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The importance and utility of HSK test

1) What is the HSK Test?

The HSK Test, or « Hànyǔ shuǐpíng kǎoshì », was designed for foreigners willing to validate their Mandarin level. It was created by HANBAN, the international office in charge of promoting Chinese Language, in 1984 and went through a fast development due to China’s growth. The HSK Test was inspired by the TOEFL (English test) and has been created in order to become the reference in Chinese level evaluation for non-Chinese people.

2) Why take the HSK Test?

Whatever your project in China is, acquiring an HSK level will always be useful. It will also help in precisely identifying your speaking, reading and writing skills in Chinese.

HSK Level Acquired skills
1 - Ability to discuss slowly with local people ;
- Comprehension and using of simple words and sentences in order to satisfy a need ;
- Ability to introduce him/herself and others.
2 - Ability to communicate about familiar or daily subjects in an elementary way ;
- Comprehension and using of sentences and expressions related to typical topics (e.g. work, localization, personal, etc.).
3 - Ability to describe his/her experiences and produce a synthetic opinion ;
- Ability to write simple texts related to familiar or daily topics ;
- Ability to discuss about any basic subject.
4 - Ability to understand the main ideas of a complicated text ;
- Ability to interact spontaneously and fluently with local people concerning regular subjects ;
- Ability to write texts related to different topics and produce a personal opinion.
5 - Ability to understand texts related to a wide range of subjects ;
- Ability to express an idea fluently ;
- Ability to express his/herself efficiently ;
- Ability to write complicated texts in a clear and organized way.
6 - Ability to understand easily any oral or written information, to summarize them and to produce constructive and consistent arguments ;
- Ability to express his/herself very fluently and develop detailed ideas.

Mandarin, with its high value on a resume, is becoming a popular language studied by many professionals and students, and it is therefore important for anyone wishing to blend in China to start learning quickly.
If you are a professional currently looking for employment on the Chinese market, the higher your HSK level is, the higher will be your value in the eyes of a HR Consultant.
If you are a student whose goal is to study in a Chinese university, acquiring an HSK level can be of help in the admission process.

The HSK level will also become a benchmark in the visa process. From April 2017, anyone applying for a Chinese working visa will be assigned a certain amount of points based on his/her professional experiences, study level, Chinese language proficiency, etc. The purpose of this system is to rank the visa applications in order to give prioritized access to people showing a strong potential in the eyes of the Chinese government.

Depending on your score, you will be ranked in one of the 3 following categories :

  • Rank A : High Potential (more than 85 points)
  • Rank B : Medium Potential (between 60 and 85 points)
  • Rank C : Normal Applicant (less than 60 points)

By acquiring an HSK level, you will therefore receive an additional number of points allowing you to improve your score and your rank.

HSK Level 1 2 3 4 5 6
Added number of points on Visa 2 4 6 8 10 10

3) What are the HSK levels ?

Since 2009, a new version of HSK test has been established. Henceforth, there are 6 levels, 1 being the lowest and 6 the highest. For each level, it is required to know a certain amount of words : the higher the level, the more words you will have to learn. However, generally speaking anyone with a level 4 or 5 can easily exchange about any professional or daily topic with locals.

HSK Level Vocabulary words Study time required* Personal work time required
1 150 3h/week 2-3 months 1-2h/week
2 300 3h/week 5-6 months 1-2h/week
3 600 3h/week 12 months 1-2h/week
4 1200 3h/week 20 months 1-2h/week
5 2500 3h/week 30 months 3h/week
6 5000 3h/week 45 months 3h/week

* study time required from level 0

4) Content

Depending on the HSK level you are taking, the exam’s content and/or duration will be different.

Level Oral Comprehension (100 points) Written Comprehension (100 points) Writting (100 points) Time (minutes) Points
1 st column : Number of exercises
2nd column : Number of questions
Total Minimum Score
1 4 20 4 20 0 0 35 200 120/200
2 4 35 4 25 0 0 60 200 120/200
3 4 40 3 30 2 10 85 300 180/300
4 3 45 3 40 2 15 100 300 180/300
5 2 45 3 45 2 10 120 300 180/300
6 3 50 4 50 1 1 135 300 180/300

You also have the possibility to take the HSKK test, whose value is equivalent to HSK, but you will be tested on your oral skills only.

Levels Acquired skills Number of words to learn
A / Beginner Ability to understand and communicate about familiar and daily subjects, with an elementary proficiency 200
B / Intermediate Ability to understand and communicate fluently with local people 900
C / Advanced Ability to understand and express fluently your own opinion concerning any subject 3000

If you want to take the HSKK exam, here are the proceedings for each level :

Level Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 To pass the exam
3 tests per level Content Points Content Points Content Points Minimum score
A / Beginner Listen and repeat sentences 30/100 Answer simple questions 30/100 Answer open questions 40/100 60/100
B / Intermediate Listen and repeat sentences 30/100 Describe a picture 30/100 Answer open questions 40/100 60/100
C / Advanced Re-tell a story with your own words 30/100 Reading outloud 20/100 Answer open questions 50/100 60/100

5) HSK test preparation with TailorMade

If you plan to learn Mandarin and take HSK exam(s), here is a process suggested by TailorMade to reach your objectives :

1. Registering and planning of a trial lesson with one of our teachers
2. Assessment of your current Chinese level and planning of short/middle-term objectives
3. Individual HSK training with a professional teacher
4. Registering to take HSK test
5. Exam Day
6. Exam Results

Furthermore, TailorMade Chinese Center provides you with the vocabulary lists needed to take an HSK Test along with texts and questions that are very similar to those that you will face the day of the test. This content is available on TailorMade’s website (“News & Tips” page), LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.

You can also access it by subscribing to our WeChat account; you simply need to follow these few steps:

  • Step 1: Scan our QR Code
  • Step 2: Go to our official account
  • Step 3: Click on “Daily Use” and “HSK Preparation
    wechat-screenshot-1 wechat-screenshot-2
  • Step 4: Wait a few seconds and start practicing for your HSK exam with TailorMadewechat-screenshot-3 wechat-screenshot-4 wechat-screenshot-5

Since 2009, TailorMade offers high quality classes given by teachers with Genuine Language University degrees, everywhere in Shanghai and for very competitive prices. We also provide these services in other Chinese cities and online, and thanks to our students’ support we received the 2016 Expat Life Award for « Beijing’s Best Chinese Language School ».

Choose the class format that suits you best and register for a 1h trial lesson, without any commitment, at our Jing’an center located at the cross between jiaozhou road and wuding road, your office or home !

TailorMade’s team

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