32 In Korean learning journey (:/ TOPIK

How long does it take to finish TOPIK 6?

another #notserious post!

After the previous post on “Hangukdrama, how much did you study everyday?“, I’ve come across another increasingly popular search term “How long does it take to finish TOPIK 6”. Since there are people out there who want an answer, I feel obliged to give my two cents on the issue!

My answer will be 5 years 4 months (hopefully!). Well, that’s the amount of time I will take to finish TOPIK 6, assuming that I’ll pass it this April. If not.. 6 years?

You: SIX FREAKING YEARS??! Are you just slow?

Me: I guess it’s .. normal? I don’t know. I started learning Korean in 2008, did TOPIK 4 in 2009 and TOPIK 5 in 2012, and hopefully 6 in 2013.. I’M FAST OK!

You: rubbish!! you are just slow. There’s a 3 year gap in between intermediate and advanced TOPIK!

Me: …. you don’t know what you are talking about. The level gap between the 2 papers is huge!

You: yeah. I’m sure *rolls eyes*

Me: *rolls back* oh well, I think you can rush out a level 5 within 2 years (if you do nothing but study Korean everyday) and a level 6 with 1 more year so that makes it… 1 + 2 + 1…. 4 years?

You: That sounds more reasonable.

Me: But what you will get is just a pretty certificate. I doubt you can be really fluent within 4 years. Unless you have been living in Korea for the past 4 years. Even then… language learning is not so easy. Do you think you have the true proficiency to match your paper credentials?


Imaginary conversation. I must be getting lonely :/

I think there is no real answer to this question. You can always rush it and study hardcore, but on the other hand you can be damn awesomely fluent but yet do not even have TOPIK certification (like some of my friends). So I actually don’t see a point for this question. If you are really interested in doing up til TOPIK 6, just give it your best shot and do it at your own comfortable (fast or slow) pace! Knowing how long people take to do it doesn’t make a difference. It doesn’t mean that you can definitely do it within that time frame, also, it doesn’t mean you can’t complete it faster.

Set your own goals and go for it. If you want to achieve it within 4 years, sure, by all means do it. Put in the utmost effort required but at the same time make sure that what you are aiming for is not an empty pretty certificate. Obviously if you want to achieve TOPIK 6 within 2 years or something….. maybe you should think again? If you want to take things slowly and achieve it in 10 years time, take your time to learn and appreciate the language!

I will do it within 5.5 years, but that figure shouldn’t mean anything to anyone else besides myself!

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    27 March, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    I’m so jealous of you for taking the TOPIK 6. That’s amazing~ I’ll take it someday later. You took it so fast though! I’m really impressed.

    • Reply
      28 March, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      you should really try it! 😀 I know it seems strange, but TOPIK is a fun exam to take!

      • Reply
        yuna onna
        12 September, 2014 at 8:10 PM

        Did you only ‘self-study’ or did you go into a school and learned there the language? And in which school did you go? in korea?

  • Reply
    27 March, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    so you’re saying topik 6 does not equal fluency. the same can be said for jlpt1. jlpt 1 is really tip of the iceberg if you’re going for fluency.

    i personally would never take those tests like for topik b.c. i’m not planning to live/work in korea and i don’t feel the need to take x hours of my day to register/take it/travel there and back to test my korean ability. I’d rather use that time actually doing something in korean o rjapanese… it’s the same with japanese.

    • Reply
      28 March, 2013 at 3:30 PM

      yeah that’s true. The fun part of language learning is learning and using it, not really aiming for that paper certification. But taking TOPIK does help. It kind of shows you where you are lacking and how you can improve yourself. Normally we won’t actually get exposed to Korean proverbs, but when you take TOPIK, you find yourself learning more proverbs and they are really fun to know!

  • Reply
    28 March, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    I know of people who passed jlpt1 by cramming the vocab and grammar to pass the test but they’re japanese isn’t that good. There’s a difference bt studying for a test to pass it to forget the information 1 week latter or maybe a month etc and actually have that information embedded in you via contact with that language

    • Reply
      28 March, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      totally agree! I hope to do both, pass the test and actually have the proficiency to match my paper credentials (:

  • Reply
    28 March, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    I aspire to do Topik 6 like your speed actually.I am planning to take the topik intermediate in oct and I would have learnt Korean for 2 mnths and 10 months by then.Within the next 3 years I want to achieve a topik 6 too cause i am planning to study full time university in Korea.I aspire to be a korean-english/korean-chinese translator

    • Reply
      28 March, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      that’s great! 😀 Sounds like quite decent pacing! You can do it ^^

  • Reply
    28 March, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    LOL! ur self-conversation is so funny.

    actually i think u’re pretty fast, or it’s just the right pace ^^ theres alot of people who passed yonsei level 6 who thinks that topik 5 is difficult to achieve. all the best!

    • Reply
      28 March, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      thanks!! 😀 ohh i didn’t know that. Probably there’s still a bit of a gap between the two levels!

  • Reply
    28 March, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Just for other other people who are interested – a level 5 is normally more than enough to get accepted in a Korean university. In fact, the reason the intermediate exam is so busy usually is because only level 4 is a requirement.

    Level 6 is a huge achievement. It isnt something that can easily be crammed. Whether you are able to really conervsate at that level is another thing but it isnt something you can cram for a few weeks and reach – you need a really exceptional understanding of the language to pass.

    I am taking the advanced TOPIK next month. Its my first time since passing level 4 last year. I have no confidence in passing even level 5 this time around.

    Anyway, your Korean is already awesome and you are what most korean learners aspire to be.

    • Reply
      28 March, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      haaha yeah sad to say my speaking skills won’t be up to that level even if I pass TOPIK 6 D: But I’m always improving and working on it 😀

      Good luck for the exam!! Even though we are taking the exams in different countries (I presume), it’s kinda cool to know that someone else taking it at the same time! ^^ Just try and have fun in the exam. Whether you pass or not, you will definitely learn something during the exam and know how to improve from there! 😀 I’m also looking forward to see where my weaker / stronger areas are!

      • Reply
        28 March, 2013 at 8:22 PM

        From what I’ve heard your speaking is pretty good, too. I showed a Korean friend and she was pretty impressed. ^^

        I’ll be taking it in Korea actually, haha. I’ve been living here for a couple of years now hence the interest in studying the language. Got a while to catch you up but I am enjoying the study. A proficiency exam isn’t a means for me to show off but merely a way for me to know how I am doing – I think it is as good a judging tool of that as anything else. You know as well as I do that a lot of the grammar and vocab on the exam is not entirely useful in everyday use but learning anything is useful someway or another when it comes to a language I think.

        I already know from practice exams I should do okay on grammar and listening… it’s the reading and writing that always has let me down.

        Anyway, best of luck. I hope you reach your goal!

        • Reply
          29 March, 2013 at 10:47 AM

          Thanks Sam! 😀 Hope you reach your goals too!! Try lang-8.com for the writing part ^^

  • Reply
    29 March, 2013 at 1:22 AM

    Wow thanks. I also have a question in mind.You see im 14 years of age and want to go to a korean university.I know this sounds crazy,however do you think i can somehow do the TOPIK exams and know the korean language fluently,so i can do my university years in korea.


    • Reply
      29 March, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      sure, if you work hard! ^^ Definitely not impossible. Just know your goals and put in the right amount of effort! ^^ Crazy-sounding things are sometimes the best goals to work towards!

  • Reply
    29 March, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    the Yonsei Level 6 equal to which TOPIK level? TOPIK 4 or 5

    i intend to study korean at Yonsei & then study for undergraduate.
    i hope you can help to answer the Qs.

    after Yonsei Level 6, what you can achieve in understanding the language in terms of Speaking , Writing, Listening ?

    i remember you have attended one of the lecture in Yonsei business class ?

    after level 6, how much can you understand the lecture ?
    how much can you understand the newspaper ? how many percent ?

    • Reply
      29 March, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      mmm I don’t think you can see a class as equivalent to a certain TOPIK level. There are definitely people of a wide range of proficiency in a single class. There are some that may be around a TOPIK 4-5 level, some 5, some 6 and some really really fluent. It really depends on how much effort you put in too! There are people who have taken level 6 classes but still aren’t that good in speaking, for example!

      What you can achieve after level 6 depends on yourself. How much of a lecture you can understand also depends on yourself. Finishing level 6 doesnt mean much since if you do decent enough in each level, you will probably be promoted to the next level? So you can just scrape through every class and get to level 6 too! If you are planning to take undergraduate studies in Korea, I think a better way to do it is to just work super hard from now on 😀 (enjoy the process of learning too!) Classes are just something to help you and guide you along in your studies, it shouldn’t mean everything in language learning.

  • Reply
    29 March, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    I think it’s a really hard question to handle because the answer can differ widely depending on someone’s circumstances. People who study Korean for hours everyday will get there much faster than someone who has other obligations and studies only an hour here and there. People who only know English before studying Korean will statistically take 3 times as long to get there as those who know Japanese. Those who know Chinese also get a huge learning time benefit when it comes to reading (compared to students who only know English), they’re probably twice as fast, especially at the higher levels.

    I suppose I’m most curious about why someone is asking the question in the first place. 🙂

    • Reply
      1 April, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      definitely. There’s really no straightforward method of calculating it but of course there are general correlations like what you mentioned – longer studying time probably means more proficient etc.

      I guess some want to know if their effort can be translated to results easily and to gauge how worth it it is to learn. I have friends who tell me that they probably wont want to spend more than a few years learning a language if it can’t be guaranteed that they will be proficient by then ><;;

  • Reply
    1 April, 2013 at 2:11 AM

    Aww this is so true. To be honest, I sometimes wonder about my motives of studying for TOPIK Advance. Because like you, I don’t believe TOPIK is any indication of fluency and proficiency. But I need an advanced certificate because I am likely to pursue further studies in Korea next year. While this is one of those “unavoidable” reasons for getting a cert, I don’t really like my reason of getting one at all :/ Even if I can pass level 5/6 next year, I highly doubt I am going to be really fluent at the language. Sigh. But I’m always telling myself that I won’t stop at TOPIK Advance even after it’s over xD

    • Reply
      1 April, 2013 at 10:40 AM

      hehe yeah let’s not stop even after getting the certification. I think we will be more motivated to strive harder actually 😀

  • Reply
    22 April, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    I started learning Christmas 2009, got a level 4 last December, just took the Advanced paper (pretty sure I’ve failed) but am hoping to retake in July and get a 5 … Think learning time differs for different people. I’ve worked in a Korean company for 2.5 years and so been around nothing but Korean. Working as and English teacher would have made learning much more difficult. Although maybe I’m being optimistic with only a 6 month gap between Int and Adv? Who knows haha.

    • Reply
      22 April, 2013 at 8:28 PM

      That’s pretty great progress! (:

  • Reply
    27 July, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    i started learning korean in april 2011 and got level 4 in august 2012 and got level 6 in april 2013 ….just in 2 years of studying korean..

    • Reply
      22 May, 2018 at 10:43 PM

      As you said, TOPIK 6 is not a big deal. If you are not one of those people that are bussy all the day, you can achieve TOPIK 6 in two years. A friend of mine went to live to Japan and he got the N1 in one year starting without any knowledge on the language, he even wrote his own book. The thing is that this TESTs does not represent a fluency in the language, it represents your understanding. The fluency in the language should take from 4-6 years.

  • Reply
    6 August, 2015 at 12:19 PM

    Hi, I’m new to this TOPIK thing although I’ve been (inconsistently) self-studying Korean for a few years now. Anyway, I plan to take TOPIK maybe next year in U.S. Seeing this post, I thought one could take TOPIK at once and a level is given depending on points acquired through the exam. So, if I want to one day get level 6, I first, must take each level and pass them? Sorry that I’m being so lazy but do you have a post that comprehensively explain the process of taking and passing the TOPIK exam/s? Thanks!

  • Reply
    4 August, 2017 at 2:31 PM

    Seems like it will take me more time than expected then, reading your blog post 🙂
    I’ve set myself to the goal of reaching TOPIK 6 in two years: myjourneytokoreanfluency.wordpress.com

  • Reply
    26 October, 2017 at 4:53 PM

    Came upon this while searching for TOPIK exam details. My plan is to apply for MBA in Korea so I am starting to learn Korean. I am pretty sure I cant reach high level in a years time but I plan to reach some intermediate level. The course I will be applying for would be in English, so TOPIK is more to help me adjust for life in Korea (If I get selected). I am in Singapore currently. Any advice on language schools and tips on how to go about it. I am working full time so can go for only evening classes or weekend.

    • Reply
      26 October, 2017 at 5:58 PM

      Hello! 🙂
      There are quite a number of language schools in Singapore, maybe you can look at schools that teach Korean only. Some names that I can think of offhand will be the SKIS (Singapore Korean International School), Sejong, Dehan etc. Some of them offer trial classes (I think), may want to check them out and find something that is suitable to your own learning style and needs.
      There are also online resources that you can tap onto. Can try talktomeinkorean.com 🙂

      • Reply
        27 October, 2017 at 12:49 PM

        Thank you for your advice, really appreciate it. I will check out all the schools and try to find something which suits my needs. Now doing all the research I can to set realistic targets for myself.

    Leave a Reply