Like any exam, there are ways to do better at the HSK simply by understanding how the test works. Let Gloria Hao, certified HSK examiner and LTL’s Director of Study tell you her favourite exam tricks for the HSK exam.
1 – HSK Levels 1 & 2
You have to listen to several sentences in Mandarin either from a tape or laptop. For each sentence you need to choose the right answer of the three possible solutions. Only one is correct so don’t mark multiple answers as you will not receive any marks.
2 – HSK Levels 3, 4, 5, and 6
At the beginning of this part you will hear on the tape music and a general introduction of the HSK exam before you can start the exam. During this time do not wait and do nothing. Start to gain an overview of the test, the questions and how they are organized.
3 – HSK 3
Fill in the blank. Even if you don’t know the answer, write something because even if it is wrong you may still be eligible for some marks. If you don’t write anything at all, you won’t be eligible for any marks.
4 – HSK 4
There is a picture with a word and you have to describe the picture with this word. There is no need to write complex sentences as simple sentences of 10 Hanzi are ok.
It is easier to make mistakes with complex sentence structures rather than with a simple one.
So do not take the risk to lose marks on something you could easily avoid except if you are 100% sure your sentence is correct.
5 – HSK 3, 4, 5, and 6
In one of the exercises there are many words randomly placed and you have to put those words in the right order to make the correct sentence. You should pay attention to the structure of Chinese sentences which is: Subject+adverb+preposition+object+verb+object.
Grammar is very important to know for this exercise e.g. 把 and 被 sentences often show up in this exercise.
6 – HSK 5 & 6
You will have to write an 80 or 400 words text, depending on your level. Do not go above or below by more than about 15 characters as you will lose marks.
7 – HSK 3, 4, 5, and 6
Do not waste time reading the entire text word by word. Read the question(s) in the first place, find the keywords and go back to the text. With these keywords you can easily find the sentence or paragraph you need to answer to the question(s).
8 – HSK 4, 5, and 6
You have to read a text and then answer five questions each with 4 choices. Questions are asked in the same order of the text, for the first question you have to refer to the first paragraph, for the second question to the second paragraph…etc. Do not waste time reading the text from the very beginning for each question.
9 – HSK 4, 5, and 6
One of the questions is to explain the main content of a text; answers generally are in the first and the last paragraph. You will find less relevant information in the paragraphs in between.
10 – HSK 5 & 6
In the first exercise you have to fill in the blank. There are several choices so you have to carefully choose the right words by paying attention to the structure of the sentence. E.g. if there is no verb in the sentence choose from the verb list which one could fit and eliminate the adverbs and nouns. You simply have to eliminate the useless words and keep those which could fit.
For more information about the HSK exam, prices and dates visit our page.
Gloria Hao is from Harbin graduated with a Bachelor in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language from Harbin Normal University and taught Chinese for eight years before joining LTL as Director of Studies in 2012. She is in charge of course planning, class planning and teacher management at LTL and has a special interest in the HSK exam. As a certified HSK examiner, she organizes all HSK preparation courses at LTL and supervises the HSK exams at the LTL HSK test center in Beijing.
Summarized and edited Marine Colliot (French Version) and Thomas Home.
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