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Home < Chinese Certification < HSK < Introduction

Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK)

HSK Introduction

The new HSK test was launched by Hanban in an effort to better serve Chinese language learners. The test is the result of coordinated efforts by experts from different disciplines including Chinese language teaching, linguistics, psychology and educational measurement. The new exam combines the advantages of the original HSK while taking into consideration recent trends in Chinese language training by conducting surveys and making use of the latest findings in international language testing.

The new HSK is an international standardized exam that tests and rates Chinese language proficiency. It assesses non-native Chinese speakers’ abilities in using the Chinese language in their daily, academic and professional lives. The new HSK consists of a writing test and a speaking test, which are independent of each other. There are six levels of writing tests, namely the HSK (level I), HSK (level II), HSK (level III), HSK (level IV), HSK (level V), and HSK (level VI). There are three levels of speaking tests, namely the HSK (beginner level), HSK (intermediate level), and HSK (advanced level). During the speaking test, test takers’ speeches will be recorded.

Writing Test Speaking Test
HSK (Level VI) HSK (Advanced Level)
HSK (Level V)
HSK (Level IV) HSK (Intermediate Level)
HSK (Level III)
HSK (Level II) HSK (Beginner Level)

Test Levels

The different levels of the new HSK are similar to some of the levels in the Chinese Language Proficiency Scales for Speakers of Other Languages (CLPS) and the Common European Framework of Reference (CEF); details are as follows:

New HSK Vocabulary CLPS CEF
HSK (Level VI) Over 5,000 Level V C2
HSK (Level V) 2500 C1
HSK (Level IV) 1200 Level IV B2
HSK (Level III) 600 Level III B1
HSK (Level II) 300 Level II A2
HSK (Level I) 150 Level I A1

Test takers who are able to pass the HSK (Level I) can understand and use very simple Chinese phrases, meet
basic needs for communication and possess the ability to further their Chinese language studies.

Test takers who are able to pass the HSK (Level II) have an excellent grasp of basic Chinese and can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
Test takers who are able to pass the HSK (Level III) can communicate in Chinese at a basic level in their daily,
academic and professional lives. They can manage most communication in Chinese when travelling in China.

Test takers who are able to pass the HSK (Level IV) can converse in Chinese on a wide range of topics and are
able to communicate fluently with native Chinese speakers.

Test takers who are able to pass the HSK (Level V) can read Chinese newspapers and magazines, enjoy Chinese films and plays, and give a full-length speech in Chinese.

Test takers who are able to pass the HSK (Level VI) can easily comprehend written and spoken information in

Chinese and can effectively express themselves in Chinese, both orally and on paper.

Test Principles

The new HSK follows the principle of “test-teaching correlation”, bases the design of the test on the current trends in international Chinese language training, and is closely related to textbooks. The purpose of the test is to “promote training through testing” and “promote learning through testing”.
The new HSK emphasizes the objectivity and accuracy of the evaluation and stresses the learners’ actual Chinese language abilities.

The new HSK sets clear test objectives to allow the test takers to be able to improve their Chinese language abilities in a systematic and efficient way.

Testing Purposes

The new HSK retains the former HSK’s orientation as a general (or universal) Chinese language abilities test for adult learners. The results of the test can serve several purposes:

  1. A reference for an educational institution’s decision-making concerning recruiting students, assigning students to different classes, allowing students to skip certain courses and giving students academic credits.
  2. A reference for employers’ decision-making concerning the recruitment, training and promotion of test takers.
  3. A method for Chinese language learners to assess and improve their proficiency in Chinese.
  4. A method for Chinese language training institutions to evaluate training results.


How to Take the HSK

Test Instruction

HSK Listening Test is a computerized test. Test questions and possible answers are shown on the screen of the computer. Test takers should use the mouse to click on the correct answer. The questions in the listening section will be played from the headphones. Each question will be played twice in Band A tests, but only once in Band B and Band C tests. After that, there are five seconds given for test takers to click on the answer before the next test item is played.

Tips for Preparation
• Preparation

1. Be familiar with the test
Obtain information of the test, including the features, target test takers, test content, test procedures, and test regulations, so that you won’t get agitated when you are at the test.

2. Have a clear study objective
Constant practice is the key to learning a language. You will certainly have a better chance of passing the test if you have a clear study objective. You can watch movies on daily-life topics to get used to the speed and style of daily talk. You can also listen to radio programs or some listening materials that come with Chinese textbooks. It also helps you catch the main points of the talk if you practice taking notes on some keywords when listening. Many good listening activities are prepared in textbooks widely used in Taiwan, such as: Practical Audio-visual Chinese, Far East Everyday Chinese, Chinese Folktales, Mandarin Daily News, Mini Radio Plays, Newspaper Readings, Ideology and Society, Advanced Chinese Readers, etc.

3. Mock Test
You can practice taking the HSK mock tests, to feel how it is to answer the test items with time pressure. This also helps you get familiar with the types of test items and sharpen your answering skills.

• At the test

  1. Relax, but focus your attention to listen to the test items.
  2. Each question will be played twice in Band A tests, but only once in Band B and Band C tests. After that, there are five seconds given for test takers to click on the answer before the next test item is played. While listening, you can start to look at the possible answers displayed on the test booklet or the computer screen. This should give you more time to respond.
  3. Questions will be played in a fixed sequence. There is no way to return to the previous items. Do not spend too much time on any item, otherwise you may miss the next item.
  4. For test items in Band A tests, you may pay special attention to some transitional words or phrases. This may help you understand the relations between the sentences.
  5. For test items in Band B tests, the passages are longer, and each passage comes with several (2 to 5) questions. We suggest that you to listen carefully to the directions before each passage. You can also try to find clues to understanding by focusing on the transitional words, speech context, and the tones and intonation of the speakers, to grasp the overall meaning of the talk.
  6. In Band C tests, the passages are longer than those in other Bands, You are advised to take notes of some points while listening on the paper we prepare for you. However, please do not attempt to take down every word, as that is definitely impractical and not helpful at all.


Quote from Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters

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