The HSK is the official Mandarin language proficiency test of China, and it is necessary to take if you want to study at a Chinese university. But even if you don’t, the HSK is a good test to prove your Mandarin is legit.

This article will walk you through my five-step study plan to pass your next HSK. This is not a cram method, so if you have more than six weeks before your exam wonderful. Keep reading. 

If not, read on and bookmark for later.

Step One

Buy a HSK test prep practice book. Here are the ones that I recommend: New HSK Simulated Tests, HSK 1, HSK 2, HSK 3, HSK 4, HSK 5, and HSK6.

The books featured above are all in Chinese. If they are too tricky for you to work with, then try the HSK prep books featured below which include English instructions: New HSK Practice Tests:HSK 1, HSK 2, HSK 3, HSK 4, HSK 5, and HSK 6.

Step Two

Take at least six practice tests, one each week.

Step Three

Score your test and for step four, only focus on the answers you got wrong..

Step Four

Scrutinize your wrong answers. Underline and look up the vocabulary you’re not sure about. Make a flashcard for each word you miss with either paper or an app. Then review them every chance you get.

Step Five

Review each wrong question with a tutor so that you understand why you answered incorrectly. For several days before you take your second practice test, review your flashcards continuously.

The Final Step

If you follow my process religiously, you should notice that your scores will improve with each consecutive practice you complete. 

Once you’ve finished your 4th practice exam, it’s time to take tests with a timer. You must limit yourself to the time allotted on the actual test to simulate the pressure.  Be strict with yourself. If you don’t finish a section in time, accept your lower score and move on. For the 5th and 6th practice tests, you must take the entire test in one sitting. 

Here’s the good news: each HSK level has a set number of words you need to know in order to do well. Follow my method exactly and you’ll have learned all of the words on the list – if you were honest when adding vocabulary to your flashcard deck.

HSK 4 study tips by Fran!

Fran is one of Elementary Chinese’s lovely community members on Instagram. She was so inspired by my practical tips for passing the HSK exams that she decided to share her own. Fran is currently studying for HSK 4. Watch the video below to hear all about how to colour coordinate your tones, and remembering those rogue Chinese characters.

What HSK level am I?

HSK (Level I) students can understand and use very simple Chinese phrases, meet basic needs for communication and possess the ability to further their Chinese language studies.

HSK (Level II) students have an excellent grasp of basic Chinese and can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.

HSK (Level III) students can communicate in Chinese at a basic level in their daily, academic and professional lives. They can manage most communication in Chinese when traveling in China.

HSK (Level IV) students can converse in Chinese on a wide range of topics and are able to communicate fluently with native Chinese speakers.

HSK (Level V) students can read Chinese newspapers and magazines, enjoy Chinese films and plays and give a full-length speech in Chinese.

HSK (Level VI) students can easily comprehend written and spoken information in Chinese and can effectively express themselves in Chinese, both orally and on paper.

If you’re still struggling to study for your next HSK exam, leave a comment below. If you have tips for someone who is struggling to study for their next HSK exam, leave a comment below. Share the love between your fellow community members. 

And remember, good good study, day day up!

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Kwadwo [QUĀ]
Kwadwo [QUĀ], creator of Elementary Chinese, helps expats in China learn the day-to-day Chinese they need – to communicate what they want. He lives in Tianjin, China. Follow him on, Instagram or YouTube to learn the kind of Mandarin you can actually use right away in everyday China life.
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