6 Tips to Prepare for and Pass the HSK Exam Like a Pro

October 11, 2021

In this article, we have collected a number of pro tips to help your pass your HSK exam quickly and without worry.

HSK Tip #1 – Make a realistic HSK study plan

Many students tend to over- or underestimate how much time it takes to prepare for the HSK test. Making a realistic study plan before you start preparing for the test will help you to manage your time better and help you to be ready for the test on time.

Each HSK level has a vocabulary requirement and to pass the HSK you would need to have a good mastery of the vocabulary needed for that level. The higher the HSK level, the more vocabulary you will need to learn and, consequently, the more time you will need to set aside to prepare for the test.

Here is a table with the vocabulary requirements for each level:
HSK Required Vocabulary per Level

Take a look at the table, estimate which HSK level you are currently at and which exam you want to prepare for, and set aside the appropriate amount of time for yourself to study.

From our experience, a reasonable pace would be to learn 5-10 words a day. For example, to reach HSK 1 starting from zero, would take between two weeks to two months, depending on the intensity of study.

If you are not sure what your current HSK level is, you can take our free online level evaluation here.

HSK Tip # 2 – Sign up for the exam in advance

Let’s not deny it, we all tend to procrastinate once in a while. A good way to avoid procrastination is to have a deadline for your HSK test.

Therefore, the best thing to do is to sign up for your HSK test in advance. This way, you have a real deadline ahead of you and you won’t have any excuses to postpone your studies to a later date.

If you don’t know how to sign-up for the test, you can read our short guide on how to sign for the HSK test here.

HSK Tip # 3 – Sign up with a friend or join a course

For many students, having a study partner keeps them more accountable and makes learning easier. It is always easier to have a friend studying with you, as you can share your progress and encourage each other in the process. You don’t even have to study for the same level, as long as you sign up for the same exam date. Another great option is to sign up for a group course where you will study together with other people.

Culture Yard offers group preparation courses for the HSK exam that can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. Read more about our courses here.

HSK Tip # 4 – Get familiar with the exam format and questions

The HSK exam tests the following skills: reading, listening comprehension and writing (or typing). There is no speaking component to the test – that is a separate exam called the HSKK. In each HSK level, the exam format and the type of questions asked are slightly different so it is better to get familiar with the exam format before you take the actual test.

The questions in HSK levels 1-4 are quite straightforward and are mostly multiple-choice questions. However, on HSK 5 and 6 some sections can be quite tricky and require extra preparation, for example the 病句类型 (sentence error) questions in HSK 6.

HSK Tip # 5 – Do 3-4 mock exams during your studies and just before the real test

Since the format of the HSK test doesn’t change month to month, you can test yourself using past tests to see how you do before you go to the real exam and get a good feeling of the pace and the different exam sections.

We recommend to start doing mock tests already half-way through your studies – this will help you identify if you have any specific exam skills you need to pay more attention to and spend more time on strengthening those skills.

For example, if you see that pace is too slow in the reading section, you can spend more time on practicing reading and skimming through texts. Or if you are struggling with the listening section, you can do extra listening practice. You can buy books with old HSK tests online or you can download free mock HSK exam PDFs here.

HSK Tip # 6 – Visit the exam location before the day of the real test

Finally, even if you are well prepared, taking a test can be quite a stressful experience. Therefore, to avoid unnecessary stress, we recommend visiting the exam location in advance so you don’t have to look for the exact building and room on the day of the HSK exam; you will already know exactly how long it will take you to travel to the exam location.

This is especially important if you are taking the exam in China, as quite often the exam location is not clearly marked, and you don't want to spend the day of the exam running around a big Chinese university campus looking for the right room.

These are our tips for you to prepare for the HSK exam, hope they are helpful! Let us know if you have any good tips of your own and we will include them in future articles on the topic.

Good luck on your HSK exam and if you need any help in preparing, get in touch with us!