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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.

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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 ^^

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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! >.<

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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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