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.

examples:

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.

examples:

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.

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6 thoughts on “TOPIK Essay Writing Strategies

  1. I was always quite creative when I wrote my Topik essays. I forgot the intermediate topik essay but I remember for the beginning Topik essay I gave my parents and family members all kinds of random jobs I knew how to spell but did coincide at all with reality.

    Good luck!

    • A friend, who also realized that one doesn’t need to be truthful on their essay, happily told us that her parents suddenly became 선생님 and 유리사 because she can’t remember what’s 기사 and doesn’t know what’s 주부.. Most of my classmates who took the intermediate one today also made up lots of different personalities (or question was “What’s your strength? What’s your weakness?” I ended up answering truthfully O.o! But I did write lyrics from a song and lines from dramas. Hahaha!

  2. Alot of good info here alodia. I almost thought of taking the topik this october but have been in a job change the last few months. I’m thinking of going for it next year to have some goals for measuring progress. Thanks for the info!

  3. Now I know I don’t need to be truthful and can just make up stories as long as it fits the criteria. 😀 During my 1st TOPIK experience (초급) I was frustrated thinking on how I can fill up the writing section thinking so hard for my English-thought honest essay. XD

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