test, I get topik 4 thanks to the high mark in the vocabulary and grammar section. My essay is such a disaster but 10 multiple choice questions help increase my writing score.

      However, now the new Topik format omit all the sections that help me gain scores. I also wonder how the new Topik format can truly reflect your Korean proficiency.


  5. Thank you for the translation. I followed this topic in a forum, and someone suggested that maybe the authorities of TOPIK initially wanted to change it into one type of test for all levels like TOEFL, but they considered it would be too cruel for starters, so they divided it into 2 types, instead of one. Two essays seem too much, though. ^^;


    1. Hello Korean Vitamin,
      Thanks for the comment. Thanks for the information. The topik staff also claim that they make Topik I easier so that more people will take the beginner test and grow more interest for the Korean. But the Intermediate and Advanced Exam is really difficult. In fact, I am very worried about Listening part more than the writing part.
      I still wonder why they haven’t uploaded the audio and the keys for the sample of the new Topik


    1. Hello Programming In Korean,
      Thanks for the comment. I heard that they will announce the criteria to grade the new topik exam soon.
      I suggesting writing Korean diaries every day can help you improve your writing skill. ^^


  6. Am I the only who agrees with the changes? Making the exam harder is being more realistic. If you want to be able to work in a Korean company or get along really well in a top university you need to know Korean. The exam shouldn’t be easier. It should be realistic. Some people who achieve a level 4 or 5 on the exam but still can’t hold a conversation with the local convenience store worker, let alone a co-worker in a large corporation…that’s uncalled for. It should be more like IELTS and TOEFL if it’s going to be a legitimate assessment of a person’s language proficiency.


    1. Hello, thanks for your comments.
      I agree with you that there should be a change to assess a person’s language proficiency. The current topik exam lacks the speaking skill which is one of the most important skill. It will be better if they integrate the speaking skill in the topik exam. However, I quite disagree when they combine the intermediate and advanced tests into one test.


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