HSK Test Levels


Each of the HSK test levels have different challenges – especially as you move into more advanced levels! Here we will explain what is included in each level to ensure that you are well informed. Check out the test level pages to find out which test level is right for you and read personalized tips on how to prepare. Remember, Speedy Vocab is the best tool to practice your HSK vocabulary!



Which HSK test level should I take?


  • HSK 1 – for beginners of Chinese who can read simple sentences with pinyin and are capable of basic verbal communication. Consists of a listening and reading part.
  • HSK 2 – for advanced beginners who can use Chinese to talk about simple and everyday tasks in a direct manner. Consists of a listening and reading part.
  • HSK 3 – for intermediate learners who can communicate in Chinese to complete a variety of tasks in their daily, academic and professional lives. Consists of reading, listening and writing parts.
  • HSK 4 – for intermediate learners who can communicate in Chinese about a wide range of topics and converse with native speakers without any major issues. Consists of reading, listening and writing parts.
  • HSK 5 – for advanced learners who can read Chinese newspapers, books, enjoy Chinese movies and plays, and deliver a full length speech in Chinese. Consists of reading, listening and writing parts.
  • HSK 6 – for advanced learners who can understand any information in Chinese and can express themselves easily in both oral and written form. Consists of reading, listening and writing parts.



What is the HSK test?


The Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) is China’s official international standardized exam that tests the language proficiency of Mandarin Chinese language learners. Development of the exam began in 1984 at Beijing Language and Culture University when it was apparent that China lacked an official standardised test for Mandarin Chinese. It then became the national standardised test in 1992. The HSK tests learners on their ability to communicate in Chinese in the context of daily, professional and academic situations.


The first HSK exam was held in 1991. Since then, it has been taken over 100 million times in more than 120 countries. The exam underwent a major overhaul in 2010, updating the content and structure to better reflect the modern and practical use of the language.


The HSK serves a number of purposes, including as a reference for employers in hiring non-native Chinese speakers, a language standard for educational institutions in enrolling non-native Chinese speakers, and a method for Chinese language learners to assess their own progress.



HSK structure


For HSK 1 and 2 there is a listening section and a reading section. For HSK 3 and above there are listening, reading and writing sections. Each section tests a different aspect of your Chinese, and the kinds of questions get progressively more varied and complex.


The listening section generally involves a word, sentence or dialogue being played, after which a multi-choice question is answered. The reading section involves reading comprehension and understanding implied meaning from practical situations. The writing section is a test of the learner’s ability to write Chinese characters from memory and produce language.



How should I prepare for the test?


With Speedy Vocab, you can comprehensively prepare for all parts of the HSK with a three-stage flashcard and sentence revision system that ensures that you not only acquire the vocabulary you need, but also understand how it is used in context. All the vocabulary is organized for you and you are only tested on what you know. With Speedy Vocab, HSK preparation is easy! Click here to try now!



You can also use past papers to your advantage in preparing for the HSK. Time yourself to see how well you might do in the real exam, and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. You can also familiarize yourself with the format of the test to ensure that you get no unwelcome surprises in the real exam.


Click here to download HSK past papers



HSK test admission requirements


To take the HSK exam, you will need to find a local test centre and register for a test date. Test registration is usually open until 30 days prior to the test date. Click here to register for the HSK



What are the HSK test scores used for?



Gaining a high HSK score allows you to enrol in Chinese universities with a higher chance of success. It also allows you to apply for a number of scholarships through the Confucius Institute and the China Scholarship Council for pursuing study in China.


Click here to learn more about HSK Confucius Institute scholarships



Can I retake the test if I fail?


If you fail the test (by scoring less than 120/200 or 180/300), you must pay the registration fee to sit the test again at a later date.



HSK testing centres


There are over 250 HSK test centres worldwide in more than 120 countries.


Click here to find a test centre nearest you

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