All About TOPIK Speaking Test

NIIED is introducing a TOPIK speaking section. Let’s find out everything about it.

If you’re preparing for TOPIK, you may know that it doesn’t have a speaking test. But, the good news is NIIED is introducing a TOPIK speaking section. Let’s find out more.

There are many reasons for learning Korean.

For example, to study, live or work in Korea. Some jobs demand Korean. Many are also interested in cultural aspects, like K-Pop, K-Drama, K-Movies, and K-Beauty.

Whatever source of motivation you may have. The Korean language is helpful for your academic, personal, and professional life.

And if you are studying Korean, you’d like to understand your exact level. If so, you can take TOPIK, the most popular Korean test worldwide.

It serves various purposes and certifies Korean ability for foreigners whose native tongue is not Korean.

The current form of TOPIK

NIIED (National Institute for International Education) offers the standard test in 314 centers. Of all, 54 are in South Korea, and the rest are in 87 other countries.

Anyone can take the exam regardless of their age. Once you pass, you earn an internationally recognized certificate. They organize TOPIK six times a year in South Korea and twice a year in other nations.

Presently, TOPIK I (level 1 and 2) has two sections — reading and listening. In contrast, TOPIK II (level 3 to 6) comprises three parts — writing, reading, and listening.

To sum up, TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) measures 3 abilities (writing, listening, and reading), but it doesn’t check speaking skills.

TOPIK speaking section

What is the purpose of this test?

Popular European language tests like DELF, DELE, CAPLE, CILS follow the guidelines of the CEFR.

It means these exams assess the candidates’ 4 abilities, i.e., speaking, writing, listening, and reading.

TOPIK, in its current form, does not have a speaking test. Thus, it is not like the CEFR, the most widely accepted standard for defining language ability globally.

Many companies, educational institutions, and experts have been asking for speaking exams for a long time.

The reasons are simple.

It helps learners prove they know enough Korean to speak, have conversations, read, listen, and write in specific contexts. So, you will know your exact speaking talents, a vital language skill.

This will be useful when you apply for university courses. You can also use the certificate to apply for various work or studies visas and even immigration.

If you want to study at a Korean college and receive a scholarship, it will be valuable. For example, Global Korea Scholarship undergraduate and postgraduate.

Do you wish to work for a Korean company in Korea or any part of the world?

This is another benefit of TOPIK speaking. It can add significant value to your C.V., especially when the job requires you to speak Korean.

In short, the exam can check the candidates for all competencies, and the test will be complete in the true sense.

All About TOPIK Speaking

NIIED launched an IBT (internet-based testing) for the speaking part. The Korean government bodies have already started setting up a system and picking a company to conduct this test.

They plan to hold the speaking test twice in 2023, allowing around 5,000 exam takers.

The number of examinees will grow in the following years, with 10,000 expected in 2024, 20,000 expected in 2025, and up to 50,000 by 2027. This is their initial 4-year plan.

Check out the details of TOPIK speaking.

TOPIK speaking examination

1. What are the eligibility criteria?

There is no particular rule or condition.

  • Foreigners or overseas Koreans whose mother tongue or first language is not Korean.
  • Korean national who is currently studying or has graduated from a school abroad.

2. What is the validity?

Like the standard test, this is also valid for two years from the announcement of the examination score.

3. Question format

QuestionTypePreparation TimeResponse Time
1.Listen to the simple question and answer it.20 seconds30 seconds
2.Use familiar social situations to ask and answer.20 seconds40 seconds
3.Create a story using different scenes.40 seconds60 seconds
4.Listen to a dialogue and respond to the question.40 seconds60 seconds
5.Provide an explanation and critical analysis of the content.70 seconds80 seconds
6.Share your opinions on the topic.70 seconds80 seconds

4. Evaluation and grading factor

Evaluation factorDescription
Content and task performanceDoes the candidate express themselves appropriately about the topic? Has the performance and flow been organized and coherent?
Command of the languageIs the language appropriately used in the dialogue’s context? Have they used a variety of vocabulary and expressions? And how correct was it?
Pronunciation and deliveryIs their speech easy to understand (good pronunciation and intonation)? Did they speak at a natural pace?

5. Speaking Levels 

They based the TOPIK speaking exam on a modern scoring system that uses item response theory to evaluate candidates’ scores.

You can score between 0 and 200 points. The passing and grading vary depending on your total score.

TOPIK sublevel 1 requires between 20 and 49, whereas, for sublevel 6, you need between 160 to200. Below 20, test takers fail.

See the below image to see the sublevel and the required score.

TOPIK speaking levels

6. Question composition

  • Individuals can speak with the proper logic and construction about social issues and abstract topics.
  • They rarely make mistakes and can change their vocabulary and sentence structures. This is in response to the context of the dialog.
  • The individual has a natural delivery in terms of pronunciation, intonation, and speed.
TOPIK speaking exam

7. TOPIK Speaking Schedule

Currently, TOPIK speaking is in pilot mode. They offered the trial test 2 times in 2021. This mock test is 100% free.

Possibly, in the second half of 2022, they will begin regular operations. Their first official speaking test will be in November 2022, but only in Korea.

Then, in 2023, they will offer the speaking test routinely in other countries like the traditional TOPIK. They will provide more information later.

TestRegistration PeriodTest DatesResult DatesLocation
1st TOPIK speakingSept 20, 2022 – Sept 26, 2022November 19, 2022December 23, 2022Only Korea
The TOPIK schedule is subject to change.

8. Test Timing

The duration of the exam is 30 minutes.

Candidates must reach the class at 11 am. After that, there is a 20-minute identity card check and other information updates. Finally, the test starts at 11:20 am and ends at 11:50 am.

On the official website, you can find complete details about TOPIK speaking test in 2022 and 2023.

Conclusion: Should you take this test?

Speaking ability is an essential aspect of any language. One cannot fully use the language or become fluent without it.

You can consider taking the test to verify your verbal mastery, which can add incredible value to your profile. You can also start the preparation as it takes time to learn and improve the speaking part of Korean.

Do you want to take TOPIK speaking test when it starts?

If you want to share your thoughts or ask questions, write in the comment below!

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Vikash Gupta
I’m a linguist, lifelong learner, educator, blogger, and fun-loving guy. I write at studyfrenchspanish.com, languagenext.com, and joyofkorean.com.

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