41 In Korean learning journey (:


Myyong asked if I could do a post comparing the 2 proficiency tests, and here it is~! ^^ Some of the information only pertains to Singapore.



Quick Facts!

  • 3 times a year (Feb, Apr, Sept) – Feb only for Korea. Sept only for Singapore
  • Test fee: S$80 @ Singapore Korean School (SKS)
  • TOPIK elementary/ intermediate / advanced, B-TOPIK (business TOPIK)
  • 180 min (90 min grammar&writing, 90 min listening&reading)
  • 400 marks in total, 100 per section
  • Official Site: Korean

More info: Each multiple choice carry either 3 or 4 marks. The essay is worth 30 marks.

1. TOPIK elementary (Level 1/2)

2. TOPIK intermediate (Level 3/4)

3. TOPIK advanced (Level 5/6)

The grading system is more robust. To obtain the lower level pass for the paper, one must get an average score of >50 marks for the 4 sections and NOT get less than 40 marks for any section. To obtain the higher level pass for the paper one must obtain an average score of >70 marks for the 4 sections and NOT get less than 40 marks for any section. Past year papers can be obtained at the site.

* NOTE: A separate post on how to access those papers will be up soon for those who need it! ^^

Go under the cut for more~!

Uses: TOPIK seems to be more recognized in Korea and a min of Level 4 is required if you want to study in Korean universities.

My Opinions: The writing component is well-known as the killer section. For me, the essay is less of a problem compared to the short answer questions >.< Practice comes in handy here! One of my gripes is that we can only use a special black marker pen for the OMR sheet. SHEEET. >.< This means that you can’t change your answers at all, so just be confident when you mark the sheet! TOPIK definitely requires more preparation time and the practice papers are a great way to gauge your standard and decide which test to go for. I’ve only taken TOPIK once (the intermediate level) while I’ve taken KLPT twice. So I’ll have more to say on that ^^


Quick Facts!

  • 4 times a year (4th Sunday in Jan, Apr, Jul, Oct) – Oct only for Singapore
  • Test fee: S$125 @ NUS Extension (NEX)
  • KLPT and B-KLPT (Basic KLPT)
  • 110 min (40 min listening, 70 min for the rest)
  • All MCQs, no writing component
  • 100 questions, 500 marks in total
  • Official Site: English / Korean

More info: Unlike TOPIK, there is only one paper for KLPT. All applicants take the same paper, and your grade/level is determined by the score you get. The questions are usually arranged in order of difficulty, with the most difficult questions (level 5/6) at the back.

Uses: Supposedly useful if you want to find work in Korea. However, if you get perfect score but still isn’t fluent, I guess it’s of not much use too. Not that useful for academic purposes. Most universities seem to either use TOPIK or have their own proficiency test.

My Opinions: The general consensus seem to be that KLPT is easier than TOPIK because of the lack of writing component. However, KLPT is not easier in other aspects. Personally, I find the  TOPIK listening really s.l.o.w and the KLPT one is much more modeled after natural speed. The reading passages are longer and much more challenging compared to those in TOPIK. So the difficulty level is balanced out.

Speed is important in the test. Don’t spend too much time agonising over the answers. Just go with your gut feeling if in doubt. Speed reading is a must-have skill. But since it’s all multiple choice, just shade something. DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING BLANK. ^^

KLPT uses pencil for the OMR sheet, so you can change your answers~!

Because of the much higher cost of KLPT in Singapore, I’ll not recommend to take it every year. But rather, take it only when you have the confidence to jump at least 2 levels!

Oh. And do not take the B-KLPT. That’s just a waste of time and money! >.<


In conclusion: Paper-based tests are not accurate means of gauging proficiency, whatever their claims are. In particular, none of the tests include a particularly robust writing component. There’s no proper reading comprehension tests, unlike those we are so familiar with in our secondary/JC school days. Speaking component is conspicuously missing, which I’m sure all of us are rejoicing ^^ It saved our butt and allows us to get high scores while in actual, our competency in the language is lacking. (me for example)

Just take the test scores as a rough gauge of where you are, but the real test is when you are in Korea. Can you survive in ALL domains of life? ^^

For another comparison post, check out Equinox!

Here’s my take on the 2 tests. Please share your experiences too!! Looking forward to hear from you~!

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  • Reply
    2 May, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    Too bad there’s no TOPIK here in the Philippines. Thank you very much for posting this up! I’m looking forward for my KLPT and what results I’ll get but I agree with you that these kind of test does not prove how fluent a person is in a language. Some maybe good in speaking but may lack in writing and such or it can be another way around. The real test is in our daily life with native speakers, their culture and what’s going on in that country.

    The only thing I like about taking these kind of tests is the challenge. Challenging yourself to gain a certain level or assuring yourself that you can do it.

    Thank you Shanna^^

    • Reply
      2 May, 2010 at 3:36 PM

      yes! it feels good when you attain your goals (: It feels like all the hard work paid off!

    • Reply
      23 January, 2011 at 12:59 AM

      there’s actually TOPIK in the Philippines too, now. ^^

      • Reply
        9 May, 2011 at 1:15 PM

        hi, I am thinking of taking the TOPIK, too, this September. Do you know where can I take the test and how could I register for it?

      • Reply
        19 May, 2011 at 1:11 AM

        Hi jody! I’m not sure where and when. You can go to the topik’s homepage for updates. But I’m sure there are no information for the next one yet. We usually get the forms from our 선생님s in our university and they are the ones who submit them. I’ll be posting it on my blog once the registration starts. I can get a form for you too if you want. Just contact me on my blog. I’m also planning to take TOPIK this September. I hope to see you there! ^^

      • Reply
        19 May, 2011 at 12:02 PM

        thanks, alodia! ^^

  • Reply
    2 May, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    I agree that TOPIK’s listening is sssssloooooooowwwww. Our teacher let us listen to an example during class, my gosh, I think it’ll be hard staying awake D:

    &…….. I didn’t know these tests cost so much O__O

    • Reply
      2 May, 2010 at 10:43 PM

      hahaha! Especially when they are reading out the instructions. XD

  • Reply
    3 May, 2010 at 1:15 AM

    Earlier, I was browsing through TOPIK’s site with the practice papers. What does the stated A/B 형 refer to? The recent 2010 released papers are only B 형.
    Thank in advanced !!

    • Reply
      3 May, 2010 at 9:30 AM

      A 형 is only applicable for those in America, Europe and Oceania. Asia uses B형! ^^

  • Reply
    6 May, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    Whoohoo thank you for posting this.
    Didnt know there are so many things about TOPIK and KLPT.
    TOPIK shall be my goal. ;D
    Still a long long way to go.

    • Reply
      6 May, 2010 at 11:28 AM

      Glad you found it useful! ^^ You can definitely reach your goal! 화이팅!

  • Reply
    6 May, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    Nice comparison… not many out there so was worth hearing the perspective of someone that has taken both tests. I’ll be taking TOPIK when I return to Korea later this year, so I guess it’s time to start the practice tests :/

    • Reply
      9 May, 2010 at 2:06 PM

      Hi Andee! ^^ How long have you been learning Korean? Just went to your site and it’s amazing (: will be visiting regularly from now on!

      • Reply
        9 May, 2010 at 4:01 PM

        Thanks for visiting ^^ ..Hopefully we’ll get around to putting some Korean podcast kinda things on there once there’s some more free time 🙂

        I’ve been studying Korean for [insert really long time] 😛 ..I learnt to read about 6-7 years ago I guess and just plodded along not really learning much other than grammar until I first went to Seoul in 2005… then I basically stopped studying until I went back to Korea in late 2007. So… It’s 7 years technically kk …but not really if you know what I mean ha

  • Reply
    7 May, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    wonderful post!

  • Reply
    Satish Chandra satyarthi
    4 June, 2010 at 4:26 AM

    There is no KLPT in India 🙁
    I appeared in TOPIK for beginner level when I had completed 8 months of Korean study.. and I scored 95.75%…. I felt it very easy.
    Just to test whether I am ready to sit for Intermediate level, I checked some previous papers and I found there there is a huge gap between beginner and intermediate levels.
    I appeared for Intermediate level this year and I got 68%… was able to clear only level 3…
    I have shared my experiences and other information and materials on TOPIK on my new blog http://topikexam.wordpress.com. Please check it and give your valuable comments and suggestions.

    • Reply
      4 June, 2010 at 12:33 PM

      wow i visited your blog and i really liked it! ^^ Will be a regular visitor from now on. I’ll add you to my blogroll~
      I didn’t take the beginner level, but there is a really huge gap between the intermediate and advanced level too!

      • Reply
        Satish Chandra satyarthi
        4 June, 2010 at 3:44 PM

        Thank You for visiting my blog and giving your comment. And Thank You So Much for being so kind to add my blog to your blogroll. 🙂

  • Reply
    7 June, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    I understand that KLPT & TOPIK are both “Korean Proficiency Test” and learner can choose whether to take KLPT or TOPIK or both. But I heard that KLPT certificate is only valid for 2 years. Does it is mean that, after 2 years from the issuing of KLPT certificate, the certificate is “No Value” anymore? And what is the validity for TOPIK certificate? Is it valid for a lifetime?

    • Reply
      7 June, 2010 at 4:34 PM

      Although it does say that KLPT cert is valid for 2 years, it still has value after the 2 years! Especially if your cert is of advanced level. It will prob be stupid to ask you to retake KLPT every 2 yrs when you alr attained level 6!

      As for the TOPIK cert, there’s no official note on ‘validity’. Like the same for KLPT, I feel that the TOPIK cert is only ‘valuable’ if you have attained at least a level 4 – which is the minimum requirement to enter Korean universities etc.

  • Reply
    21 June, 2010 at 3:54 AM

    I plan to take both the TOPIK and KLPT this year. I’m just taking them for fun, so I don’t care about usefulness. Still, I hope to sit the advanced TOPIK instead of the intermediate one. even though I probably won’t be ready for it. Nonetheless, you can change your answers on these tests. People just use white out. 화이팅!

    • Reply
      26 June, 2010 at 8:26 PM

      haha ohh! i’m paranoid about using white-out. >.< i'll keep thinking that the machine wont be able to read the answer

  • Reply
    26 September, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. I am really confused by KLPT and TOPIK but now I understand well the difference. I think I will try for the TOPIK next year but is it only available in Sep? The TOPIK website is all Korean, with my current level, I can’t tell.

    • Reply
      27 September, 2010 at 6:25 PM

      yup it’s only available in sep in singapore~

  • Reply
    13 December, 2010 at 4:33 PM

    Recently I created a blog ( http://www.topikguide.in ) exclusively for TOPIK. It’s just in the beginning phase now but I am trying to put as much useful information and resources as I can. I had also put an explanation on how to download papers from TOPIK site. But some readers told me that it’s really a tedious task to download papers from the official TOPIK site, especially for beginners in Korean language. So I have just given the links of all TOPIK papers with answers and audio files on this blog. Putting here the info just because it might be useful for some people. Thanks. ^^

  • Reply
    Song yi
    24 February, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    Hello!! It’s my first time here!! I’m writing from Italy!
    I have a question: is there a web-site where i can buy books for TOPIK?
    Thanks a lot.
    Song Yi

  • Reply
    12 May, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    I’ve been thinking about taking TOPIK for fun, and yea…half of me is rejoicing at the missing speaking component, the other half of me wishes there was one so that we’d be force to improve our speaking skills. At least then it’ll be a more fair assessment…but oh well.

    Still thinking….ㅋㅋㅋ

  • Reply
    ronald zulueta
    25 July, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    i would like to take classes for me to go to korea again..i was there for three years but when my contractr ended on 2008,i decided to try my luck here in the phillipines unfortunately nothing good came out of it..so im thinking of going back there again..though i stayed there for three years,i am not that fluent in hangeul..where can i go to have class for language training and if september is the next test,when in september?is ok for us to take the test even if we did not take language training?i mean is it really necessary to enroll to a language training center?please send me all information about this..thanks for those who will reply and inform me about it…..thansk

    • Reply
      25 July, 2011 at 8:48 AM

      I cant answer all your questions but it is not necessary to enroll to a language training centre. It depends on the individual and urm you can not have langauge training but of course you should have a certain proficiency level in order to take the test. As you know, there are 3 levels for the tests, so it depends on which level you feel confident to take the test in.

      If your country offers the test in september, it will be on 18 Sept 2011 but the application period should be now (or ending soon)

  • Reply
    ronald zulueta
    25 July, 2011 at 8:15 AM

    oh and i’m from olongapo city philippines..thanks again

  • Reply
    ronald zulueta
    26 July, 2011 at 4:17 AM

    thanks for the useful and juicy information you told me,i really appreciate it..i will try to research where will the next test be held..thanks again..

  • Reply
    5 January, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    thanks for the information ^^ do you know to register for the TOPIK test in SIngapore? Gomawo 😀

  • Reply
    13 January, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    hihi…thanks for the useful information! made me have more understanding about TOPIK. I stil have doubts which i would like to clarify. So is there a certificate given after each level test?

    • Reply
      13 January, 2012 at 3:46 PM

      if you pass the level, you will get the certificate

      • Reply
        13 January, 2012 at 10:10 PM

        I believe they give out certificates even if you fail… here in the Philippines at least… (I don’t see the point though… a proof that you didn’t do well? Well, maybe to certify that you did take the exam. O.o )

  • Reply
    Language podcasts and proficiency tests. | Hanaji 花血
    13 February, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    […] I’m hoping I can go and stay with relatives and get to the test from there. I came across this good article at Hangukdrama (I admire her efforts in self-learning) about ‘KLPT vs TOPIK’ or in […]

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