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5 Reasons Why the TOPIK Reading Test is Challenging

Thumbnail for blog post on preparing for the TOPIK Reading Test


Learning any language is a challenging endeavor, and Korean, with its unique grammar and pronunciation, poses a significant challenge for many foreign students. Among the various aspects of learning Korean, the ‘TOPIK Reading Test‘ is notoriously difficult. Why do so many students struggle with this test? To answer this, we have prepared this article based on interviews with Korean language learners and experts, analysis of numerous study materials, and real test experiences.

In this article, we will discuss the five main reasons why students struggle with the TOPIK Reading Test and provide practical solutions for each. These tips, aimed at students studying in Korean universities and learners worldwide, will not only help pass the test but also improve Korean reading skills.

Illustration of a student studying Korean by reading a book
Why do students find the TOPIK reading test difficult?

Let’s explore why many students find this test challenging and how to overcome these difficulties with confidence.

5 Difficulties in TOPIK Reading Test

1. Issue of Time Management

One of the biggest hurdles in the TOPIK Reading Test is managing time effectively. Completing 50 questions in 70 minutes without a strategic approach to time distribution is challenging. Most students try to read each passage thoroughly, but this method is inefficient. Instead, focusing on quickly identifying the main sentences and extracting necessary information is crucial. Developing fast reading skills through practice and understanding the types of questions to allocate time effectively is essential.

Illustration of a student struggling with studying for the TOPIK Reading Test
Students who have difficulty taking the TOPIK reading test

2. Lack of Confidence

Another common problem among students is excessive fear of unknown words. Understanding the overall context is more important than knowing every single word. Practicing to infer the meanings of unknown words from the context can help grasp the overall meaning without being swayed by unfamiliar vocabulary. Gradually building vocabulary through natural exposure to new words is also important.

Illustration of a student looking tense during the TOPIK test
Students who lack confidence in TOPIK test

3. Difficulty with Hanja(Sino-Korean) Words

Hanja words (Sino-Korean words) in Korean often pose a challenge for learners. However, knowing basic words is a necessity. For example, words containing ‘관(觀)’ usually have a meaning related to ‘seeing.’ Recognizing and memorizing such patterns make approaching Hanja words easier. Creating a list of frequently used Hanja words and regularly studying them is beneficial.

4. Unfamiliarity with Test Formats

Going into the test without knowing the types of questions is a disadvantage. Understanding the main formats and patterns of the TOPIK Reading Test and practicing accordingly is important. Analyzing past papers and practicing similar types of questions can enhance understanding and performance in the actual test.

5. Lack of Quick Reading Skills

Finally, lacking quick reading skills is a significant obstacle in the TOPIK Reading Test. Familiarity with the Korean language is the first step, and increasing the time spent reading various Korean materials is necessary. Also, practicing to understand the structure of the texts and quickly identifying the main and supporting sentences is crucial. For this purpose, it is recommended to practice reading Korean texts of various genres, such as articles, novels, and essays.

Illustration of a student feeling proud after succeeding in the TOPIK Reading Test preparation
If you practice on TOPIK test, you can get high scores!

Throughout this article, we have examined the five main challenges students face in the TOPIK Reading Test and offered practical solutions for each. These tips are not only essential for passing the test but also for improving overall Korean reading skills. By implementing these strategies, you can overcome the fear of the TOPIK Reading Test and achieve higher scores.

Remember, no test preparation is complete without systematic guidance and practice. Chapter Korean offers specialized courses to prepare you for the TOPIK Reading Test. Our courses evaluate your overall Korean language skills and provide customized guidance tailored to your individual needs and goals. Taking our courses is the best way to achieve your desired score in the TOPIK 6 level.

Visit Chapter Korean today to find the most suitable course for your Korean learning journey. Let’s take the first step together towards enhancing your Korean skills and succeeding in the TOPIK test!

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