What is HSK?

What is HSK?

HSK (Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì/汉语水平考试), also known as the Chinese Proficiency Test or the Chinese Standard Exam, 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. HSK consists of six levels, from easier to more difficult, namely the HSK (level I), HSK (level II), HSK (level III), HSK (level IV), HSK (level V), and HSK (level VI). The test is administered by Hanban, an agency of the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China.

Who Should Take HSK Test?

HSK is a standardized test for non-native speakers such as foreign students who seek education in China, job seekers who are looking for potential positions in China, overseas Chinese and anyone who is interested in studying Chinese. For instance, a job description or an academic institution in China might ask for foreign applicants with "HSK5 or better."

Levels of HSK

HSK tests and rates Chinese (Mandarin Chinese) language proficiency. It assesses non-native Chinese speakers’ abilities in using the Chinese language in their daily, academic and professional lives. HSK consists of six levels, namely the HSK (level I), HSK (level II), HSK (level III), HSK (level IV), HSK (level V), and HSK (level VI). 

Level 1: Test takers are able to understand and use very simple Chinese words and phrases, meet basic needs for communication and possess the ability to further their Chinese language studies. 

  1. Vocabulary: 150 words
  2. Sections: Listening (100 pts) & Reading (100 pts)
  3. Duration: 40 minutes
  4. Total score: 200
  5. Passing score: 120

Level 2: Test takers 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.

  1. Vocabulary: 300 words
  2. Sections: Listening (100 pts) & Reading (100 pts)
  3. Duration: 55 minutes
  4. Total score: 200
  5. Passing score: 120

Level 3: Test takers are able to communicate in Chinese at a basic level in their daily, academic and professional lives. They can manage most communication in Chinese when traveling in China.

  1. Vocabulary: 600 words
  2. Sections: Listening (100 pts) & Reading (100 pts) & Writing (100 pts)
  3. Duration: 90 minutes
  4. Total score: 300
  5. Passing score: 180

Level 4: Test takers are able to converse in Chinese on a wide range of topics and are able to communicate fluently with native Chinese speakers.

  1. Vocabulary: 1200 words
  2. Sections: Listening & Reading & Writing
  3. Duration: 105 minutes
  4. Total score: 300
  5. Passing score: 180

Level 5: Test takers are able to read Chinese newspapers and magazines, enjoy Chinese films and plays, and give a full-length speech in Chinese.

  1. Vocabulary: 2500 words
  2. Sections: Listening & Reading & Writing
  3. Duration: 125 minutes
  4. Total score: 300
  5. Passing score: 180

Level 6: Test takers are able to easily comprehend written and spoken information in Chinese and can effectively express themselves in Chinese, both orally and on paper.

  1. Vocabulary: 5000 or more 
  2. Sections: Listening & Reading & Writing
  3. Duration: 140 minutes
  4. Total score: 300
  5. Passing score: 180

See how much HSK vocabulary you have. 

HSK Test Dates and Locations

The HSK is held at designated test centers in China and abroad. A list of test centers can be found at the HSK website. See test centers in New York

Test registration is usually open until 30 days prior to the actual test date for the paper-based test or around 10 days prior the actual test date for the computer-based test. Results are generally available around 30 days after completion.

Study HSK

Get mock tests to see what your level is and prepare for your future HSK. 

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