HSK: 漢語水平考試


Better late than never:


A number of months ago I studied and studied until I was ready to take the HSK (Hanyu shuiping kaoshi/漢語水平考試, that is ‘Mandarin Chinese level test) level four. (四級)

Honestly, I’m not particularly good at Chinese. I have no natural talent at languages. I have however been constantly writing and rewriting characters over the last several years.

I didn’t take the level three, but the way to study is to memorize 600 vocabulary words from that test, and then 600 more level four. By the way, I’m obviously better at using pinyin feature to learn 漢字, which means I type Latin letters — English alphabet basically — on computers and phones. I can’t actually write all those characters from scratch, but I can definitely recognize them for reading. It’s like even in English I’m a bad speller but thank goodness for technology.

By the way my computer is stuck on Traditional script 繁體字. That’s okay.

I’d estimate I know 1800 to 2000 characters by heart? And still many thousands more to learn…


So I met with my tutor once a week, and she set up the test at Shenzhen University 深大. I took practice tests many times over. The test portions consist of listening, reading, and writing. Putting sentences in order is among the hardest parts, and I improved the most on listening.. I think I average about a solid 80-something percent B.

Somehow my reading is not half-bad for a foreigner, if I do say so myself, yet I still struggle with spoken Chinese. I need to get out there more.

Anyway, it’s been months and now I got the certificate in the mail. I can hang it on my wall and put on a resume. See how that works out for me in the future.



Perhaps next year the HSK 5–


14 thoughts on “HSK: 漢語水平考試

  1. Congratulations. I always have troubles recognizing certain characters as too many look nearly the same for me, even when putting them next to each other it seems that my eyes are playing a trick on me as I sometimes don’t see any difference :p

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations! I have been learning characters for a few months now, and I will admit- I still tend to confuse a lot of them! lol. Like my teacher says, “it comes with a lot of repetition” For example, I have a knack of confusing ‘有‘ and ’看‘ and that’s just one of the easier ones. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats! I can totally relate to your struggles with speaking. I should really be fluent by now (10 years in and having a Chinese spouse!) but I’m not quite there yet. I took the HSK 4 and 5 in 2013. If you are good at reading that will help you a lot with the 5–that part of it is pretty intense. I really hope to take the HSK 6 eventually, but I have a lot more to learn before I get there!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congrats! To most foreigners, learning Chinese is not easy but I believe you have honed it well. Which aspect in Chinese language is the most challenging for you -pronunciation, grammar or writing characters? Keep it up with your good work! 🙂


  5. Congrats! I haven’t tried the new HSK exam but I already gave up on studying characters again after my 3 years as a full time Mandarin student, haha. I basically forgot how to write by hand… such a shame!


  6. Congratulations!! Learning a new language which you are totally unfamiliar with is really a daunting task. Especially the used of the words can easily baffle me haha. Anway, passing an exam is a forsooth piquant news! All the best!!


  7. Congratulations. Being someone who struggles with any foreign languages myself, I have no idea how anyone could remember thousands of characters. Does it get difficult to tell them apart after a while? Also, how do keyboards handle it? I’m genuinely curious about the keyboard part.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pinyin is the official method of using western letters. For example my city of 深圳 is Shenzhen. Computers let you type it out, amd then choose the characters. Follow? There are other methods such as stroke order, and its also tricky because many older Chinese people don’t know pinyin, but especially for students we learn it.

      Also, critics say this is contributing to people getting worse at memorizing, since the computer reminds you. Think of it the way spellcheck is making everyone worse at spelling.。


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