A Comprehensive HSK Guide for Newbies
May 1, 2012
What happens if I fail the HSK?
May 11, 2012

A Step-By-Step Guide for HSK Test Takers

How to Pass the HSK


If you’re here, I am assuming you are ready to take the HSK. If you’re not ready, or don’t know what I am talking about, click here.

Okay, so let’s go through the steps. In short, this is a 7-part process:
  1. Decide on the level of the test.study hsk
  2. Decide on whether you want to take the speaking test.
  3. Get together a study plan.
  4. Study.
  5. Take practice tests.
  6. Register for the exam.
  7. Take the exam!


Decide on the Level of the Test

This is mostly a personal decision. Of course, you shouldn’t be biting off more than you can chew. For the most part, most test takers are going to want to target one of the following levels:
  • Level 1
  • Level 3
  • Level 5
  • Level 6

Levels 1, 3, and 5 are self-explanatory: They give you the certificates in the “elementary,” “intermediate,” and “advanced,” respectively. Levels 2 and 4 don’t get you anything different than 1 or 3, except for a “with honors” statement added onto the certificate.

Level 6 is the highest level. This level is probably the best for finding a professional job that requires proof that you are proficient in Chinese.

Regardless of your level, the following steps are all the same.


Decide on whether You will Take the Speaking Test

Technically, you don’t have to take the speaking test. In fact, many people don’t. However, the speaking test really does look useful, right? It proves that you have more than just an input-type understanding of Chinese. It proves that you can produce Chinese.

One reason to not take the speaking is a lack of time. If you have a reason to take the HSK test before a certain date and are afraid that adding speaking study to your plan may cause you to perform less well on the main HSK, then you may consider doing the speaking test at a later date. Nevertheless, it’s not a good idea to let your speaking ability fall behind the other abilities.


Make a Study Plan

This is an important step. Don’t just wing it! Make a real study plan.

A study plan includes the 5Ws and 1H:

  • Who will you study with? Do you study better alone, or do you want to practice speaking and listening with others?
  • What materials will you use? We recommend these study guides.
  • Where will you study? What atmosphere helps you concentrate?
  • When will you study? Make a schedule and stick to it! If you are serious about passing the HSK, study at least every day!
  • Why are you studying? This is important–have the goal in mind! This is about motivation.
  • How will you study? What methods will you use? Our study guides will lay out the best methods for you.

The schedule is perhaps the most important part. You should be both making certain targets to hit as well as hitting those targets on time. Make it reasonable.

Follow the study guide for a plan.



This is both the easiest and the hardest part. If you follow a plan, you will make stable progress. But the actual learning of the material is something you’ve got to put your heart into.

You’ve finished this part when you’ve got down most of the material that will be tested on the HSK. But you’re not done yet…


Take Practice Tests

Just because you know the material doesn’t mean you will perform well on the HSK. You need to practice to familiarize yourself with the test. One big part of the HSK is testing skills. Another big part is knowing the nuances that the HSK tests you on.

Frequent taking of practice tests is really the only way to both prepare well for the HSK and gain the confidence for when you take the real HSK.


Register for the Exam

When you are finally ready to take the exam, register. Some students register prior to being ready, for a variety of reasons. Some like the pressure the impending test date gives them. Regardless of when you register, you have to register before you take the HSK.

The HSK is offered a large number of countries, including China, of course. Check the official site for information on how to register and where to take the test.


Take the Test

If you made it this far, good luck!
Quinn Cash
Quinn Cash
Quinn Cash is a contributor to HSK Tests Online and a Chinese/English translator.


  1. news says:

    Just to let you know your web page appears a little bit different in Safari on my pc using Linux .

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