Pass the HSK 6 – Our Top 10 Tips
The following post has been brilliantly put together by Kathryn Miles, a U.S student who spent 2017 studying with LTL. Her progress in this time was impressive. Below she gives ten expert tips on how to pass the HSK 6 exam.
I studied intensive Mandarin 1-on-1 at LTL Beijing during the Fall of 2017 and decided to take the HSK 6 at the end of my time there. Although the HSK 6 wasn’t the main focus of my studies at LTL, my teachers were incredibly helpful in preparing me for it. Here are a handful of tips I learned along the way.
My Top Tips for Taking the HSK 6
Create a study plan and stick to it
I recommend doing a practice test to see what your weaknesses are well in advance of the test, then creating a study plan based on that. For example, I added time spent on HSK 6 prep books to my regular study routine and tried to do one practice test per week during the last two months before the test. It’s also important to have a teacher look at your Writing samples and give you feedback.
Quickly scan the Listening section answer choices
Before you listen to the audio scan over the answers and mark what you think the answers are as you hear things in the passage. If you can scan the answer choices before the audio passage begins, and if you are familiar with the types of questions that are usually asked on the Listening section, you might be able to anticipate the answers to the longer passages. (Of course, be careful not to focus so much on reading the answer choices that you forget to listen to the passage, and make sure you actually listen to the questions to confirm what you predicted would be asked!)
Don’t second-guess your answers on the Listening section
At the end of the Listening section you will be given 5 minutes to go back and look at/change your answers. You should be sure to not leave any questions blank, but try to resist the urge to change the answers you’ve already chosen. You can’t listen to the passages again and you might not even remember what the question was.
Pay very close attention to the proper usage of words and idioms
Knowing the meaning of a word is not enough. You must know how to use it! This includes knowing which part of speech it is, as well as knowing how it differs from synonyms.
Save your weaker sub-sections for the end
If there is a sub-section you find particularly difficult, it’s better to do sections you are stronger at first, and then go back to that other sub-section. I think the 语病 section of the test is the most difficult part of the Reading section for me, so I did that section last.
Practice reading about (and listening to) materials that are about a wide variety of topics.
I found practice test subjects to be similar to the subjects on the actual test… and I realized I rarely read things about bacteria and other scientific topics, so I had to start familiarizing myself with those topics in Chinese!
Do not read everything in the Reading section!
Time is way too short to read the entire passage. Read the multiple-choice questions first, then go back and find the answers in the longer article.
Come up with a strategy for remembering the sequence of events in the Writing section.
After reading the Writing passage once, I use my fingers to count the sequence of events and try to memorize them in order. For example, 1= setting/characters/main theme, 2= some point of action that happens next, 3= the next location they’re at/what happened there, and so on. Before the timer ticks down I review these points in my head. I use this to jog my memory of the other, smaller details. One of my teachers suggested a similar strategy, which is to simultaneously read and create a picture or movie in your head so that you can remember the sequence of events and details.
Pay attention to the conclusion or “lesson” of the Writing passage
What is the story trying to teach us? What’s the point of the story? This is important! You might even want to look at it before you read the rest of the passage.
Be prepared for the actual test to be harder than the practice tests
I found the computer test to be harder than any of the practice tests I’d taken. This may be for a few reasons. First, I think that some of the content was actually harder on the real test. Second, I think doing the reading and listening sections on the computer is a bit harder than using paper because you can’t make any markings, underline things, or make notes. I strongly recommend doing a practice run for the computer test if your testing site allows it. Third, I was more nervous on the actual test day!
So, did I pass the HSK6?
I reached my goal of passing the HSK 6! However, I could still improve my score, so I might take the test again in the future. Overall, studying for the HSK 6 helped me increase my vocabulary and improve my reading speed, and I’m glad I took this test. I would also encourage HSK 6 test-takers to never neglect other aspects of language study– don’t forget to challenge yourself to improve real-life Mandarin communication skills in addition to preparing for the HSK!
To find out more about the HSK Exam from beginner to advanced level please feel free to download our hugely useful HSK Infographic. This gives further information on the HSK Exam, the lengths of the exams and what exactly is included in each test.
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