Learn how to write TOPIK essays well using Wongoji writing guidelines

The following are Wongoji basic writing guidelines that I found in a Nonsul (essay) notebook by PAPIER co, LTD. I've translated them into English to help you better understand how to properly write essays using Wongoji papers (which is what the TOPIK test uses as well). Wongoji instructions

Download Wongoji essay writing instructions PDF

The directions are included on the PDF print-out above, but here they are again for clarity:

Wongoji Basic Cryptography

By default, there aren’t any implicit principles for using wongoji. But usually using wongoji, there are some general forms to follow. Essay wongoji were created to easily identify the fundamental elements of spelling, spacing, and so on. More than that, by dividing paragraphs, you can easily identify contents and see how much you’re writing. Therefore, certain forms will equip you with the ability to write descriptive paragraphs, so that when the grader first sees your writing, they’ll be left with a positive first impression.
  1. In one box, write one character. Only for the alphabet (lowercase) and Arabian numbers should 2 characters be used in one box, but every sentence mark should also have its own box. (Uppercase alphabet characters also need their own box.)
  2. For paragraphs, the first box should be left blank and you should start writing from the second box. This means it’s a new paragraph. Only do this for a new paragraph. (If there’s no empty box to leave a space between words in a line, don’t leave the next line’s first space blank. Rather, put a (V) mark after the last character and begin the next line with a consonant.)
  3.  Spacing and spelling rules should be followed, but when there’s a sentence mark that should usually be followed by a space like a comma (,) or period (.), generally don’t leave a blank.
  4.  Exclamation marks (!) or question marks (?) should be written in the center of the box, but quotation marks ( “ ” ) commas (,) and periods (.) should be written in the corner of the box nearest the letters they affect.
  5.  In the case that a sentence mark should be stamped at the end of a line, it shouldn’t be carried down to the next line, but rather placed inside the last box on that line. Starting a line with ‘.’ or ‘,’ should be carefully avoided.
  6.  When writing a dialogue, change to the next line for each full quotation mark ( “ ” ). The first box should be left blank and quotation marks should come in the second box.

FREE Practice Papers

Also, if you want, I’ve also created our own FREE 원고지 Practice Papers that you can use to practice. Screen shot 2013-05-11 at 8.02.03 AM

Download Practice Wongoji PDF

Do you practice your TOPIK essays with wongoji? Do you find this resources helpful?

6 comments

  1. Thanks! Initially I thought a space had to be left AFTER every form of punctuation “.” “,” etc… but that makes almost two full blocks oven between the sentences so this makes sense. I was also never sure what that “V” was for at the end of the sentence.

    1. Right. But Sarah has also said that you probably don’t need to write the “V” at the end in TOPIK. She said nobody usually writes the “V” even though it’s “conventional.”

  2. What is counted as a 자 and what isn’t counted as a 자? I’m really confused by this because some sites said that spaces between words can be counted as a 자. How about the spacing before each paragraph/dialog/quotation? Is that counted as a 자 as well?

    According to the TOPIK sample answers for essay, they said that if you exceed by 100 자 or do not meet the required amount of 자, they will minus 5 points. So if I exceed by 99 자, will I still get penalized for it?

    1. Actually, EVERY box counts as a 자. “자” technically means “character” or “letter” and INCLUDES spaces.

      For the most part on TOPIK, you WON’T be writing multiple paragraphs or quotations, so it isn’t something to really worry about during the test, but YES, the spacing before each should count as a 자 as well.

      If you take a look at some sample TOPIK answer papers (in the back of the TOPIK Test Guide books, or located here on our website), you can see that there are numbers going down the side of the page. This is to help with speedy counting of the number of 자 used. So long as you remain WITHIN the specified amount, you should be OK.

      I’d also say, if you’re 99 in excess (and the penalty is 100), then you won’t be deducted. The numbers down the side of the paper make for simple counting and it will be easy to tell if you go “over” or not. They’ll just look down to see if you have 자 in the “forbidden area.”

      But I say, Why even test it? For the most part, you’re not really going to be ABLE to write so long. It’s best to FOCUS your writing to your main points and work on cleaning up your essay WITHIN the guidelines. You won’t get bonus points for going long. But you WILL get better points for spending your extra time editing and fixing rather than over-writing.

      Good luck in TOPIK!~

      By the way, you know that from July, there is NO MORE Beginner Writing section, right? Only Intermediates and Advanced students need to worry about that.

  3. Dear Aaron, thank you for your article. One question I have though is how we can edit the TOPIK writing essays. Is there an official way to insert corrections without being penalised?

    1. You cannot edit TOPIK writing essays AFTER the test.

      However, DURING the test, if you make an error, you need to use the white-out tape (available at the tests if you ask the test proctors – or just bring your own).

      Last time, to try to avoid needing to use white-out tape, I tried to write the essay FIRST in pencil and then go back over it all in pen. However, this method took WAY too long and I didn’t have time to complete the full writing portion.

      Therefore, I think it’s a much better idea to just do you best in pen and if you make a mistake, use the white-out tape.

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