Goodness that was a long title…
Ah, where to start? Oh! Disclaimer: I haven’t taken the TOPIK before so that’s the POV this review will be written on.
Overall, I really like this TOPIK guide. It gives you a solid idea of how the test is broken down, what you are expected to know, and what types of questions will be asked. Everything is written clearly and has a simple color scheme therefore there isn’t too much going on in one page to make you go, “HELP @.@” There are explanations on sections and questions throughout the book, however, they are not enough for you to completely learn something new. You may get better understandings of things, but it will mainly review what it expects you to know. They inform you without making things too easy.
WARNING: Before using this book, do a good bit of studying on vocab and grammar. I had some trouble with the book because I study on and off nowadays and I really don’t know that many words.
ANOTHER WARNING: I wrote a lot because I wanted to give a thorough review, but mainly because I don’t know how to shut up.
Now for details! :D
(Hey look, it matches my notebook… kinda. Two different shades of blue. Pay no attention to SHINee trying to get screen time and 천정명 looking like he wants to eat the book.) It is smaller than an A4 size notebook, almost the same size as a 1st Look or @Star magazine when opened, and isn’t heavy , but there is lots of information in the book. Sometimes when I buy a small book, I get a little worried that there isn’t going to be much info, but I also don’t like feeling the weight of a large book in my bag. If I’m going to classes, it’s inevitable, but if it’s the weekend I dun wan heavy a bag. ;-;
Intro/Beginning/About the TOPIK
(Jonghyun and Taemin want you to do well, so study hard! ^.^ Ah, who am I kidding? They want screen time. Onew too, but… yeah, he got half an eye in…)
After the “preface” and “how to use this book” (which I either skip or skim through because publishers just wanna show how fancy they are) there’s a section in both Korean and English on how the TOPIK is run and what it’s about. Here’s a list of things it covers: (I don’t wanna write it in paragraph form because then it may get boring and I’m not that creative)
- times of the year the TOPIK is held depending on your country
- test duration
- sections and number of questions
- how long the writing section is depending on your level
- level/proficiency guideline
- standards of passing the exam
- registration procedure
- testing areas in Korea
*Note: I knew pretty much nothing about TOPIK except for what the acronym stands for, but the into really helped me get an idea of how it runs so it was definitely helpful. I had no idea there are three levels of exams and not 6. For example, you could take the intermediate level and pass with a level 3 or a level 4 depending on what your score was. I’m used to the JLPT where if you take JPLT 3 either you pass or you don’t (DO OR DIE)- not two levels of passing and then the option of just failing completely.
The book is then broken up into three main parts: (1) Review and Analysis of Previous TOPIK Questions, (2) Practice Questions, and (3) Mock Tests.
I had to look up a ton of words and if Naver Dictionary didn’t exist, I don’t know what I would do with myself. I LIVE there now. If naverdic ever had room and board, I will be the first to apply.
Throughout this section, the book will be explaining the types of questions you may see and what answers they’re looking for in each section (어휘/문번, 쓰기, 듣기, 읽기). The explanations are at the bottom of each page in Korean and English. Something I really liked about their explanations was that they’d explain why the wrong answers are wrong. It doesn’t just say, “3 is correct because this is why it’s correct- NEXT.”
There’s about one question per page in this part, so there’s plenty of space for anyone who enjoys scribbling in their books.
On the sides, there are mini boxes titled “vocab & expressions” which I’m guessing are words/expressions that will come up a lot or have a high chance of being in a question. (Yay, more notes! :D)
I really liked that it recommends to look up the opposites of words/phrases and be wary of their look-a-likes. Tests like to be tricky, so it’s always good to know the difference between things. I can only imagine the pain of people learning English when they hear or see “The boy in the sea” vs. “The buoy in the sea.”
This section is pretty similar to Section I with the explanations and vocab/expressions boxes, but this time they are walking you through a full-length test. (Thank you, please, walk with me a little longer. Don’t go. I’m not ready yet. ;-;) Here, you are expected to answer yourself. The explanations at the bottom give hints and remind you what the question is asking. Correct answers are provided in the back of the book.
Here is where your training gets tested. You’re on your own, warrior. (대현: 태양아래 너를 맡겨봐. 내 가슴에 불을 지펴봐~)
Answer sheets for literally filling in your answers are in the very back of the book. I photocopy them since I don’t like ripping stuff out of pretty books and it’s semi-gloss paper which isn’t the best for pencil and erasing. I was confused on how to use them at first since there’s 1교시 and 2교시, but then I read that 1교시 is for 어휘/문번, 쓰기 and 2교시 was for 듣기, 읽기. I was too amazed by all the circles and questions so I just looked at it like @.@ See, you gotta read. >.>
(정명 is always watching… waiting…)
Here is where the English translations for listening and reading will be for Section II & III. There aren’t explanations on why certain choices were wrong, but the translation is enough to make you go “Oh… Whoops” or “YES GOT IT” or “I accidentally answered that correctly.”
There are two CDs that come with this book. The first one is for Part II and the second one is for the mock tests. The CDs are very clear, but I’m surprised that everything was said so slowly. I thought I would have to be ready for a real-time hot in the middle of Korea speaking speed. Is that how it’s done on the beginner test?
WARNING: Cut the blue and don’t cut where the red is like how I lined it in the photo. This way, your CDs won’t fly out if you choose to leave them in the book. Opening it any other way will make them run away from you like “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”
- clear, concise explanations and layout
- portable and light
- walks you through a full exam
- gives you enough room to learn how you want and to get a challenge
- It was never mentioned whether someone will read stuff for the listening section or if I’ll do the old-fashioned “listen to a CD player” thing. I think that’s what they do for SAT II for languages.
- more explanation on the writing section since that’s the killer for everyone (i.e. what to look out for, what nails most people, more writing drills in general)
- suggestions for what to do after mock tests (i.e. what to read if reading is your weakest point)
All in all, it’s a great book that I think people will be happy to use for preparing for the TOPIK. I’d definitely get the intermediate and advanced versions in the future.
Sorry for the late review. >.< Thank you once again to twoChois for doing Lucky Draws! :D