120 TOPIK #23 – The Best TOPIK Writing Tips to Improve your Score

Inspiration

**Note: These are ALL the tips my Korean tutor has given me about my TOPIK Writing thus far. I’ll continue to update this post as I receive updated info. Bookmark it now if you think it’s useful.

First of all, there’s a big difference between the first essay type question (200-300 characters) and the second essay type question (600-700 characters):

  1. 설명문 = Explanatory writing (Question Type ONE) – explain the graph/chart/image
  2. 논설문 = Rhetorical/Editorial (Question Type TWO) – agree/disagree + argue for one side or the other by presenting logical arguments. Most important two points:
    1. Develop your ideas
    2. Support your ideas

Additionally, both types of writing are OBJECTIVE, not SUBJECTIVE – so there should be little to no opinions throughout – your opinion DOESN’T MATTER much, although it can be stated.

Consider both Essay questions as if writing for a Newspaper or other Publication.

General Writing Tips

  • For a good score – use a basic foundation + good vocabulary
    • Higher level vocab is more important than more complex grammar
      • Definitely 고급표현 (advanced expressions) are good BUT it’s MORE IMPORTANT that whatever you write is related to the CONTEXT
      • Simple = better if context = clear + good idea development
    • Don’t use vocab you don’t know well or it won’t make sense
    • ALSO, don’t use grammar you don’t know well or it won’t make sense
      • “자신있게 사용할 수 있는 문장, 단어를 쓰세요.” – Just write the sentences and vocab you know well
    • BETTER to use simpler vocab + simpler grammar + EXCELLENT idea development
    • The main point = IDEA DEVELOPMENT
  • Example of higher level vocab = anything based in Chinese Hanja (가 = 집 = house)
    • Chinese students have an advantage because 70% of Korean is based in Chinese
    • If Chinese students only learn the basics of Korean Hanja, they can guess the meanings of complex words because they know the Hanja
  • For better grammar, don’t focus on complicated grammar structures, but spend MOST of your energy learning TRANSITION words and phrases that are appropriate for report writing
    • The point = idea development, therefore, it follows, that after that, you should use transition words to DEVELOP your ideas and lead from one to the other (그리고, 그래서, …) (wait for another post on this topic coming later)
  • Memorization of long passages = big help
    • Memorize sentences in your grammar book
    • Memory = the BEST WAY to improve very quickly
    • Choose sentences that seem very practical and like you could use them often, then write out the sentences enough times until you’re able to speak them

(논설문) Editorial Format Tips

As with English writing, focus on STRUCTURE + find the relationship between the THREE Questions presented to you in the Writing task:

  1. Introduction (서론): present the situation & facts
  2. Body (본론): develop your ideas – give supporting/opposing points + supporting evidence
    1. Supporting idea 1
      1. Evidence/support
    2. Supporting idea 2
      1. Evidence/support
    3. Supporting idea 3
      1. Evidence/support
  3. Conclusion (결론): wrap up with solution or final thought

Tips to Quickly Improve your Writing

To help, FOUR suggestions:

  1. ALWAYS make an outline first to develop your ideas (개요)
    1. In fact, start practicing your Writing by making ONLY a 개요 for now, and get your tutor to approve the 개요, structure, and idea development BEFORE jumping into the full topic Writing of 600-700 characters
  2. Practice SUMMARIZING (요약) example TOPIK Writings – if you have a practice book with examples
    1. The act of reading through the examples + summarizing their main points will help you improve your own idea development
  3. MEMORIZE a handful of KEY expressions and sentences in each example writing so that you can put them to use in your own Writing
    1. EX: “개인적으로 …는 ~ 라고 생각한다.” = “Personally, I think sth is ____sth.”
  4. Practice with the 채점기준 (Grading Standards) (upcoming post about this)
    1. 설명문 채점기준 = Essay type ONE (200-300 char) Standards
    2. 논설문 채점기준 = Essay type TWO (600-700 char) Standards

Be careful of:

  • Subject (이/가, 은/는) + object (을/를) markers, don’t confuse them or you’ll confuse your reader
  • Use words CORRECTLY (word choice is a big deal – don’t choose the wrong words or it won’t make sense)
  • What is the MAIN POINT of each paragraph? Construct a great TOPIC SENTENCE
  • Use transition words to move between ideas
  • Make sure your supporting ideas aren’t too weak – write your 개요 (outline) to develop your framework of ideas

Upcoming Post Topics (Resources)

  1. Examples of 개요 (outlines) + worksheets to help you develop your ideas
  2. Useful transition words + TOPIK Writing expressions
  3. Grading standards for Explanation Writing (설명문 – type ONE)
  4. Grading standards for Editorial Writing (논설문 – type TWO)

Challenge

Get familiar with these TOPIK Writing tips and use them during your TOPIK Writing practice. If you haven’t started Writing practice, get to it!

Writing is the MOST difficult section for most foreigners, so it requires dedicated practice to get the most out of it. Practice your writing AT LEAST 2-3 times per week if not daily (in a short editorial-type diary).

Over to you:

What do you think of these Writing tips? If you’ve found them useful, please be sure to pass them on to someone else you know who needs them. And let me know how your Writing practice is going in the Comments below or on social media with #120TOPIK.

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