The HSK 汉语水平考试 (Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì), or Chinese Proficiency Test, is the standardized exam roughly equivalent to a TOEFL for Mandarin. It covers academic, professional, and daily life Chinese skills, making it appropriate for anyone who wants to obtain official credentials for their Chinese ability or just track their learning. While the majority of test takers are students, the HSK is a great way for professionals to impress prospective employers with your commitment to learning Chinese, and an opportunity to continue improving your Chinese in a measured process.
Is the HSK Right for You?
The first step in considering the HSK is to see if it lines up with your goals in learning Chinese. Some people are not good test takers, and might not care to invest time into test prep. If you are one of those people, don't panic because HSK is only a prerequisite if you are applying to a Chinese university, and employers seldom put HSK scores as a requirement on job listings. While obtaining an HSK certificate isn't necessary to finding
One of the biggest things I noticed while interviewing in China is that interviewers want to know how well you will fit into the company, as well as how committed you are to staying in China. You can play
The HSK is also a measurement tool for self-improvement. HSK material pertains to useful subjects about daily life and culture, designed to have practical application for you no matter what your goal is in learning Chinese. Many people who take the HSK do it because they want to prove how far they have come in learning Chinese. Since test scores are more tangible than holistic knowledge, the HSK is popular among China’s foreign student bodies. However, test taking is not for everybody, and I think the HSK should only be used as a tool if it helps you get to the next level of Chinese, or it is part of your academic track. I used a lot of HSK material to study Chinese, but it didn’t bother me that I never took the test because for me, using Chinese in the workplace was enough of an accomplishment to mark my progress. However, others took the HSK say it was worth it because it made them stick out from the crowd in the job application process or gave them a sense of self-satisfaction. Passing the HSK gives you a lifetime worth of bragging rights since the certificate doesn’t expire unless you are using it to apply to universities (in which case it lasts for two years).
How to Prepare and Get Your Desired Score
After you decide whether taking the HSK is right for you, you’re going to have to pick out a target level to take. Start by thinking about how many characters you want to learn before your test date. Refer to the table below to see how many characters could appear on each version of the test:
|Characters and Words||Score||Certificate|
|2||Elementry with Honors|
|4||Intermediate with Honors|
|6||Advanced with Honors|
If the number of characters looks intimidating, don't be discouraged straight away. In order to pass any given level, you only need to get 60% of the answers right. This means to pass HSK 6, you only need to know how to use 1,600 characters and 3000 words correctly, and it is not difficult to memorize that amount if you employ mnemonic devices.
However, learning vocabulary alone will not guarantee you can pass your desired level of the HSK. At the advanced level, you will also be tested on every aspect of characters, including circumstances they can be used in. This gets difficult in HSK
You will want to be able to fall back on basic test taking skills such as
As with any test, practice makes perfect. Consistent exposure and experience with Chinese grammar structures and instances of how vocabulary words are used properly