What is the HSK exam?

HSK exam 汉语 水平 考试 hànyǔ shuǐpíng kǎoshì

HSK is an international qualification exam in Chinese. In fact, it is even a series of exams to determine the level of Chinese (汉语) for people who study it as a foreign language.

Many of you are familiar with TOEFL – an exam in English, which consists of several aspects and is a good indicator of knowledge of English (with a high result, of course).

HSK is almost the same, only in Chinese. So, let’s see what the HSK exam consists of, what is it for and is it necessary to take it at all?

Until 2010, HSK was divided into 4 levels, depending on the complexity. In addition, each level was divided into sublevels (three sublevels), which were called A, B, C (A – the highest sublevel, C – the lowest sublevel).

Now everything has become much simpler: there are six levels of HSK – the first is the simplest, the sixth is the most difficult.

Before passing the exam, you need to decide on which level you pass (from 1 to 6), since you yourself determine the level you want to get, and your results determine whether you get it or not (usually passing score: 180 or more out of 300) .

Consider each of the levels separately:

HSK Level 1

The most basic level – to prepare for it, it is enough to learn at least 150 frequently used words. The level consists of listening and reading, includes 40 tasks, the main essence of which is: listen to / read the sentence, select the appropriate picture, fill in the blanks, select the correct options. Time for answers and filling out forms with personal information: 40 minutes. Passing score: 120 out of 200.

HSK Level 2

The second level is also not very complicated, you need to know the whole (at least) 300 words. Listening and reading are also present here, but there are already 60 tasks: to determine the meaning of a phrase or dialogue, choose the correct answer, fill in the blanks – this is what is proposed to be done in 55 minutes of the allotted time. The passing score here is the same: 120 out of 200.

HSK Level 3

The third level refers to the middle ones, in addition to reading and listening, it has a writing part where you need to make sentences and fill in gaps. To approach it minimally prepared, you need to know at least 600 frequently used words. The number of sentences in the tasks that need to listen / read and understand increases. Everything about everything (80 tasks) is given 90 minutes. Passing score here and at all subsequent levels: 180 out of 300.

HSK Level 4

The fourth level goes farther and farther along serpentine complexity, having already absorbed 100 tasks that must be completed in 105 minutes, knowing at the same time at least 1,200 Chinese words! Listening and reading will have to be small, but texts, and in the written part you have to write sentences yourself.

HSK Level 5

From here begin the difficult levels. They are difficult because the subject is offered voluminous texts both for reading and listening (and even for writing), full of new and incomprehensible words. Here the minimum vocabulary should already exceed 2500 words, now and then there are proper names, as well as incomprehensible terms from scientific journals and the like. In the written part you will have to write and write texts on the picture and the proposed hieroglyphs. The exam is generously given as much as 125 minutes (which will pass unnoticed).

HSK Level 6

Well, we got to the top of the mastery of giving in to Chinese … Vocabulary, necessary in order to at least somehow approach the HSK-6 – 5000 words! We’ll have to write a presentation, read a bunch of texts, listen to the most difficult dialogues – and all this in 140 minutes! In HSK-6, one hundred and one abundant task with rare and specific hieroglyphs. It remains only to wish success to all who dared to receive this highest and most complex certificate.

What does the HSK exam consist of? Now let’s think about what it is for:

The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, for admission to a Chinese university. Different universities have different requirements, but they are almost identical in the requirements for specialties. Basically, for admission to a bachelor’s degree in a Chinese university, 4 levels of HSK are sufficient; upon admission to a humanitarian specialty, the requirements are higher.

Now for the job. Yes, indeed, already now many employers offering work with the Chinese language write in the requirements, for example, “HSK level 5 and above”. Itself faced it several times. But vacancies were in China.

There are a lot of opinions about the exam. Someone thinks that it is needed only for admission to a Chinese university or for finding a job in China. Someone says that he is not needed at all, but someone, on the contrary, that without a certificate, the Sinologist is not a Sinologist.

The choice is yours – to pass it is not so difficult. And believe me, just pass on some level. But about the objectivity of the assessment of knowledge (due to the availability of special textbooks to prepare for the HSK and even special preparatory courses), I would argue …