HSK test is the official Chinese Proficiency Test that you often need to take if you want to study in a Chinese university. Taking the HSK test is also useful when you want to test your Chinese level or set your self a goal to pursue. In general there are two ways to take the HSK test 1) taking the test without special study, just to check your Chinese level and 2) cram for the test because you need to pass it.
Spring 2013 I passed HSK test level 6 and in this post I want to share some tips that will help you to pass your HSK test, no matter which level you take.
1. Learn the vocabulary
There are certain vocabulary lists for every level.
- HSK 1 150 words
- HSK 2 300 words
- HSK 3 600 words
- HSK 4 1200 words
- HSK 5 2500 words
- HSK 6 5000 words
Even though HSK test will have some words outside the list, you don’t have to memorize the list 100% either. But those lists are a great foundation for your studies and cramming for the HSK. You can find all the HSK vocabulary lists in different formats here.
In order to learn the words, you can use different study tools that also help you to review. Skritter has all the HSK vocabulary lists on their system, you don’t have to download or type anything your self. Easy, fast and efficient!
For levels 1-2 it’s enough that you understand the meaning of the word in listening and reading questions, but on levels 3-6 you have to be able to write too (or type if you take the computer test).
- Level 3 you have to be able to write one characters that is missing in the sentence, in total thee are five sentences. Pinyin is given for the missing character too.
- Level 4 you have five pictures with one word each, you have to write a sentence that describes the picture and includes the given word.
- Level 5 you have to first write a text of 80 characters based on the words you are given. Then you have to write another 80 character text based on a picture.
- Level 6 you are given a text of 1000 characters to read in 10 minutes, after time is up the text is taken away and you have to rewrite it in 400 characters.
In my opinion Skritter is the best online website and app to learn how to write characters.
2. Do as many mock tests as possible
It’s very important to be as familiar with the HSK test as possible. Do as many exercises as you can, check your answers and find out why you made mistakes. Keep a chart of your improvement so you can see your progress, which will motivate you more.
First check out the free mock tests for each level to decide which HSK test to take. But doing one mock test isn’t enough if you really want to or need to pass the exam! Also remember to do your mock exams inside the official time limit, reading speed can make or break your chances to pass.
I recommend HSK practise books by Liu Yun and I have the HSK 6 books on my bookshelf. Here are levels for all the HSK levels I could find on Amazon:
- HSK 1 Model tests
- HSK 4 Listening
- HSK 4 Reading and Writing
- HSK 4 Model tests
- HSK 5 Reading
- HSK 5 Listening
- HSK 5 Writing
- HSK 5 Model tests
- HSK 6 Reading
- HSK 6 Listening
- Check for books on other HSK levels
3. Read extra material for fun and for reading speed
Cramming HSK vocabulary and mock exams might turn out quite boring, so mix it up with other material that will also help with your reading skills. In HSK test, especially the higher levels, reading speed is the key to passing your exam.
- For HSK level 1-3, read Chinese Breeze books
- For HSK 4 leve, read Graded Chinese Reader 3
- For HSK 5 level, read Graded Chinese Reader 1 and Graded Chinese Reader 2
- For HSK 6 level, read Graded Chinese Reader 2 for review and then start reading books written for native speakers
4. Train your listening skills
Listening comprehension is a big part of learning a language and it’s a big part of HSK exam as well. Doing mock tests is good, but you should find other materials to listen as well in order to improve and not get bored.
For example ChinesePod (affiliate link) offers Chinese podcasts on numerous topics from total newbie to an advanced learner. I would recommend you to first listen to the Dialogue mp3 as that’s the pure dialogue all in Chinese. If you can understand 100% or close, change to a harder level. If you understand about 60-70%, listen to the Dialogue mp3 a few times and then listen to the whole show where they explain the vocabulary and grammar to you.
So what is the secret to passing your HSK test? Learn your vocabulary, do mock exams and get your reading speed to the required level. On the higher level you also need to be able to write characters by hand or type with a computer. No matter which level you take, remember to pay attention to the time!
Good luck for your HSK test! If you have any questions, just let me know and I’ll do my best to help you.
- My blog posts about preparing for HSK5 and my thoughts about the HSK5 exam
- My blog posts about learning Chinese in general
- Chinese-Forums.com discussion about the HSK test
- Popup Chinese HSK Test Guide (flash cards and sample exams need free registration)
- HSK Hero
- nciku HSK Character List and Stroke Order Animations