TOPIK Guide Books | 한국어능력시험 안내 책

I took a mock TOPIK last Wednesday night when I got home from work. Without any thoughts beforehand, I just took it. I didn’t review or anything. I didn’t skim through the test questions, except for the headings so I would know which PDF to open first.

Now, for today’s post, I’m going to talk about TOPIK Guide Books.

Complete Guide to the TOPIK by Darakwon

Complete Guide to the TOPIK by Darakwon

Please be advised that I don’t read such books, or have tried to read or skim through one so I’m judging based on my personal opinion. And I only speak for beginner levels, as I don’t know about the higher levels if guide books are highly necessary.

Way way back, whenever I go to our Korean library, I hurry to the media section where there are LOTS and LOTS of K-Drama box sets (I want to steal the 대장금 boxset >.<), and K-Pop CDs. As in super galore K-Goodies over there. But recently, now that I’m more focused on studying the language, the moment I get there, I hurry to the language section. I’ve seen a lot, from ‘재미있는 한국어 1-6’, ‘이화’, ‘연세’, ‘세종’, mouth-watering 사전s to the TOPIK guide books that I never checked. Not even once.

Why don’t I like TOPIK guide books?

I never had an argument with those books, or got in a fight with them or something ㅋㅋ. I just don’t like them. Even for just one time, passing the mock 30th TOPIK is enough for me to believe that TOPIK guide books are not much of a help (for beginner level that is, not speaking for higher levels). Even before, since elementary days, I don’t review before exams. I just don’t.

Why do people read TOPIK guide books?

To pass TOPIK, right? They need proper steps to walk them through the exam, analyze the exam parts piece by piece and practice the students by presenting mock exams. Instead of checking textbooks from start to finish, they choose a shortcut.

Why I’m learning the language?

Refer to my post here. But that aside, I’m learning the language because I want to learn the language, not so I could pass TOPIK. Of course, there are other reasons. You may want to study there, or work, or anything, but still, the main goal should be to study hard, not just pass TOPIK. My teacher would always say that there are TOPIK passers who fail greatly in speaking (not reading). They are well self-taught but they have no confidence to initiate small talks or immerse themselves in conversations. So with that said, you may pass TOPIK but you lack application and practice, so what’s your TOPIK then? Just a certificate?

What I like about TOPIK guide books?

Aside from my utmost respect to the authors, the things I would like about the books would be the word lists. It’s hard to study words if you’re not sure which words to study for your current level. Since TOPIK guide books have word lists (not sure if it has), it’s easier to know which words to study or focus on if you’re self-studying. Aside from that, I don’t think there’s anything more.

How to pass TOPIK then?

It’s still good to practice the older TOPIK exams rather than getting a book for yourself, especially, Korean learners may not be staying in Korea so getting hold of a book is like a waste. Instead, shelf out cash for good textbooks. And still, the most important pointer in passing the TOPIK is study, study, study.

Instead of giving myself an overview of the exam, I took the exam right away. I didn’t analyze the exam questions. I didn’t listen to the audio file prior to my mock exam. I just did it like it’s already exam day. Why? Because I want to experience the experience without spoiling myself about the technicalities and formats. You will learn about it eventually while taking the exam. It just happens fluidly since there are numerous instructions per section, so you won’t get wrong. If you can’t understand the instructions, it’s good to study the words that usually comes out, like ‘다음, 듣다, 알맞게, 틀린, 고르다… etc.’ Or if you’re on-the-spot, check the 보기, you’ll definitely get it.


I’m not saying that TOPIK guide books are rubbish or something you should stay away from. I’m just saying that TOPIK is just a proficiency exam. It’s more important to study the language, rather than the exam. We take the TOPIK not to be proficient but to KNOW if we’re proficient. Studying through TOPIK guide books is like taking a shortcut. I still feel like it’s better to study and review through textbooks and other educational materials that talks more particularly about grammar, vocabulary and uses.

Did you use a TOPIK guide book before you took the exam? Was it helpful? Let me know ^^


2 thoughts on “TOPIK Guide Books | 한국어능력시험 안내 책

  1. I didn’t use any Topik textbooks before the Topik tests. I just did the previous tests and I still could get high marks. However, now I am interested in using a Topik guide book called “TOPIK MASTER Final 실전 모의고사 – Intermediate”. It’s really interesting with many mock tests and it provides a detailed explanation. I can learn a lot from it. But I think tests in guide books are often harder than the real tests.

    • Yeah, maybe it’s getting more important as level increases, maybe I’ll check it out too if I get to that level. But I’ll be sure to rely more on my notes, my textbooks and stock knowledge. More especially, Korean Grammar in Use – Intermediate is a very good source of info.

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