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These are common questions we get asked a lot so here is a definitive guide to those.

When starting a course of Chinese study, it’s helpful to understand how the class levels are defined and divided.

LTL uses the HSK/EU Classification System of Language Ability for all its courses.

The A1 course starts from complete beginner level, each HSK level takes 60 hours of small LTL group class to complete.

Our student Emma passed the HSK 6 in just 14 months, find out how here
  • There are currently SIX HSK Levels
  • This will change to NINE HSK Levels in 2021
  • Our students have a 95% HSK Exam Pass Rate

DID YOU KNOW – You take a free HSK vocabulary test to get a rough idea of your Chinese proficiency. We have tests for all 6 HSK Levels.

HSK LevelCharacters KnownWords KnownAbility upon completion
HSK 1178150Can understand and use familiar Chinese everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
HSK 2349300Can understand sentences and frequently used Chinese expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
HSK 2-3485450Can understand and express basic life topics clearly and understands sentence patterns, like forming a question, comparing things or describing objects.
HSK 3623600Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
HSK 41,0711,200Can understand the main ideas of complex Chinese text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
HSK 51,7092,500Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer mandarin texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
HSK 62,6335,000Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources of Chinese language, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.


You can also buy the HSK books online from Amazon through our website below. Simply click the level and you’ll be re-directed to the Amazon website to purchase from there.

IMPORTANT – For HSK 4, 5 and 6 there are two books for each of those levels, the 上 and the 下. Below we offer only the 上. You can find the 下 editions on Amazon also if you wish.




HSK 4 (上)

HSK 5 ()

HSK 6 ()

Please note these links are affiliate links and LTL Mandarin School take a small cut of any sales made, with the rest going to Amazon and the lister of the product.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – The HSK is changing in 2022 to nine levels instead of six! Find out more with our article that covers the New HSK extensively!

It’s worth noting that the rollout for this seems to have been somewhat delayed given the current situation around the world.

It was recently revealed these changes will be made in March 2022, but the rollout still remains unclear.

What we do know is the proposed changing of levels, as shown in the video here, and table below.

Discover all 500 words in the NEW HSK 1 Syllabus
Find out what’s changing with our NEW HSK Breakdown

Here’s a quick rundown on how the current HSK compares to the New HSK, not all details are confirmed but to date, this is what we know.

LevelNew HSKCurrent HSK
HSK 1500150
HSK 21,272300
HSK 32,245600
HSK 43,2451,200
HSK 54,3162,500
HSK 65,4565,000
HSK 711,092 (TBC)
HSK 811,092 (TBC)
HSK 911,092 (TBC)


How many levels are in the HSK?

Currently there are six levels but this is due to change to nine.

There is a new HSK proposed for the latter half of 2021 which you can find out about here in our blog post about the changes to the HSK.

Which is the easiest HSK level?

HSK 1 is the first level to pass.

Currently this requires 150 Chinese words knowledge.

This will most likely be changed to 500 in the near future making it harder to pass.

What does HSK stand for?

Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì (汉语水平考试)

If I pass HSK 6 does that make me a fluent speaker?

As the HSK actually doesn’t test speaking this is difficult to answer.

If you pass HSK 6 you are clearly very proficient in Chinese when it comes to reading and understanding text.

However, there are instances when a HSK 6 student might only be a HSK 3-4 speaker for example.

This depends how the student studies and how much speaking they do.

How often are the HSK Exams?

We have a list of the test dates (for China) on our HSK page here.

Note this will vary by each country but generally, there is a test every month.