Archive | October 2012

28th TOPIK experience

After ditching many TOPIK exams in the past, I finally took the Intermediate TOPIK last Sunday, all thanks to our persistent 선생님 who wouldn’t take no for an answer (and to Kim Sun Ah who decided to stay in Korea). It was both difficult and easy. Difficult for my level still. Sitting on the exam with my stored knowledge alone is not enough for me to pass it. But for someone who’ve prepared a lot the exam will be easy. Because of our review sessions, I was able to go through all sections of TOPIK 18th, 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th and have read all the essay questions from the 10th. And the vocabularies and grammars from those papers were basically the same ones that appeared on the 28th. That made me regret not preparing well. Because I’m positive I can get a level 3 if I only found time to review all my notes on all the papers I’ve tried.

The first question on the first part (vocabs and grammar) was such a downer though! I understood the sentence, but only understood 2 out of the 4 choices and I’m sure the answer is between the two that I do not know. I had to just guess (and luckily I guessed correctly). What kind of first question it was? The first question’s supposed to be a give away, right? Hahaha! The rest were okay, but, just like on the first question, I’m often torn between 2 answers.

Listening was okay. The first few questions, as expected, were fairly easy. But from the middle onwards, I was sometimes too slow and the next sound clip is already being played before I can even answer the previous question/s.

Writing was a bit frustrating. There was a question that I was so happy I understood everything except for the last sentence. But the question was based on THAT last sentence! The essay too almost caught me off guard. I’m glad I browsed through old essay questions thus I learned 단점. What if I didn’t? I would have nothing to say on that essay. 장점 was also a new word for me. In fact, at first, I just guessed its meaning from context. Though eventually I remember an expression of Kim Sun Ah from City Hall “사소한 말도 귀담아 들으시는구나. 되게 장점이다” and a vocab question from the 18th TOPIK that confirmed my understanding of the word. The thing is, it falls under the ‘personality’ category. The category I wasn’t able to practice at all. I prepared some possible answers about weakness and how to improve/change it but I haven’t wrote an essay about it. But I still attempted to write something and it was so much fun because I ended up writing lines from song lyrics and dramas here and there! I was even humming a song trying my best to remember the words from it. Does plagiarism apply in answering TOPIK essay?

Reading was a suicide! The text were so long and difficult. There were lots of words that I do not know. If one concentrates, even with new words, one can somehow make intelligent guesses. But I didn’t. I just read the paragraph once. Then guess. Read the next. Then guess. Until the time ran out.

It was loads of fun. Especially having to take it with lots of friends. Usually the intermediate exam room was dominated by kyopos. But this time we dominated them! Mwahaha! And no one ditched a TOPIK exam this time.

And even if I wasn’t able to really study and prepare well for the exam. I did learn a lot and it makes my heart flutter whenever I watch a drama or read stuff from Korean blogs or fan cafes and I can understand most of them now, all thanks to the things I’ve learned from reviewing for TOPIK. 🙂

I’m now more excited to take the next one (30th) on April. I’m not sure how heavy my load will be next semester, but I want to start studying for the next one right away and be consistent with it. We have 172 days before the next one! 화이팅!

By the way the 28th TOPIK papers and answer keys are now up on TOPIK’s official homepage and at Topik Guide.

Intermediate TOPIK Essay Questions

NOTE: Post edited to include the 31st TOPIK question.

I’ve compiled all the essay questions for the Intermediate TOPIK from the 10th to the 21st (the most recent one). I noticed that there are 3 types of questions (so far):

1. Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams

What hobby would you like to learn (31st)

What kind of house would you like to live in (25th)

What kind of life would you like to live 10 years from now (24th)

What kind of job would you like to have (23th) & (10th)

Who would you like to be (19th)

Who would you like to meet (13th)

How do you see yourself 10 years from now (12th)

2. Experience, Favorites

The time you want to return to (29th)

Most priced possession (27th)

Most memorable trip (26th)

Most memorable gift you’ve received (21st)

My favorite book (20th)

Favorite place/city (18th)

The thing that you need the most (17th)

My happiness (16th)

Unforgettable memory (14th)

3. Personality

What abilities/skills would like to have? (30th)

What are your strength and weakness? (28th)

What’s your weakness (22nd)

Your (bad) habit that you want to change (15th)

My personality (11th)

So I guess for the first category it will be helpful if we can familiarize ourselves words and with grammar that expresses the future, someone’s wants, desire, wish plans, dreams; grammar for reasoning; tons of adjectives. For the second category it’s will be good to review grammar that expresses past experiences; superlative/comparative adverbs (the best, the most); comparative words and tons of adjectives. And for the third character, it’ll be helpful to be more familiar with adjectives and vocabularies related to positive and negative personalities, characteristics, and habits.

I find the third category the most difficult. I hope the question on Sunday will not fall on that category. Well, I hope that the question on Sunday won’t be from a new category.

Here are the essay questions from the 10th to 28th Intermediate TOPIK papers:

10 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
11 Personality
12 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
13 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
14 Experience, Favorites
15 Personality
16 Experience, Favorites
17 Experience, Favorites
18 Experience, Favorites
19 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
20 Experience, Favorites
21 Experience, Favorites
22 Personality
23 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
24 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
25 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams
26 Experience, Favorites
27 Experience, Favorites
28 Personality
29 Experience, Favorites
30 Personality
31 Desire, Wants, Future, Plans, Dreams


여러분은 취미로 무엇을 배우고 싶습니까? ‘내가 취미로 배우고 싶은 것’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오.단,아래에 제시된 내용이 모두 포함되어야 합니다. 취미로 배우고 싶은 것은 무엇인가? (※ 한국어를 배우고 싶다는 내용은 쓰지 마십시오.) 왜 그것을 배우고 싶은가? 그것을 배운 후에 무엇을 하고 싶은가?


여러분은 다른 사람의 능력 중에서 가지고 싶은 능력이 있습니까? ‘내가 가지고싶은 능력’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두 포함 되어야 합니다. 어떤 능력을 가지고 싶은가? 왜 그 능력을 가지고 싶은가? 그 능력이 생기면 무엇을 하고 싶은가?


여러분은 살면서 다시 돌아가 보고 싶은 때가 있습니까? ‘내가 돌아가고 싶은 때’
라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된 내용이 모두 포함되어야
합니다. 언제로 돌아가고 싶은가? 그때로 돌아가고 싶은 이유는 무엇인가? 그때로 돌아가면 무엇을 하고 싶은가?


여러분은 어떤 장점과 단점을 가지고 있습니까? ‘나의 장점과 단점’이라는 제목
으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두 포함되어야 합니다.
장점은 무엇인가? 장점이 있어서 무엇이 좋은가?
단점은 무엇인가? 단점을 고치기 위해서 어떻게 해야 하는가?


여러분이 소중하게 생각해서 사랑하는 물건은 무엇입니까? ‘내가 가장 아끼는 물건’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된 내용이 모두 포함되어야 합니다.

가장 아끼는 물건은 무엇인가?
왜 그 물건을 아끼는가?
어떻게 그 물건을 가지게 되었는가?

여러분에게 가장 기억에 남는 여행이나 소풍, 나들이는 무엇입니까? 왜 가장
기억에 남습니까? ‘가장 기억에 남는 여행(소풍, 나들이)’이라는 제목으로 글을
쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두 포함되어야 합니다.

가장 기억에 남는 여행(소풍, 나들이)은 무엇인가?
왜 가장 기억에 남는가?
여러분은 어떤 집에서 살고 싶습니까? 그 이유는 무엇입니까? ‘내가 살고 싶은
집’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두 포함되어야

살고 싶은 집은 어떤 집인가?
왜 그런 집에서 살고 싶은가?

여러분은 10년 후에 어떻게 살고 싶습니까? 그 이유는 무엇입니까? ‘10년 후의
나의 계획’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두
포함되어야 합니다.

10년 후에 어떻게 살고 싶은가?
그 이유는 무엇인가?
무엇을 준비해야 하는가?

여러분은 갖고 싶은 직업이 있습니까? 그 이유는 무엇입니까? ‘갖고 싶은
직업’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두 포함되
어야 합니다.

갖고 싶은 직업은 무엇인가?
그 이유는 무엇인가?
무엇을 준비해야 하는가?

여러분은 단점이나 고치고 싶은 점이 있습니까? 그 이유는 무엇입니까? ‘내가
고쳐야 할 점’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시한 내용이 모두
포함되어야 합니다.

고치고 싶은 점은 무엇인가?
그 이유는 무엇인가?
그 점을 고치기 위해서 어떻게 해야 하는가?

여러분이 받은 선물 중에 가장 기억에 남는 것은 무엇이었습니까? ‘기억에 남는
선물’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된 내용이 모두 포함
되어야 합니다.

어떤 선물입니까?
그 선물은 누구한테서, 언제 받았습니까?
그 선물이 왜 기억에 남습니까?

‘내가 좋아하는 책’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된 내용이
모두 포함되어야 합니다.

가장 좋아하는 책은 무엇인가?
그 책은 어떤 내용인가?
그 책을 좋아하는 이유는 무엇인가?
여러분은 어떤 사람처럼 되고 싶습니까? 왜 그 사람처럼 되고 싶습니까?
‘내가 닮고 싶은 사람’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된 내용
이 모두 포함되어야 합니다.
닮고 싶은 사람은 누구인가?
왜 그 사람처럼 되고 싶은가?
그 사람처럼 되기 위해서 어떻게 해야 하는가?

여러분이 좋아하는 도시는 어디입니까? 왜 그곳을 좋아합니까? 여러분이 좋아
하는 도시나 지금 살고 있는 곳을 소개해 보십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된 내용이
모두 포함되어야 합니다.
도시의 이름과 위치, 유명한 것, 소개하는 이유

여러분에게 가장 필요한 물건은 무엇입니까? 어떤 물건이며 왜 그 물건이 필요
합니까? ‘가장 필요한 물건’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된
내용이 모두 포함되어야 합니다.
가장 필요한 물건이 무엇인가?
왜 그 물건이 필요한가?
그 물건을 얻기 위해 무엇을 해야 하는가?

‘내가 생각하는 행복’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오
언제 행복하다고 느꺼는가?
행복은 무엇이라고 생각하는가?
행복을 위해서 어떤 노력을 하는가?

여러분은 늦잠을 자거나 누워서 책을 보는 것과 같은 고치고 싶은 생활 습관이 있습니까? ‘고치고 싶은 나의 생활 습관’이라는 제목으로 글을 쓰십시오.
나의 나쁜 생활 습관
습관 떄문에 생기는 불편하거나 안 좋은 점
습관을 고치기 위해 해야 할 일

잊지 못할 추억
어떤 추억인가?
왜 지금까지 기억에 남아 있는가?
언제 그 추억이 떠오르는가?

꼭 만나 보고 싶은 사람
만나고 싶은 사람 소개, 만나고 싶은 이유, 만나면 하고 싶은 말이나 일

10년 후의 나의 모습’이라는 제목으로 글을 써 보십시오. 단, 아래에 제시된
내용이 모두 포함되어야 합니다.
일의 내용, 일의 의미와 가치, 현재의 나의 노력

‘나의 성격’이라는 제목으로 글을 써 보십시오.
성격의 특징, 장점과 단점, 고치고 싶은 부분과 그 이유

갖고 싶은 직업
직업명, 하는 일, 그 일을 하려는 이유, 그 일에 필요한 조건

TOPIK Essay Writing Strategies

A lot of those who’ve taken the Intermediate TOPIK said that the writing part is the most difficult is usually the sole reason why they fail. I’d still say that the reading part is still the most difficult for me however, on worst case scenario, I can always guess my way out of the gruesome reading part if my brain decides to shut down due to highfalutin word overload. But one could not do a “어느 것을 고를까요? 알아 맞춰보세요. 딩동댕!” on the blank squares of the essay writing paper.

My weakest points in answering the intermediate essay are 1.) staying away from the safe beginner grammar; 2.) time management; and 3.) making the essay long enough to reach at least 400 characters. For #1 and #2 I know it needs practice, practice and more practice. But for # 3, I’ve come up with some strategies that I would like to share. Please note though that I have no idea whether these strategies would work in terms of scores since it will be my first time to take the intermediate exam. But I think it’s also important to be able to write at least 400 characters. I hope that I can help those who are also struggling in filling out all the blank squares on the essay paper or maybe others can come up with their own strategies as well after reading mine.

How I prolong my essay for TOPIK Intermediate:

1. Kim Sun Ah. I relate everything with Kim Sun Ah. I always attempt to find a connection with Kim Sun Ah. Most memorable trip? A trip to Taiwan to meet Kim Sun Ah. Most prized possession? A gift from Kim Sun Ah. Dream job? To be a drama director and work with Kim Sun Ah. Favorite book? My Name Is Kim Sam Soon. Who I want to be like? Kim Sun Ah. Happiest moment? When I met Kim Sun Ah. Why? Well of course being her fan, it’s more interesting to write about her. But the real reason – it’s worth about a hundred characters already in introducing Kim Sun Ah, saying I’ve been a long time fan and why I like her. I’ve already prepared canned sentences in correct grammar (and words with correct spelling) explaining things about Kim Sun Ah.


My most prized possession is a pair of gloves I received from Korean actress Kim Sun Ah. Kim Sun Ah played the lead character from the phenomenal drama My Name Is Kim Sam Soon that aired in Korea last summer 2005. I’ve been a fan of Kim Sun Ah for a long time now not just because she is pretty and versatile but also because she has a warm heart and she treats her fans well. I received the gloves from her during….

My most memorable trip was my trip to Taiwan two years ago. I went there to attend a fan meeting of Korean actress Kim Sun Ah. Kim Sun Ah played the lead character from the phenomenal drama My Name Is Kim Sam Soon that aired in Korea last summer 2005. I’ve been a fan of Kim Sun Ah for a long time now not just because she is pretty and versatile but also because she has a warm heart and she treats her fans well. So when I heard that she’ll have a fan meeting in Taiwan, I decided to go…

My happiest moment is when I met Korean actress Kim Sun Ah. Kim Sun Ah played the lead character from the phenomenal drama My Name Is Kim Sam Soon that aired in Korea last summer 2005. I’ve been a fan of Kim Sun Ah for a long time now not just because she is pretty and versatile but also because she has a warm heart and she treats her fans well. I met her for the first time in…

I think this strategy could work well on questions regarding past experiences.

2. When I was a kid… and Recycling I actually learned this from a good friend and a fellow TOPIK taker. He often starts with “When I was a kid”. I usually use this strategy for questions about things you want/desire in the future (and I think it could work well with personality-related questions). What I do, I’ll usually start by describing what it was like when I was a kid – “…we are not well-off”. Then “…because of that I have vividly pictured what kind of house I want when I grow up/what kind of job I want/what I want to be.” Then I will describe what I want in detail. Then I’ll say “…but when I grew older I realized _____ is the most important thing”. Then I will “recycle” the previous sentences I’ve composed by repeating the details mentioned at the beginning and say that I don’t care about them anymore and restate what I want now.


I grew up from a poor family. Our house is old, small and I have to share my room with my brothers and sisters (big lie!). So ever since I was a kid I’ve already vividly pictured my dream house. Of course I want a really big two-storey house with a garden an attic and a garage for my own car. The ceilings will be high and it’ll be bright and colorful. It would be really nice if the sunlight and the breeze can enter well (sic). And I can enjoy a breathtaking view whenever I look outside the window. I will also have a big room of my own. But when I grew older, I realized that the most important thing is being able to live with the people you love under one roof. (recycling starts here!) So now it doesn’t matter if I’ll only have a bungalow in the future. Even if there’s no garden or attic or a garage it’ll be just fine. I can always share my room to anyone. No matter how simple our house will be as long as I am with my loved ones it’ll be the best house for me. (For how can you write about your dream house in 400-600 characters!!!)

Ever since I was a kid I have already pictured what I want to be in the future. I want to have a good paying job that I enjoy. I want to have a big house of my own. I will drive my own car. I’ll meet a really handsome, rich and gorgeous man and marry him. But now that I’ve grown older, I realized that the most important thing is blah blah blah. So it doesn’t matter whether I’ll have a good-paying job or not. A small apartment would do. I can take public transportation. And even if I won’t meet a rich handsome gorgeous guy it will be okay. As long as blah blah blah blah.

I also remind myself that truthfulness is not part of the score. I’m always tempted to answer the essay questions as truthful and honest as possible because the questions are almost always all too personal. But how can I compose a 400-character essay on how I see myself 10 years from now if I don’t even know what I want to do uhm… next year? The essays actually don’t have to be true. You can always make up stories anyway. So be creative.

Cramming for TOPIK

About 36 hours before my TOPIK Intermediate exam and I still think I am not ready for it. Although I attended a weekly review session with our dear 선생님 along with fellow 중급 takers, I wasn’t able to study much on my own outside those review sessions. I thought I could do some serious studying a week before the exam (after all it’s our 방학) but I ended up having to do remaining works on my subjects despite the supposed ‘vacation’ time.

So here I am, trying to cram everything in the next 36 hours. Of course I have to sleep, eat (okay, I can review while eating), do some volunteer activities, meet a friend, revise a wedding invitation, watch my dramas, memorize my new favorite 짝사랑 song, think about (and hopefully talk with) my crush and finish my readings on Korean linguistics (in Korean!!!) within those 36 hours too.

Yesterday I almost gave up. Not the i-will-not-take-the-test-anymore kind of giving up but a i-know-i-will-never-ever-pass-who-am-i-kidding kind of giving up. But we had a mock exam and I managed to pass Level 3 somehow (though there were some ‘cheatings’ involved like a previously reviewed section and an extended writing time plus a lot of luck on my guesses). My scores were too low that one or two mistakes could easily make me fail Level 3 but it kinda gave me some hope that, maybe… just maybe, if I study a bit more in the remaining hours I might be able to pass Level 3 at least.

Actually aside from personal satisfaction, there are really no pressing and urgent reasons to pass the exam. It’s not like I will not graduate if I’ll fail. It’s not even required if I will be applying for a scholarship. 그래도 성공하고 싶어요. Also I want to make our dear 선생님 happy. She exerted so much effort in reviewing us despite the fact that she is not getting paid for it and she’s equally busy with her work, study, volunteer activity and her upcoming wedding (and despite the fact that most of us, at one point or another, have ditched a review session, or dozed off during review, or pretended understanding the discussion even if our brains have shut down). I know that all she wants is for us to do our best and try taking the exam and passing or failing is not important. But still, I’m sure she’ll be happier and proud if we’ll pass.

So, I’m gonna cram as much as I can in the next few hours. Good luck to everyone taking the exam on Sunday! A shoutout to sydneytoseoul who’s currently cramming for TOPIK as well. 우리 화이팅!

What is your number 18?

I was googling some Korean song lyrics yesterday when I first encountered “This song is my # 18”. Does it mean my 18th favorite song on my top 20 fave list? And what’s the big deal if it’s the 18th? It’s not like your number 3 or 2 or 1. I later learned that “My # 18” means the song that I can sing the best.

And this morning, as I was watching Episode 5 of Ohlala Couple, I encountered that expression again. Soo Nam (on Yeo Ok’s body) was blurting some classical song when his mother (Yeo Ok’s mother-in-law) asked him (thinking it was her daughter-in-law) to turn the radio off.

니 18번이 ‘밤 비 내린 영동교’잖니!

Isn’t your # 18 “Night Rain Falling on Yeong-dong Bridge”? How come you are suddenly on classical music?

But why 18? What’s with the number 18?

A Korean friend briefly told me the expressin originated from Japan and later on spread in Korea as well with a slight modification on the original meaning (and he didn’t elaborate further! :p).

I found THIS on Daum 지식. And according to the answers, it has something to do with Japanese culture. One explained it further saying it has something to do with Kabuki – a classical Japanese dance-drama. Though # 18 means one’s favorite song, usually it also has the meaning of the best and most interesting thing. And the latter meaning is the one that originated from Japan. Anyway, in Kabuki theaters there is usually an intermission in between scenes. The intermission is a popular one-act play that are separated into 18 parts distributed all throughout the kabuki performance. And usually the last part of these one-act plays, the 18th, is the best, most interesting and most popular. Therefore these meanings (best, most interesting) is attached to the number 18. And probably where the expression “What’s your number 18?”, which is frequently used in noraebangs, originated from.

I’m not sure about the accuracy of this information though. I don’t know much about Kabuki either. I just relied on the answer I found on Daum. I am not even sure whether my understanding is 100% correct or not. If you know more about this expression and why and how it started, leave a comment below. 🙂

Sadly I don’t think I have a # 18. I don’t sing very well. 😦

How about you guys? What’s your # 18?