TOPIK Vocabularies (어휘) Tips


Let’s get started with the most-feasibly-escalated-in-few-weeks skill, the Vocabularies.

Vocabularies (어휘) comes out in the very first session of the test, in one package with Grammar (문법). Out of 30 questions, each of them makes 15 questions. 13 first questions are vocabularies, then there will be other 13 grammar questions. The rest 4 questions consist of 2 essays in which test takers need to fill out the blanks, 2 of them are Vocabularies questions while the other 2 are Grammar ones.

Since TOPIK is a standardized test, it has static pattern. Let’s go through each part and we’ll also talk about how to increase our skill on each of them.

1. Questions #1-5: Fill out the blank

The first 5 questions are quite straightforward. There is one long sentence with a blank space between brace sign “(……..)” and we need to plug in the best word among four possible alternatives. Questions number 1-4 worth 3 points each while the 5th one has 4 points for correct answer.

One quite relaxing fact behind these 5 questions is that TOPIK makers do not randomly make questions of vocabularies. On the contrary, there is a ruling pattern over those five questions. Among 5 of them, 1 will be a question of adverb (부사), 1 of noun (명사), verb (동사) takes 1 space, 1 slot of adjective (형용사), and the last one will be either adjective or verb. (Mostly verb will have questions, and the other have 1 question each).

Here are some list of very useful words to prepare for the this type of questions:

Here is a sample taken from the 29th TOPIK test:

5. 달려오는 자전거를 (…… ) 못해서 다쳤다. (4점)

① 지나지 ② 나누지 ③ 피하지 ④ 던지지

2. Questions #6-9: Finding synonym

The next four questions will be about finding the word that has similar meaning with that of provided vocabulary. There will be a certain word that underlined, then we have to find its synonym among 4 alternative choices. Quite straightforward. The first 2 questions (#6 and #7) will give 3 points and the last two (#8 and #9) has 4 points each.

Just like the first five questions, in this part, there also exist a particular pattern. Each of Verb, Noun, Adjective, and Adverb has 1 slot of question, with no particular order. Therefore, reading this list of common TOPIK synonyms could be good help.

And here a question with this type that appears on the 29th TOPIK test:

9.  자동차 구입 후 문제가 있으면 3년간 무료로 수리를 받을 수 있다. (4점)

① 이상 ② 검사 ③ 부탁 ④ 차이

3. Questions #10-11: One word with several meanings

As we move forward, the test somehow gets quite harder. For this part (#10 and #11) we have to find one word that could fill out three blanks. Simply speaking, we need to find out one word with 3 meanings that can perfectly make out the sentences, all three of them. One question worth 4 points while the next one gives 3 points for correct answer.

Be very careful with this type of questions. Because each of the 4 alternatives normally can fit out to 1 (or sometimes even 2) sentence(s). We have to make sure that such word can give good meaning for the 3 sentences. Normally the sentences are ordered in the level of difficulty. Normally. So, if you really need to be fast, read only the 3rd sentence and find out the best word, since most of the times only 3 word can go there. But if you’re not sure, or if you aim for level 3, then reading all along from the first until the 3rd sentence would be better option. Once again, don’t fall into the trap!

The following is a sample question taken from the 29th TOPIK test.

10.  A question that worth 4 points.

  • 도서관에서 내가 정말 원하는 책을 (…. ).
  • 봄에는 산을 ( …..) 사람들이 많다.
  • 돈을 (….. ) 은행에 갔다.

① 읽다 ② 찾다 ③ 빌리다 ④ 오르다

To help you guys with this type of questions, here are some TOPIK Verbs with many meanings. Yes, they are verbs! Because only verbs that can have several meanings (even some times they have ‘adjectives’ meaning).

4. Questions #12-13: Antonym

Contrary to 2nd part, the questions #12 and #13 will ask the antonym (inverse/reverse) of provided (underlined) words. One of the words will be Adjective (형용사) and the other is Verb (동사). For those two questions, one will give 3 points and another one worth 4 points.

One thing that we need to highlight is that: since sometimes one word might have several meaning, so looking only to the underlined word can be dangerous, resulting in picking up wrong answer. Therefore, for this question, make sure that we get the meaning of the word on the right context, as asked by the question.

For better description, here is a sample of such question that appears on TOPIK 29.

13. 박주연 선수는 사고로 다리를 다쳐 경기에 나가지 못했다. (4점)
① 긴 ② 밝은 ③ 약한 ④ 가벼운

Here are some Common TOPIK Antonyms that would be helpful for the preparation.

5. Questions #28 & #30: Completing paragraph

The last part of the Vocabulary questions are on the end of the 어휘-문법 section, on question number 28 and 30. There will be two quite long readings, 3-4 sentences with two blanks brackets “(……”) for each reading, one is Grammar question and the other one is Vocabulary question. Based on the context of the reading, what are best words/clause for those blanks.

For #28, it is quite easy, since we only need to plugin word. The most common word that comes to fit this blank is Adverb (부사). So reading back Common TOPIK Adverbs to remember would be good preparation.

Then for the last question, it is going to be some proverbs (속담) which probably quite harder for many students who do not know Korean proverbs. We need to find out the best proverb that matches situation described in the passage. Here are some common Proverbs that could be useful.

Sample of question with proverb, taken from TOPIK 29.

30. 이제 편의점에서도 감기약 같은 간단한 의약품을 살 수 있다. 약국 문이닫힌 밤 이나 일요일에 약이 급히 필요하다 하더라도 더 이상 걱정하지 않아도 된다. 편의점은 1년 365일 쉬지 않기 때문이다. 하지만 이런 편리함은 도시 지역 에만 해당된다. 농촌 지역에는 편의점이 많지 않기 때문에 이런 편리함은 농촌 지역 사람들에게 여전히 ‘( …㉡ …)’인 것이다.

① 옥에 티 ② 그림의 떡 ③ 꿩 대신 닭 ④ 식은 죽 먹기

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