All about the Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK)

The Chinese Proficiency Test is also known as HSK and is a standardized test which is designed and developed by the HSK Centre of Beijing Language and Culture University. It is for non-native speakers which includes foreigners, overseas Chinese and students from Chinese national minorities.

The test has three categories:

HSK Basic – beginning level

The beginning level is for students who have acquired 400 to 3000 words in basic Chinese. The test lasts about 135 minutes and includes listening comprehension, grammar and reading comprehension.

HSK Elementary-Intermediate – elementary to intermediate level

The elementary to intermediate level is for students who have mastery of 2000 to 5000 Chinese words and who know certain rules of grammar. The test lasts about 145 minutes and includes listening comprehension, grammar, reading comprehension and filling in blanks.

HSK Advanced – advanced level

The advanced level is for students who are able to use 5000 to 8000 words in Chinese and who know the corresponding rules of grammar. The test lasts about 155 minutes and includes listening comprehension, reading comprehension, comprehensive expression, composition and an oral examination.

Why should you pass the test?

First of all, after passing the test you have a official certificate about your Chinese language skills. This could help you when you apply for a new job.

In addition, the certificate is necessary when you want to apply to different types of schools at various levels in China.

And the Chinese proficiency certificates allow their holders to be exempt from Chinese courses at the corresponding level.

What do you need for the test?

After being registered for the HSK (you could do it at a HSK centre) you need the following things for the test:

  • HSK permit
  • valid identification card
  • pencil and eraser

When is the test?

The Chinese Proficiency Test is held in China and in foreign countries every year.

In China:

  • Beginners’ HSK: twice a year (2nd Sunday of May and 3rd Sunday of December)
  • Elementary and intermediate HSK: three times a year (2nd Sunday of May, 1st Sunday of July and 3rd Sunday of December)
  • Advanced HSK: once a year (in Beijing: 4th Sunday of May; in Shanghai and other cities: 2nd Saturday of May)

In foreign countries:

For all levels: once a year (either on March 15, May 17, September 20 or October 25). For more details you have to contact the HSK examination.

Would you like to improve your Chinese skills before writing the test? Check our language schools here.

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