HSK Exam (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi) The Complete Guide

Millions of people are now studying Chinese. In order to understand what level of knowledge of the Chinese language a particular person has, an assessment system was specially developed. This is the HSK exam.

This abbreviation stands for Chinese Proficiency Exam. In Chinese 汉语 水平 考试, pinyin (han yu shui ping kao shi).

That is, the examinees take an exam, according to the results of which they are assigned a certain level. This grading system was developed in 1990. Later, in 2009, changes were made to it. In my personal opinion, now it has become easier to pass such an exam.


  • HSK: what is it?
  • HSK: why is it needed?
  • HSK levels
  • HSK 1
  • HSK 2
  • HSK 3
  • HSK 4
  • HSK 5
  • HSK 6
  • Preparing for the HSK exam
  • Passing the exam: what should be considered?
  • Trial testing is a must!
  • Knowledge of words does not mean success in HSK
  • Filling out the form
  • Check out the answer options
  • Difficult questions – skip
  • Make it easier!
  • Get ready with your instructor
  • Features of the HSK
  • conclusions

HSK: what is it?

This is an exam during which the level of proficiency in the Chinese language is assessed for working, domestic and educational conditions. Assessment includes blocks that are not related to each other. This is not only a letter, but also spoken language, which are submitted separately.

HSK: why is it needed?

Test certificates are recognized worldwide. Such a document may be required if:

  1. It is planned to enter a Chinese university, or if you expect to receive a grant for free education, in one of the PRC universities.
  2. You are a foreigner and intend to work with a Chinese company. Usually, the package of documents includes the provision of HSK, confirming the appropriate level of knowledge.
  3. There is a prospect of moving up the career ladder, or immediately taking a high position in a Chinese company.
  4. It is necessary to improve the level of knowledge of Chinese. Preparing for such an exam is a serious job, the result of which can be a certificate confirming high knowledge of the language.

HSK levels

Knowledge is defined at six levels. Tasks are divided into reading, writing block, vocabulary, listening to audio recordings with answers to questions. In the first three levels of HSK, the minimum level of Chinese language proficiency is tested.

Successful passing of the remaining three levels makes it possible to enter a Chinese university. Those. you can study a specialty not only in a bachelor’s degree, but also in a master’s degree and even in doctoral studies. The oral exam has 3 levels of difficulty – for studying at a Chinese university, you need to confirm the 2nd level.

The candidate must independently determine what level he / she is applying for, i.e. choosing from 1 to 6, on the basis of which to receive tasks. The exam confirms the existing knowledge, or indicates that it is not enough. For delivery, it is important to accurately answer at least 60% of the questions.

Attention! If you plan to enter a Chinese university, then the HSK test must be passed no later than 2 years before submitting documents to the educational institution.


This level is intended for people who understand and use minimal hieroglyphs in speaking and writing. It is the basis for further study of the Chinese language.

To pass the HSK Level 1 qualification exam, you need to know at least 150 common Chinese words. The candidate is given 40 tasks, among them:

  • You need to find an image that fits the meaning;
  • Filling in missing words;
  • Reading and listening to simple phrases;
  • Selecting the option you want.

Testing time is 40 minutes, which includes not only solving tasks, but also filling out a form with personal data.


Beginner level for people using Chinese in everyday life (basic conversational). The exam for obtaining the HSK level 2 is not difficult. To pass it, you need to know at least 300 words. You also need to complete listening and reading assignments. A total of 60 tasks, where the examinee must understand the meaning of phrases or dialogue, choose the correct answer, fill in the gaps in the sentences. Testing takes 55 minutes.


The exam is designed for beginner and intermediate level students. Determines whether a person can solve simple everyday life tasks. For example, traveling, using public transport, work, university studies.

In addition to listening and reading, the examinee must pass the “Writing block”, during which it is necessary to fill in the gaps in the sentences. To pass the exam successfully, you need to know at least 600 words of Chinese. The candidate is offered 80 tasks, and 90 minutes are given for testing.


It was created for foreign students of Chinese universities who can communicate on various topics. For example, to partially understand the spoken language of native speakers. The candidate is offered 100 tasks, the passage of which is given 105 minutes. At the same time, you need to know from 1200 words in Chinese. During the HSK 4 exam, you need to not only read and listen to short texts, but also write sentences yourself.


It was developed for people whose knowledge allows not only to read newspapers, magazines in Chinese, but also to watch films, write presentations and demonstrate them to the public.

From HSK 5, advanced levels begin. Their difficulty is that the candidate needs to read large texts, complete complex listening tasks, where there are many rarely used and unknown speech patterns. For example, to get good scores on the exam, you need to know more than 2500 words, where there is terminology, proper names, etc.

The writing block of the exam includes writing an essay and texts based on the proposed images, choosing hieroglyphs from the list of available ones. Testing takes 2 hours 5 minutes.

IMPORTANT! In case of cheating or violation of other rules of the exam, the results will be canceled.


Suitable for candidates who are fluent in Chinese, understand and assimilate multidirectional information in it with the ability to express themselves orally or in writing.

The test subject must know at least 5,000 words in Chinese. When passing the HSK-6 exam, you need to write a presentation, read many texts, listen to several complex dialogues. The candidate will have to complete 101 tasks, which will take 140 minutes.

Preparing for the HSK exam

Depending on the level of the exam, you must choose the method of preparation – yourself, or sign up for special courses. For self-preparation, you need to download the HSK vocabulary for a specific level, practice tests and solve tasks daily.

Even if the candidate is fluent in Chinese, without preparation, it will not work to pass to a high level. After all, the HSK exam testing is a system that you need to get used to – not only to understand the specifics of the assignments, but also to complete the assignments in a limited time.

Our project has developed a website for preparing for HSK online for free.
Welcome to my-hsk.com

Passing the exam: what should be considered?

To successfully pass the HSK exam, it is not enough to know Chinese. Many seasoned candidates do not always perform as well as they expect. And those who have studied Chinese characters for several months can successfully pass the tests, but they will be unsuitable for life in China.

Trial testing is a must!

Even if you speak Chinese at an advanced level, the exam is stressful. And HSK practice tests will allow you to understand what awaits you when checking your level of knowledge. It is important to complete the tasks in time, taking into account the selected level.

Knowledge of words does not mean success in HSK

Having learned 5000 words for the most advanced level, this will not be a guarantee of passing HSK 6, because the words will be divided into combinations, and their meaning will have to be understood in context. It is important to memorize not only words, but also lexical constructions from them, correctly applying them in speech and in sentences.

Filling out the form

Answers recorded during testing will be checked by the computer. Therefore, it is better to fill out the forms clearly and accurately. After each block with tasks, time is given to fill out the form. Better not to leave it for later, because the exam time is strictly limited and controlled.

Because of this, when listening, it is better not to take notes, otherwise you can miss the main thing. But if you need a draft, use the back of your exam pass. It is better to make notes during the HSK 6 exam, because there is little time to read the text and write a summary, and drawing up a plan will help.

Check out the answer options

Before completing the assignment, review the suggested answers of the “listening” or “reading” block. This will allow not only to roughly understand what the question will be while listening to / reading the information, but also to immediately draw attention to the correct answer.

Difficult questions – skip

It is better to skip the questions, the answers to which you do not know, which is especially true for written assignments. In order not to think about one question for a long time, it is better to go on assignments further, solving assignments in which you are confident and gain points. It is better to return to complex questions when answers to simpler ones are given. This does not apply to listening – it should be done right away, because the information you listened to is easy to forget.

Make it easier!

In the written test block, it is better not to complicate the answers with grammatical phrases and phrases. It is important to clearly and competently express your own thoughts. The handwriting must be legible. If a hieroglyph is not clearly spelled out, it is considered erroneous.

Get ready with your instructor

It is often not easy to independently prepare for passing the HSK, because you need to work out complex nuances. But preparing for an exam with a specialist will allow you to identify your weaknesses, focusing on them. In addition, the teacher will be able to explain in detail the specifics of each level of the HSK exam.

Features of the HSK

Going to the exam, take your passport, 2 photographs with you (sometimes they are submitted in advance). Also, do not forget to bring a 2B pencil (Russian version – 2M) and an eraser. It is forbidden to bring any electronic devices, educational literature, dictionaries for testing. If during testing it will be necessary to take medication, the examiner must be warned about this.

The first, organizational moment of the exam is filling out a form with information about yourself, then you can start solving tasks. Correct answers need to be shaded, ticking is prohibited, because the work is checked by a computer that reacts only to the shaded options.

Please note that the audio recording of the questions is included by the instructors. The file being played is not of very high quality, so listen carefully to each phrase. The second block is reading and the last is writing.

In the block “Listening” it is determined whether the examinee is able not only to understand the meaning of the proposed phrases, but also to highlight the main idea from the information listened to, and also to convey its meaning.

The section “Reading” allows not only to determine the ability of the examinee to build sentences in stages, but also to understand the information read.

The writing block checks whether the examinee can correctly express thoughts “on paper”. In addition, the ability to build sentences on the presented questions is tested.

Important! Test results are available in a month. You can get acquainted with them on the official HSK website. You can receive a certificate confirming your knowledge of Chinese by mail.


The main thing in passing the HSK exam is to carefully prepare for each block. For example, the minimum that needs to be done is to purchase tests for the level you are applying for. It is also best to write down and learn any unfamiliar words. In addition, you need to be able to translate texts, taking into account their meaning – without reference and certain words.

It is important to understand spoken Chinese recorded in audio format. Applicants for advanced levels should not only be able to give detailed answers, but also write essays. But for this, the Chinese language must be used everywhere. In this case, the chances of getting a certificate will increase significantly.

If you fail the exam the first time, don’t worry. In any case, you have already gained experience. This means that next time, with proper preparation, you will receive a certificate confirming your knowledge of the Chinese language!

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