What Is HSK?

HSK stands for Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì, (Chinese: 汉语水平考试), translated as Chinese Proficiency Test. HSK is China’s only standardized test of Standard Chinese language proficiency for non-native speakers such as foreign students and overseas Chinese.

The test is administered by Hanban, a non-government organization affiliated with the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China.

The HSK test approximates the English TOEFL, and an HSK certificate is valid without any limitation in China. The test aims to be a certificate of language proficiency for higher educational and professional purposes.




HSK Format

The current format was introduced in 2012, with a philosophy of testing “comprehensive language and communication ability”. There are altogether 6 levels of tests.

Level Vocabulary Written test Oral test Description
(cumulative / new)
(cumulative / new)
Listening Reading Writing
1 150 150 176 176 20 questions,
15 min
20 questions,
17 min
Not tested 17 min 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.
2 300 150 352 176 35 questions,
25 min
25 questions,
22 min
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 as well.
3 600 300 621 269 40 questions 30 questions 10 items 21 min 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.
4 1200 600 1067 446 45 questions 40 questions 15 items 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
5 2500 1300 1687 620 45 questions 45 questions 10 items 24 min Designed for learners who can read Chinese newspapers and magazines, watch
Chinese films and are capable of writing and delivering a lengthy speech in
6 5000 2500 2663 976 50 questions 50 questions 1 composition Designed for learners who can easily understand any information communicated in
Chinese and are capable of smoothly expressing themselves in written or oral

Listening, Reading and Writing each have a maximum score of 100.
HSK 1 and 2 therefore have a maximum score of 200 with 120 points required to pass.
HSK 3, 4, 5 and 6 have a maximum of 300 points with 180 points required to pass.
There is no minimum amount of points required for each of the sections as long as the sum is over 120 or 180 points respectively.


Test Principles

The new HSK follows the principle of “test-teaching correlation”, bases the design of the test on the current trends in international Chinese language training, and is closely related to textbooks. The purpose of the test is to “promote training through testing” and “promote learning through testing”.

The new HSK emphasizes the objectivity and accuracy of the evaluation and stresses the learners’ actual Chinese language abilities.

The new HSK sets clear test objectives to allow the test takers to be able to improve their Chinese language abilities in a systematic and efficient way.


Test Dates, Fees & Centres

To check for the dates, fees and test centres, you can register for the HSK test online: http://www.chinesetest.cn/


Results Certificate

Test takers will receive the results for the new HSK issued by Hanban within three weeks after the test.

    From 加拿大 (Canada)

HSK Learning Materials

This Common Chinese Words application is designed based on HSK official guidelines utilizing frequently-used vocabulary, characters and grammar. For more info, click here.

HSK learning software

source: Wikipedia, Confucious Institute Online

3 thoughts on “What Is HSK?”

  1. Respectful all,
    As a “Chinese” overseas living in Geneva Switzerland (French/German/English) and brought up from time to time in several linguisitc and cultural contexts since kid (English/Singaporean).
    Need stability for a couple of months to learn intensively Chinese as a foreign language : minimum 1 – 3 months, according to statistics of IPSA (International Programme for Studies Abroad) of Xiamen, Fujian province. I have learned on a “self-motivated” and “self-learning” basis during two years, with very little classroom workshops, as there are lacking students to attend Chinese linguistics as a foreign language. Meanwhile, I have kind of learning “business” English first on a “self-motivated” and “self-learning” basis, as also there were lacking students to learn Business English, before attending classroom for current English workshop for 3 months. (All together around 9 months). Indeed during my experience of life, there are several official languages the places where I have lived with my parents and also to manage the “mandatory” educational programme, without bearing the counter-productive effects having too much to learn and to integrate and of course.
    Please recommend a school, b’cause I haven’t got the name of the school ! It has a full description of the location of the school however, what’s the name of the school please ? Is it Chinese Mandarin school in Xiamen ? Furthermore, thanks for your written invitation before applying, complying and filling in the
    appropriate immigration forms to enter the country. (Meaning transports, immigration visa fees, scholarship fees, accomodations, leisure and other “volunteering” activities with school during my stay with you). Of course, the site IPSA is friendly. However, while the site precisely says “contact us”, they have mentioned all the conditions to comply with and for the settlement of fees. However, they haven’t mentioned the invitation from the school I need before departing for the IPSA programme. As a matter of fact, the travel agent has informed me and summerised over the phone.
    Thanks for your kind assistance in these matters. Kind regards,

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