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10 Things You Must Know About The HSK Exam

Your Ultimate Guide To The HSK Exam

HSK is China’s only standardized test of Chinese language proficiency for non-native speakers. The test was initiated by Beijing Language and Culture University and is now held annually in different cities in China and overseas. HSK is available both online or in paper-based format, and it’s administered in simplified Chinese characters. More and more foreigners start to show an interest in taking the HSK test, we are here to provide you with detailed answers to some frequently asked questions related to HSK.

HSK test is open to all non-native Chinese speakers such as foreign students and employees, as well as overseas Chinese. If you are interested in the Chinese language and would like to test your language level, HSK is the right choice for you.

I took HSK as it was required by my university [in Shanghai]. That’s Mandarin helped me with the exam prep and also to register for the exam.”

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HSK student

You can take HSK test in any of the authorised HSK test centers. It’s relatively convenient to take HSK test while you are in China as HSK test centers (normally established on campus) can be found in most of first-tier and second-tier cities across China. However, HSK test centers are also available in some popular overseas Chinese-learning destinations such as Japan, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Russia, etc.

A detailed HSK test timetable for the following year is released at the end of the current year by Hanban (The Office of Chinese Language Council International). You can visit Hanban’s offical website (link: https://www.hanban.edu.cn/) and then click on “Chinese Tests” to find out detailed information about the test dates.

Alternatively, you can download the pdf version of the HSK test dates via the image link below.

 Download PDF

Download PDF

The current HSK Test is divided into 6 grade, from HSK1 to HSK6. HSK’s six levels are designed to fit into the six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). In general, HSK1 and HSK2 are considered beginner’s level; HSK 3 to 4 are categorized under intermediate level; and HSK5 and HSK6 are regarded as advanced level.

The structure of the HSK test varies depending on different levels:

  • HSK 1 & HSK 2

    HSK1 and HSK2 only contain listening and reading. HSK1 consists of 20 listening (true or false & multiple choice) and 20 reading multiple choice questions, whereas HSK2 consists of 35 listening (true or false & multiple choice) and 25 reading multiple choice questions. In HSK1 and HSK2 all characters are provided along with Pinyin.

  • HSK 3 to HSK 6

    HSK3 to HSK6 consist of listening, reading and writing, all characters are provided without Pinyin. These levels require students to demonstrate a good command of Chinese language knowledge from completing daily communicative tasks to smoothly express oneself in both written and oral form.

How to Pass the Exam

HSK1 and HSK2 have a maximum score of 200 with 120 points required to pass. HSK3 to HSK6 have a maximum score of 300 with 180 points required to pass.

There are many factors need to be considered, for example, what courses do you take, how often do you get to practice with your Chinese friends, etc. Generally speaking, you should be able to:

  • After 3 - 5 months

    After 3 to 5 months of systematic study you should be able to pass beginner’s level (HSK1 and HSK2), where you are supposed to be able to conduct simple daily conversations, understand frequently used expressions related to daily topics, and use simple Chinese sentences to express your own opinions or thoughts.

  • After 1 - 2 years

    After 1 to 2 years of systematic study you will have the ability to pass intermediate level (HSK3 and HSK4), where you are capable of discussing a wide range of topics and interacting with Chinese native speakers with a degree of fluency and spontaneity.

  • After 4 - 5 years

    However, there is a big gap between intermediate level and advanced level (HSK5 – HSK6), it will then take a considerable amount of time to master the knowledge to pass these two exams as they require students to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the Chinese language such as understanding idioms, and the ability to use Chinese flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.

No worries at all if you fail in the test. There is no restriction on the number of times for taking the HSK test. Therefore, you may take the test as many times as you wish.

Of course there is. There are quite a few fabulous Chinese language schools in Beijing and Shanghai which offer HSK preparation courses. At That’s Mandarin, we offer both 1-on-1 tutoring and small group class for HSK preparation.

  • 1-on-1

    Our 1-on-1 classes provide extremely flexible schedule. Students may cancel or postpone a class 24 hours in advance. Besides, 1-on-1 classes at That’s Mandarin allow students to learn Chinese more efficiently and quickly improve Chinese language skills using our innovative learning methods. Meanwhile, the teacher will 100% focus on the student’s performance and progress in listening, reading, writing and speaking to get the student prepared for HSK.

  • Small Group Classes

    Small group classes at That’s Mandarin provide a more conducive learning environment, where there are only 2-5 students study in one class. You will have more time to practice your Chinese in class as it certainly allows you to interact with other classmates and the teacher.

It depends on what you need. HSK is China’s standardized test to test foreigners’ Chinese language proficiency. It’s classified into 6 levels, with level 1 being the lowest, and level 6 being the highest. Obtaining a Chinese proficiency certificate certainly has its advantages.

Obtaining an HSK certificate certainly has its advantages. First of all, it certifies the possession of Chinese language skills when applying for a job in China, in fact, more and more companies have started to ask for a Chinese proficiency certificate when they hire foreign employees, some companies even state it in the job description as a requirement.

Second, if you are a student and would like to enter a Chinese university, it fulfills admission requirements when applying to different types of schools at various levels in China. Third, it’s also an advantage to hold an HSK certificate when applying for a work visa in China.

Now that you’ve decided to take or have taken the HSK exam, it’s important to know the validity of your certificate. If your HSK purpose is for college admission, it’s valid for two years. Otherwise it’s valid indefinitely.

Whatever your purpose of taking the HSK is, it’s beneficial even just for your own reference. Plus it’s a bragging right, which you can add to your resume and edge out your competitors!

Good luck on your HSK exam. And remember, you can always take our HSK preparation course to ensure you ace the exam!

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