5 Tips to Ace Your HSK5 Exam

June 15, 2022

Are you planning to take your HSK5 exam but struggle to prepare for it? You are not alone! Regardless of your reasons for taking the HSK exam, it can be quite an intimidating task for most Chinese language learners.

With offline classes being less and less available, many students have a hard time coming up with an action plan to start preparing for their HSK5 exam. That is why I have decided to share the five (5) tips I have personally used to structure my study plan so that you too can develop one of your own.

HSK5 TIP #1: Study the HSK5 Vocabulary

Chinese vocabulary list

According to Hanban (the Confucius Institute Headquarters), you need to know 2500 vocabulary words to pass the HSK5 exam. This is more than double the requirement for HSK4. Your vocabulary is crucial to your success in passing the exam, as you will need it to be able to read and understand the exam questions, improve your reading speed as well as compose the short essays in the writing section.

To start, download the HSK5 vocabulary list and learn the vocabulary religiously by using flashcards, writing the characters multiple times, or practicing the vocabulary words when speaking to Chinese speakers. If you have the HSK 5 workbook, you can also focus on the "relevant vocabulary" in each lesson. A reasonable goal would be to learn 5 to 10 words per day, but feel free to aim for more if you are in a time crunch.

It is also recommended that you review the vocabulary words from HSK1 to HSK 4, especially if you have not read/written them for a while. However, since this is not your primary focus, spending a few minutes reading and writing them each day should be sufficient.

If reading 2500 vocabulary words sounds too tedious, try learning them using one of these HSK prep apps instead.

HSK5 TIP #2: Master Common Grammar Points

Chinese characters

Memorizing the vocabulary words is great, but that alone will not cut it at this level of HSK. Having a solid knowledge of the common grammatical forms is critical in order to use those vocabulary words.

Grammar structures allow you to connect words to form ideas, while transition phrases allow you to connect those ideas. They will not only ensure that you understand the meaning behind a dialogue but will also allow you to craft coherent sentences, an essential skill for writing an essay.

When it comes to grammar structures, you want to be able to avoid common mistakes such as mixing up /得/地 or when to use 过/ to express past tense.

As for the transition phrases, I like to memorize anywhere from five to ten different phrases so that I have enough flexibility when writing the essay. These may include structures such as 不但。。。而且因为。。。所以只要。。。就 or 虽然。。。但是.

HSK5 TIP #3: Practice with HSK5 Mock Exams

Sample HSK exam

Practicing with mock exams will give you a few advantages.

First, it will allow you to familiarize yourself with the exam format as well as the timing. This is important, regardless of whether you have taken other HSK exams in the past or if it is your first time, because the format varies from one level to another.

Another benefit of the mock test is that it gives you a feel of how the difficulty level gradually increases in each section.

In the writing section, you will find that the first question requires you to rearrange words to form sentences, while in the last task, you are only provided with an image, and are required to describe the given image with your own words to compose your essay.

Lastly, taking the full-length mock exam multiple times will allow you to identify which skills you are good at, and which ones you need to improve.

For instance, you may find out the type of essay you are most comfortable writing (narrative, descriptive, or expository) or realize that you are great at listening but not so good at reading, and therefore need to invest more time in perfecting it.

HSK5 TIP #4: Take HSK5 Preparatory Courses

Online class

Preparing for the exam on your own can be overwhelming, and having a good teacher can be both helpful and timesaving.

Not only your learning environment will be more structured but you will also have someone to correct you when necessary. Additionally, they can give you tips on how to improve your reading speed and writing skills.

Here are some of the best tips I ever got from a teacher:

Use passive voice


  • S + 把 + O + V__ : 我不小心把杯子弄碎了。/ 麻烦您把文件再发给我一遍吧。
  • S + 被 + O + V__: 他被老板批评了。/ 我手机被偷走了。

Make longer sentences by specifying the time, place, and duration of an action, or by using transition phrases


  • 我要去上课。> 我 三点 要去上课。> 我 因为 要去上课 所以 没法陪你玩。
  • 我们 虽然 认识, 但是 不是朋友。
  • 她可 不是 我妹妹 而是 我女朋友!

Luckily, HSK prep courses are a Culture Yard specialty. If you want to study HSK 5 with Culture Yard, read more about our courses here.

HSK5 TIP #5:Do Not Stress Too Much!

Feeling relaxed

It is understandable to feel nervous before your exam, however, do not let stress affect your test-taking abilities.

One great way to reduce stress is to get at least 7 hours of sleep the night before your big day.

As with any other important event, it is also best to give yourself enough time to get to the exam location, in case anything unexpected happens on the way, as this may cause unnecessary stress.

And lastly, be sure to have a light meal before your exam, just enough food to keep you from getting distracted by hunger, but not to the point of putting yourself in a food coma.

There you have it, friends! I hope you found these tips helpful and wish you good luck with your exam!

For more help on preparing for the HSK5 exam, sign up for online HSK 5 preparatory lessons here!

About the Author

Juli Mboty has called China home for over 12 years where she became passionate about the Chinese culture, language, and history.

Juli Author Culture Yard