About the HSK
The HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi – Chinese Language Proficiency Test) refers to a group of tests that measure the language ability of foreigners and non-native speakers of Mandarin Chinese.
Initially developed in the 1980s, the HSK gradually became recognized as a good benchmark of a student’s Mandarin Chinese ability during the 1990s. Over a million foreign students and non-native speakers from ethnic minorities in China have taken the exam over this period.
The HSK can be taken at any of three levels – Basic, Intermediate and Advanced.
Participants taking the Basic level can achieve a grade of between 1-3, with 1 being the lowest passing grade and representing an ability to comprehend and put together simple sentences. Knowledge of around 600 Chinese characters is necessary for a student to reach this level.
Participants taking the Intermediate level can achieve a grade of between 3-8. As a general rule, foreign students can enrol on a regular undergraduate course in science, engineering or similar subjects at a Chinese University if they have achieved a minimum of grade 4. Students that wish to join a humanities-related course will usually require grade 6 or higher.
Participants taking the Advanced level can achieve a grade of between 9 and 11. A candidate that achieves level 11 is considered capable of working as a translator at the intermediate level. A student reaching this level will need to know several thousand Chinese characters. The Advanced level of the HSK also includes a speaking section. Currently the Basic and Intermediate levels only focus on listening, reading and writing.
Examinations are held in many locations both inside and outside China several times a year. We will provide schedules for upcoming exams on this website.
Although the HSK is widely recognized by employers in Korea and Japan as a good measure of Chinese language proficiency, it is still not well-known or understood by most western companies. This will likely change in the coming years as more students outside of Asia start to study Chinese.