Chinese Language Proficiency Test (HSK)

Chinese Language Proficiency Test (HSK)


Introduction


The Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì (HSK) translated as the Chinese Proficiency Test or the Chinese Standard Exam, is China's only standardized test of Standard Chinese language proficiency for non-native speakers such as foreign students and overseas Chinese.

It is not uncommon to refer to a standard or level of proficiency by the HSK level number, or score. For example, a job description might ask for foreign applicants with "HSK5 or better."

The test is administered by Hanban, an agency of the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China.




Background, Purpose and Use


Development began in 1984 at Beijing Language and Culture University and in 1992 the HSK was officially made a nationalstandardized test. By 2005, over 120 countries had participated as regular host sites and the tests had been taken around 100 million times (domestic ethnic minority candidates included). The general count of candidates from outside of China is stated as being around 1.9 million. In 2011, Beijing International Chinese College became the first HSK testing center to conduct the HSK test online.

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.

Each year HSK certificates are issued to those who meet required scores. Unlike the Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language offered in Taiwan and administered in traditional Chinese characters, the HSK is administered in Simplified Chinese. In addition, test takers with outstanding results can win a scholarship for short-term language study in China.

 



Current Structure (since 2010)


The current format was introduced in 2010, with a philosophy of testing "comprehensive language and communication ability". Most notable is the inclusion of written segments at all levels (not just Advanced, as in the pre-2010 test), reformation of the ranking system, and use of new question structures. Complete vocabulary lists, previous tests, and simulated tests are available as preparation materials. A minor update of the vocabulary lists was made in 2012.

The HSK consists of a written test and an oral test, which are taken separately. This oral test is also known as the HSKK

The Listening, Reading and Writing tests each have a maximum score of 100. HSK 1 and 2, therefore have a maximum score of 200 with 120 points required to pass. The higher levels 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.

Hanban provides examples of the exam for the different levels together with a list of words that need to be known for each level. These examples are also available (together with the audio for the Listening Test) on the websites of the Confucius Institute at QUT and HSK Academy.




Estimates of Equivalent CEFR Levels


In 2010, Hanban stated that the HSK's six levels correspond directly to the six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) This statement has been rejected by both the German and the French association of Chinese language teachers, which argue that HSK level 6 is equivalent to CEFR level B2 or C1.

 

HSK   level

Hanban estimate

German association estimate

French association estimate

6

C2

B2

B2-C1

5

C1

B1

B1

4

B2

A2

A2

3

B1

A1

A1-A2

2

A2

A1.1

A1.1

1

A1

Below A1

Below A1




 

Oral Test


The HSKK test is a separate test. However, the three HSKK levels correspond with the six HSK levels of the written test.

HSK   level

HSKK   level

ECR

Words

Questions

Minutes

1

Beginner

A

200

27

17

2

3

Intermediate

B

900

14

21

4

5

Advanced

C

3000

6

24

6





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. Test dates are published annually and written tests are more frequently held than spoken ones, generally around once a month, depending on the test center. 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 (but no definite date is given for results).




Registration Procedure


  • On-line registration

  • Register at the venue

  • Register via mail

After confirmation of registration, ticket will be given to the candidate in person upon his or her arrival at the testing site.
Details of registration requirements is available at the venue, HSK website or by your university.



Results Certificate


Approximately 2 to 3 months the HSK certificate and score report will be mailed to the HSK centers or agencies by the sponsoring institution. The candidates may get the certificate and score report either by collecting themselves at the test center or by mail from the test center. 

The HSK certificate has permanent validity, whereas the period of validity of the score report, as a certification for foreign students to enter a college or university in China, is two years (beginning from the date when the test is administered).



Duration of Test in Mainland China


Month

Date

Subject

March

13th Sunday

1-6

April

9th Saturday

1-6

May

22th Sunday

1-6+oral test

June

26th Saturday

1-6

July

24th Sunday

1-6

September

4th Sunday

1-6

October

23th Sunday

1-6+oral test

December

4th  Sunday

1-6+oral test



 

Contact Information 


Address: No.15, Xueyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing, People’s Republic of China


Mail Address: the HSK Center, Beijing Language and Culture University


Postcode: 100083


Telephone: (010) 82303672, 82303962


Fax: (008610) 82303962


E—mail:HSK-service@blcu.edu.cn

You can register for the HSK test online:

www.chinesetest.cn
http://www.mandarinhouse.com/HSK http://www.chinesetesting.cn/goliuchengtu.do


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