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HSK stands for 汉语水平考试 (hàn yǔ shuí píng kǎo shì) which translates into “Chinese Proficiency Test” or “Chinese Standard Exam.” It is China's only standardized test for Chinese language proficiency for non-native speakers. The test is administered by Hanban. The HSK test consists of a written exam and an oral exam, which are taken separately. The test is comprised of three sections: Reading, Writing, and Listening. Each section is worth 100 points. There is no Writing section for HSK levels 1 and 2, therefore those have a maximum of 200 points.

The Exam

  • HSK 1:

    Designed for learners who can understand and use some simple Chinese characters and sentences to communicate, and prepares them for continuing their Chinese studies. In HSK 1 all characters are provided along with Pinyin. Test takers are required to recognize up to 150 Chinese words.

  • HSK 2:

    Designed for learners who can use Chinese in a simple and direct manner, applying it in a basic fashion to their daily lives. In HSK 2 all characters are provided along with Pinyin. Test takers are required to recognize up to 300 words.

  • A total score of over 120/200 is required to pass either HSK 1 or 2.

  • HSK 3:

    Designed for learners who can use Chinese to serve the demands of their personal lives, studies and work, and are capable of completing most of the communicative tasks they experience during their Chinese tour. Test takers are required to recognize up to 600 words.

  • HSK 4:

    Designed for learners who can discuss a relatively wide range of topics in Chinese and are capable of communicating with Chinese speakers at a high standard. Test takers are required to recognize up to 1200 words.

  • HSK 5:

    Designed for learners who can read Chinese newspapers and magazines, watch Chinese films and are capable of writing and delivering a lengthy speech in Chinese. Test takers are required to recognize up to 2500 words.

  • HSK 6:

    Designed for learners who can easily understand any information communicated in Chinese and are capable of smoothly expressing themselves in written or oral form. Test takers are required to recognize up to 5000 words.

  • HSK levels 3-6 include a writing section. A total score of 180/300 and above is required to pass HSK 3, 4, 5, 6.