The Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) will be held six times next year with the addition of the exam's first speaking section in the second half of the year. The photo shows students on July 11 taking TOPIK in Almaty, Kazakhstan. 

The Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) will be held six times next year, with the inaugural addition in the second half of the year of a speaking section to join those of reading, listening and writing.

The Ministry of Education on Oct. 28 announced the implementation of TOPIK next year.

TOPIK is a test for gauging the Korean-language skills of non-native speakers of Korean. The results can be used for admission to colleges, job searches and application for a residence visa in Korea.

The tests next year are scheduled for Jan. 23, April 9-10, May 15, July 9-10, Oct. 15-16 and Nov. 3, with those in April, July and October offered both in Korea and abroad.

The new speaking section will be offered for the first time next year on Nov. 19. Its addition is based on opinions that testing only reading, listening and writing is limited in substantially evaluating communication skills in Korean.

The section will be initially offered as an internet-based test (IBT) once a year in Korea only, and be gradually expanded from 2023.

The ministry pledged to start trial exams next year for conducting IBTs in sectors other than speaking from 2023. As the number of applicants has surged every year, the use of IBTs is essential to offer TOPIK takers opportunities to apply at least once a month, the ministry added.

The number of people taking TOPIK grew from 208,449 in 2014 to 375,871 in 2019. It declined to 218,869 last year due to COVID-19 but returned to positive growth this year to 330,012 (including those who applied to take the test slated for next month) in 75 countries as of this month.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Yoo Eun-hae said, "The ministry will prepare thoroughly for the 2022 test to be conducted stably," adding, "We will also do our best to ensure that the speaking section scheduled to be added in the second half of next year is administered according to plan."