WHAT ARE THE HSK LEVELS?

How many HSK levels are there?
What do I need to pass each HSK level?
How many Chinese characters do I need to learn to pass HSK1?

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.

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

  • There are currently SIX HSK Levels
  • This will change to NINE HSK Levels in 2021
  • Here are LTL we are a HSK Accredited Test Centre
  • Our students have a 95% HSK Exam Pass Rate
HSK LevelCharacters KnownWords KnownAbility upon completion
HSK 1 Elementary178150Can 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 2 Elementary with Honors349300Can 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.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – The HSK is changing in 2021 to nine levels instead of six! Find out more with our article that covers the New HSK extensively!

Here’s a quick rundown on how the current HSK compares to the New HSK.

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)

HSK Vocabulary

  • HSK 1 Vocabulary

    Download all vocabulary needed for the HSK 1 Exam including a previous paper. Study this to give yourself an idea of your Chinese HSK Level. The HSK 1 includes both Pinyin and Hanzi

    Download HSK 1 Vocabulary

  • HSK 2 Vocabulary

    Download all vocabulary needed for the HSK 2 Exam including a previous paper. Study this to give yourself an idea of your Chinese HSK Level. HSK 2 test includes both Hanzi and Pinyin.

    Download HSK 2 Vocabulary

  • HSK 3 Vocabulary

    Download all vocabulary needed for the HSK 3 Exam including a previous paper. Study this to give yourself an idea of your Chinese HSK Level. The 3rd HSK exam includes only Hanzi and no Pinyin.

    Download HSK 3 Vocabulary

  • HSK 4 Vocabulary

    Download all vocabulary needed for the HSK 4 Exam including a previous paper. Study this to give yourself an idea of your Chinese HSK Level. HSK 4 only includes Chinese Hanzi and no Pinyin.

    Download HSK 4 Vocabulary

  • HSK 5 Vocabulary

    Download all vocabulary needed for the HSK 5 Exam including a previous paper. Study this to give yourself an idea of your Chinese HSK Level. The 5th HSK only includes Hanzi and no Pinyin.

    Download HSK 5 Vocabulary

  • HSK 6 Vocabulary

    Download all vocabulary needed for the HSK 6 Exam including a previous paper. Study this to give yourself an idea of your Chinese HSK Level. HSK 6 Exam only includes Hanzi and no Pinyin.

    Download HSK 6 Vocabulary

Ask us a question!
  • LTL Avatar Irene Magnosi
    Irene Magnosi, Student Advisor

    Welcome to LTL Mandarin School!

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