You’re about to register for a HSK exam or thinking about it? Here’s all the essential information about the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi in one short FAQ article.
Why should I take the HSK test?
The HSK certificate is the Chinese certificate of language proficiency in Mandarin Chinese for higher educational and professional purposes in Mainland China. Are you going to study or work in China or are you applying for a Chinese scholarship? Then the HSK certificate might come in handy. Since it’s a standardized test – it also serves as a reference to assess Chinese language proficiency.
What language skills does the HSK exam assess?
The HSK exam assesses non-native Chinese speakers’ abilities in using the Chinese language in their daily, academic and professional lives. The exam tests listening and reading comprehension as well as writing skills (starting from HSK level 3). The HSK exam doesn’t test your oral abilities in Chinese. There is a special HSK speaking test for that.
Where is the HSK certificate applicable?
The HSK certificate is an internationally recognized certificate and the standard reference for Chinese language proficiency in Mainland China.
For how long is my HSK certificate valid?
The HSK certificate is valid for life. Just be aware that most Chinese universities may want to see a certificate that’s not older than two years.
Where can I take the HSK Test?
You can take the HSK test almost all over the world. The Hanban organization behind the HSK exam keeps track of all HSK test centers. Enter the exam you want to take and find the HSK test center nearest to you.
You can register for the HSK exam on the official Hanban HSK website. You need to create an user account first.
Can I take the HSK test at home?
No, you have to go to a authorized test HSK center to take the exam.
Is a dictionary allowed during the HSK test? Can I bring my laptop to the exam?
No, you can’t bring your dictionary or laptop to the HSK exam or for that matter any of the following items: a recorder, camera, MP3, mobile phone, tablet, textbook or other articles “irrelevant to the test”.
Should I take the offline or online HSK test?
According to Hanban the only difference between the two tests is that one is paper-based and the other internet-based. The internet-based test has one advantage though: you can write characters using Pinyin on your keyboard which for most HSK-participants is both easier and faster.
What if I fail the HSK Test? Can I retake it?
You can retake the test as many times if you want (though not for free of course).
Who grades the HSK Tests?
The Hanban organization grades all HSK exams in their central headquarters in Beijing. Exam papers have to be sent from your local HSK test center to the Chinese capital to be graded.
Where and when can I find out my HSK Test results?
One month after the end of the test, you can visit the HSK test service website. Input your ticket number of your Test Admit Card and your name to view your test score. Be sure that your input information matches that on Test Admit Card. For the certificate you should contact your local test center.
How do HSK levels compare to the CEFR proficiency levels?
HSK consists of six levels. How do these HSK levels correspond to the European Framework of Reference for languages? Do they correspond directly to the European proficiency levels (A1-C2)? Hanban claims that they do, but I’d agree with the skeptics on this topic that this statement is too optimistic. HSK 5 for example might actually be closer to the skills described for language level B1, though that may vary from case to case:
Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
Can deal with most situations likely to arise while traveling in an area where the language is spoken.
Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
And let’s not forget that the standard HSK exam does not test oral language proficiency, so not all language skills are examined. But anyway, let’s keep that to ourselves.