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How I Will Study for the TOPIK II in 120 Days (and You Can Join Me)

Well, that was unexpected.

I recently wrote a post outlining my plan to cram for the TOPIK II in 30 days. I had been planning to take the test on July 19, 2015. But, I guess plans change.

As it turns out, the registration period for the 41st TOPIK test ended on Wednesday June 17 at 6:00pm. I didn’t check the TOPIK site that day until 7pm and I’d originally blocked off two FULL weeks for the registration period. I knew it was longer than one week, but didn’t pay attention to the fact that it wasn’t two FULL weeks. (Plus, chaos at work has had me distracted.)

It’s doubly unfortunate because I’d also agreed to help a friend of mine register for the same test. Well, looks like we’ll both be in the 42nd TOPIK on October 17 now (registration period August 3 (M) @ 9:00am – August 12 (W) @ 6:00pm). And let it be noted that this is ALWAYS the TOPIK registration style:

  1. Opens: 1-2 months before the test
  2. Lasts: 10 days
  3. Always: Mon @ 9:00am – the following Wed @ 6:00pm

Well, that’s too bad.

120 Days to Test Time

So I counted it up. From TODAY, June 22 (my original “start studying” date) to October 17 (the new test date), I have 120 days. So, how will I study?

What will change: Lifestyle

1. Learn HOW to learn

I’m looking for language learning efficiency that will help me reach fluency faster. For that, I’ve picked up a new book that promises to help (and so far it looks quite good). I will read through the book chapter-by-chapter and start trying to put it into daily practice.

2. Create a transformational HABIT

Definitely it’s HARD to form a new habit, particularly when you don’t especially FEEL like you want to do it (example being: I was planning to wake up early and read a chapter in a Korean book, but I woke up late and groggy – so that will be postponed (who knows for how long?)). However, I do feel that HABITS are one of the best ways to accomplish anything you want to do because they require no conscious thought or effort on our part to perform them. Your brain basically takes over on auto-pilot as your body performs the actions.

So, I’d like to solidify a better language learning HABIT – one that “can be carried on indefinitely” (some advice I recently received) because the goal of a “good” habit shouldn’t be temporary change but life-long transformation.

3. MEASURE it daily

Although I’m still sleepy this morning and not really in the mood to record my voice/video reading in Korean as I’d originally planned, I do feel that I need to do that at some point today for two reasons:

  1. I want to start with a baseline (this is also something I talked about in the 30 Day Korean Speaking Challenge)
  2. As Peter Drucker has said, “What gets measured gets managed [done].”

I noticed the second was very true when I was doing bodyweight exercise last spring. I diligently tracked my repetitions of various exercises over the course of 3 months and 2 big things happened:

  1. I started to notice marked improvement and a real change in my body shape
  2. I began to look forward to pushing myself harder every day (whereas I’d originally hated doing it at all)

I want the same experience with studying Korean. I was to notice marked improvement in my vocabulary and speaking ability as well as experience much more enjoyment with the language. Because let’s face it, if the learning isn’t FUN, I won’t stick with it.

4. Daily reminders that build inspiration and motivation

This is in my opinion THE KEY TO KOREAN: Inspiration + Motivation

It’s WHY this site was born in the first place. I desperately needed motivation to study Korean further (I’d plateaued at the “survival in Korea is easy-peasy” stage). And when I consider motivation, this is the order in which I find I can motivate myself to push on:

  1. Start with WHY. Also start with WHY. WHY do you want this?
  2. REMIND yourself about your goals, objectives, and plans for this (I listed my original 30 Days TOPIK Goals below for this reason)
  3. The reminder will INSPIRE you because you’ll re-live and re-experience the same mindset you had when you wrote that list of goals
  4. The inspiration with MOTIVATE you into action
  5. Rinse, repeat. EVERY DAY.

I personally find that if I do not remind myself of my goals, and inspire and motivate myself on a DAILY basis, I eventually become complacent and let things slide. Once one thing slides, the whole thing slides, and before you know it, it’s been another year without marked improvement in my goals. Well, not anymore. DAILY, early morning reminders of WHY, WHAT I want, WHERE I want to go, and HOW I plan to get there will push me forward to success.

What will stay the same: Resources (posted here for our reminder and inspiration)


In the previous post, I’ve already listed a number of excellent resources that I’ve compiled to help me study more efficiently (and I’ll repost them here):

  1. By following the suggestions and tips of some of the world’s leading polyglot and accelerated (meta-learning) bloggers like Benny LewisTim Ferriss, and Gabriel Wyner
  2. By keeping a daily video diary (beginning June 22) to record my progress
  3. With Extensive Reading using Learning With Texts, Eko Korean (includes Writing components and is developed by a friend of mine), and paper books
  4. With focused Writing practice 3 times per week (twice a week revisions)
  5. Using the TOPIK One Practice Test app (Android | Apple) (also developed by someone I know)
  6. Using the 완벽대비 토픽II book that includes 3 books in one (TOPIK Tips, Practice Tests, and a “Score 100 in Writing” Practice book)
  7. Taking my wife’s TOPIK II prep class
  8. Creating and using One-page Vocabulary Cheat Sheets

A few new things in the works:

  1. My wife and I will begin creating online self-study Korean classes with a few unique components
    1. An online Community of Korean learners to support and encourage each other
    2. Forums on this website
    3. As part of the courses, a 1-2 time per week Skype conversation with her
  2. I will update the One-page Cheat Sheets to include basic conjugation rules on the back (and anyone who previously purchased those will be able to get a FREE upgrade)
  3. I’ve gathered a 6000 word frequency list of Korean words (like this book) in a digital format (freely available online) and will begin creating new resources of various types:
    1. A list of all the difficulty “A” words (beginner)
    2. A list of all the difficulty “A” verbs, nouns, adjectives
    3. The same lists for “B” and “C” difficulty words (intermediate/advanced)
    4. A list of all the Hanja words on the frequency list (also divided into A/B/C levels)
  4. Consider THIS POST the introduction to a NEW Korean Speaking Challenge (called the “120 Days to TOPIK Challenge“) that will mirror the original 30-Day Challenge I did in 2014. I will follow the same pattern with the posts in the 30-Day Challenge:
    1. Inspiration
    2. Challenge
    3. Resources
  5. I will be re-opening registration to our email lists within the next month or two. I will use the lists for 2 primary things:
    1. To send regular (short) inspirational messages to keep you motivated to study
    2. To gather various resources and stories about the Korean language and language learning that I find on the Internet throughout the week and share them with you

Stay tuned for updates on all of these in the upcoming weeks.

So, will YOU join me on this 120-Days to TOPIK Challenge? Post #1 will follow shortly.

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5 thoughts

  1. Have a good news…
    It’s a great idea. ..
    I have to get a chance with challenge and pleasure. ..

    1. Yes, let’s work on it together~ Keep me updated on your progress. If you share on social media, use #120TOPIK so I can search it. Or you can ping me on Twitter @keytokorean

      1. Have a good morning sir. ..
        sure I will try to do my best. ..
        Hope everyday I will join you after finish my duty that is 8.30 pm…
        Hope you will help me as your best. ..
        See you soon with pleasure. ..
        Thanks. ..

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