HSK: Everything You Need To Know (And More!)
Studying Chinese? Everything You Need to Know About the HSK
If you’re studying Chinese in Beijing, you’ve probably heard about the HSK.
Here is everything you want to know and things you may never have thought to ask about the exam.
Chapter 1 What is it?
Chapter 2 Why should I take it?
Chapter 3 How many levels are there?
Chapter 4 When is the test offered?
Chapter 5 Where can I take the test?
Chapter 6 What is a passing grade?
Chapter 7 What level should I take?
Chapter 8 Does the HSK cost money?
Chapter 9 Do I have to write Chinese characters?
Chapter 10 Will the HSK test my oral Chinese?
Chapter 11 How do I sign up for the HSK?
Chapter 12 When do I get my admission ticket?
Chapter 13 I made a mistake! Can I change my information?
Chapter 14 What does the test cover?
Chapter 15 What do I bring on testing day?
Chapter 16 When can I check my grade?
Chapter 17 How do I check my grade?
Chapter 18 How long are the test results valid?
What is it?
HSK is short for Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (Chinese Proficiency Exam). The HSK is the official language examination to test non-native Chinese speakers’ language level.
It is designed and offered by the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) for people studying Chinese.
You can think of it as the Chinese version of the Common European Framework (CEF).
Please note that these are estimations.
Many sinologists agree that the HSK levels are not directly equivalent to the CEF levels.
Why should I take it?
For fun! Just kidding. (Unless test-taking is your hobby—you do you.) Passing HSK 4 and above is beneficial to foreigners interested in living, working, or studying in China.You can attend a Chinese university and get a job in a Chinese company. A passing score can even improve your odds of getting a Chinese work visa.
How many levels are there?
Six. HSK 1 is the most basic, and HSK 6 is the most advanced.
When is the test offered?
The HSK is offered monthly at various locations. To find the date most suitable for you, check the HSK testing dates for 2019.
Exams are on Saturday or Sunday. (Double check when you register.)
Levels 2, 4, and 6 test at 9:00am. Be there by 8:30.
Levels 1, 3, and 5 test at 13:30. Be there by 13:00.
Where can I take the test?
The HSK is offered both in China and in countries across the globe.
When you register, you can select your continent, country, and nearest testing center. Often the test is held in local Confucius Institutes or universities.
What is a passing grade?
If you take HSK level 1 or level 2, the maximum grade is 200. A passing grade is 120 points or higher.
If you take HSK levels 3, 4, 5, or 6 the maximum grade is 300. A passing grade is 180 points or higher.
What level should I take?
If you aren’t sure what level HSK you should prepare for, you can download previous versions of the exam for a practice run.
The Culture Yard level evaluation has two parts: the first is online and the second part is a short conversation with one of our teachers.
You can also sign up for our HSK prep classes.
Does the HSK cost money?
They say the best things in life are free, but the HSK does indeed cost. The price varies by level.
Do I have to write Chinese characters?
If you are located in China, the answer is no–you don’t have to.
The HSK is offered as a computer-based test, so you can type the characters instead. If you want to test your writing knowledge, sign up for the paper-based test. Maybe brush up on your pinyin and stroke order.
If you are outside of China, availability of the computer-based test is limited. Double-check when you register.
Will the HSK test my oral Chinese?
No. If you want to evaluate your spoken Chinese level, sign up for the HSKK (Hanyu Shuiping Kouyu Kaoshi)–the Chinese Oral Proficiency Exam.
The HSKK has 3 levels—Primary, Intermediate, and Advanced.
How do I sign up for the HSK?
Step 1: Use Internet Explorer–Firefox and Chrome do not work with the payment system. Go to chinesetest.cn and create an account with your email address.
The website is also offered in six other languages.
Step 2: Once you have your account set up and are logged in, click on “Register Now” on the landing page or “Test Registration” in the top menu.
Step 3: Choose your test. “Chinese Proficiency” is the regular HSK. Then, select the level you wish to take.
Step 4: Fill out your location information and select your test center. (The options for this part are only in Chinese, so if your Chinese is still a work in progress, you may want a Chinese-speaking friend to help you.)
Step 5: Next, fill out your personal information. Just a little longer now– you are almost finished! You’ll be back to studying Chinese in no time.
Step 6: Upload a photo of your beautiful self.
First, click “Select photo”.
Second, click “Cutting”. Crop your photo.
Third, click “Complete”.
When you are sure the listed requirements are met, scroll down and click “Next Step”.
Step 7: On the confirmation page, make sure all your information is correct.
This is very important for testing day!
If it all looks good, confirm your registration. You should get an email confirmation.
Step 8: Time to pay. Tip: use Internet Explorer!
(Be warned, this part is all in Chinese.)
Again, if your Chinese is still developing, you may want to enlist the help of a Chinese-speaking friend.
Once payment is complete, a confirmation screen will appear. You will not receive a confirmation email.
That’s it—you’re all done!
When do I get my admission ticket?
You will receive your admission ticket via email. Usually, you get the email the Monday before your test date.
I made a mistake! Can I change my information?
Before you pay the registration fee, you can change the test center/level, edit your personal information, or cancel the test altogether.
Once you have paid the registration fee, you cannot edit personal info or change the test center or level.
However, you can change the test date ONCE up to 10 days before the exam:
27+ days until exam: free
10-27 days (inclusive) until exam: 30% of test fee will be charged
Less than 10 days until exam: no changes can be made
What does the test cover?
Both the paper-based and computer-based tests are split into sections: listening, reading, and writing (levels 3 and up).
What do I bring on testing day?
If you are taking the paper-based test, bring pencils and an eraser, your admission ticket, and your passport.
If you are taking the computer-based test, bring your admission ticket and your passport.
You are not allowed to have anything on the table with you—not even a water bottle.
When can I check my grade?
Grades become available online one month after the test date.
If you want a physical certificate, printed official test score reports will be available at the test center about 2 months after the test date.
You can get the report by presenting your passport and admission ticket at the test center.
How do I check my grade?
Go to chinesetest.cn and enquire.
Not sure what your Ticket Number is? Go to your Personal Information Center.
The ticket number is the Test Entry Card Number.
The most important thing is whether you pass. The exact grade does not carry as much weight.
How long are the test results valid?
Test results are valid for two (2) years from your test date.
In this case, “valid” means you can use the score as part of an application to Chinese universities and colleges.
Beyond two years, you will need to retest as your level may have changed.
Congrats: you know everything there is to know about taking the HSK! Now go hit the books and keep studying Chinese 😉
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