The language of Chinese soft power in the US
October 11, 2014

Best HSK Book

Best HSK Book – HSK Book Reviews

Many HSK books on the market are marketed as magic pills. Others are actually informative and useful. Here, I will help you discover which are which.
Many of these books are good resources for the HSK student. But, know that no matter the book, the real magic pill is actually using the book: getting down and dirty to practice the material. Repeated practice and hard work are the true keys to getting the score you want on the HSK.
So, again the question arises: what books and resources are the best for the HSK? Read the following book reviews to find the HSK book that is most suitable for your goals.
I’ve organized the following into “general” and levels (e.g., HSK 1). Of course, as the owner of HSK Tests Online, I’m going to point out right now our own HSK study guides are the most recommended HSK study materials, because I really do recommend them. They are the only true comprehensive guides to each level of the HSK.

The “General” HSK Book List:

The New HSK Vocabulary Levels 1-6

o Authenticity of material: A – exactly all the vocab for each level
o Amount of material: B – definitions too simple
o Quality of explanations: C – lots of mistakes in both English and Pinyin
o Skill building material: A – vocab is necessary for passing any level
o Style: B – basic, but also includes traditional characters
Basic Patterns of Chinese Grammar: A Student’s Guide to Correct Structures and Common Errors

o Authenticity of practice material: A+
o Amount of practice material: A
o Quality of explanations: F
o Skill building material: None
o Test strategy and advice: None

Basic Patterns of Chinese Grammar: A Student’s Guide to Correct Structures and Common Errors

o Authenticity of material: B – covers much, but not all of the HSK grammar
o Amount of practice material: A – pretty much all the grammar you need to get started with Chinese
o Quality of explanations: F – I greatly dislike the way they explain things; I know much better ways of explaining the same concepts
o Skill building material: A – grammar is essential for passing the HSK
o Test strategy and advice: F – isn’t focused on the HSK
Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters: A Revolutionary New Way to Learn and Remember the 800 Most Basic Chinese Characters

o Usefulness of material: B – a good method for learning Chinese characters
o Amount of material: A – they couldn’t list all of the characters, but there’s enough in here to let you become independent in learning characters
o Quality of explanations: C – not exactly the best writer, but the explanations are there
o Skill building material: A – essential for anyone who wants to improve they way he learns Chinese
o Strategy and advice: A – a unique approach to learning Chinese characters

 

The HSK 1 Book List:

Chinese Flash Cards Kit Volume 1: Characters 1-349: HSK Elementary Level (Audio CD Included)
o
o Authenticity of practice material: C – outdated and still useful but covers both levels 1 and 2 without differentiating
o Amount of practice material: A – vocab books can’t go wrong here
o Skill building material: B – completely depends on how you use them
o Style: B – handwritten characters and holes for easy organization

Stimulated Tests of the New Chinese Proficiency Test HSK (HSK Level 1) (Discs Included) (Chinese Edition)

o Authenticity of practice material: B – pretty close to the real thing
o Amount of practice material: A – this is the exact type of practice material you should be using
o Quality of explanations: B – answer key does its job
o Skill building material: B – helps you practice Chinese and test-taking

 

The HSK 2 Book List:

o Stimulated Tests of the New Chinese Proficiency Test HSK (HSK Level 2) (Discs Included) (Chinese Edition)
o
o Authenticity of practice material: B – pretty close to the real thing
o Amount of practice material: A – this is the exact type of practice material you should be using
o Quality of explanations: B – answer key does its job
o Skill building material: B – helps you practice Chinese and test-taking
Essentials of HSK: Reading, Elementary & Intermedidate

o Authenticity of practice material: C – mostly outdated, but still useful
o Amount of practice material: D – nothing you couldn’t find online
o Quality of explanations: B – a good introduction to HSK-reading skills
o Skill building material: B – reading fast and grabbing onto the main points is essential to passing the HSK
o Test strategy and advice: D – somewhat robotic in its teaching methods and doesn’t always apply to the new HSK

The HSK 3 Book List:

Stimulated Tests of the New Chinese Proficiency Test HSK (HSK Level 3) (Discs Included) (Chinese Edition)

o Authenticity of practice material: B – pretty close to the real thing
o Amount of practice material: A – this is the exact type of practice material you should be using
o Quality of explanations: B – answer key does its job
o Skill building material: B – helps you practice Chinese and test-taking
Chinese Flash Cards Kit Volume 2: HSK Intermediate Level: Characters 350-622 (Audio CD Included)

o Authenticity of practice material: C – outdated and still useful but covers both levels 1 and 2 without differentiating
o Amount of practice material: A – vocab books can’t go wrong here
o Skill building material: B – completely depends on how you use them
o Style: B – handwritten characters and holes for easy organization

 

The HSK 4 Book List:

Stimulated Tests of the New Chinese Proficiency Test HSK (HSK Level 4) (Discs Included) (Chinese Edition)

o Authenticity of practice material: B – pretty close to the real thing
o Amount of practice material: A – this is the exact type of practice material you should be using
o Quality of explanations: B – answer key does its job
o Skill building material: B – helps you practice Chinese and test-taking
Level 4-New HSK Vocabulary (Chinese Edition)

o Authenticity of practice material: C – should have included frequency
o Amount of practice material: D – no real practical sections
o Quality of explanations: B – good enough, but the definitions could go into more depth
o Skill building material: B – you definitely need vocabulary to pass the HSK 4
o Test strategy and advice: D – no real advice

The HSK 5 Book List:

 

Chinese Flash Cards Kit Volume 3: HSK Upper Intermediate Level (Audio CD Included)

o Authenticity of practice material: C – outdated and still useful but covers both levels 1 and 2 without differentiating
o Amount of practice material: A – vocab books can’t go wrong here
o Skill building material: B – completely depends on how you use them
o Style: B – handwritten characters and holes for easy organization
Stimulated Tests of the New Chinese Proficiency Test HSK (HSK Level 5) (Discs Included) (Chinese Edition)

o Authenticity of practice material: B – pretty close to the real thing
o Amount of practice material: A – this is the exact type of practice material you should be using
o Quality of explanations: B – answer key does its job
o Skill building material: B – helps you practice Chinese and test-taking

 

New Chinese Proficiency Test HSK Guide: Reading (HSK Level 5) (Chinese) (Chinese Edition)

o Authenticity of practice material: A – exactly like the real test
o Amount of practice material: B – full of example papers but probably still not enough for someone preparing a few months ahead of the test
o Quality of explanations: A – gives good breakdowns of the readings
o Skill building material: A – scanning quickly is essential under the time-constraints of the HSK 5

 

The HSK 6 Book List:

Writing Guide to the New HSK Level 6 (Chinese Edition)

o Authenticity of practice material: C – topics seemingly uncommon
o Amount of practice material: D – not enough material on the sections that are the hardest
o Quality of explanations: C – some of the “templates” they give suck
o Skill building material: F – writing is important, but you’d be better off with a type of material that can give you feedback (like a tutor or writing service)
o Test strategy and advice: A – it’s at least right-on about the principles necessary for passing the writing section

 

Stimulated Tests of the New Chinese Proficiency Test HSK (HSK Level 6) (Discs Included) (Chinese Edition)

o Authenticity of practice material: B – pretty close to the real thing
o Amount of practice material: A – this is the exact type of practice material you should be using
o Quality of explanations: B – answer key does its job
o Skill building material: B – helps you practice Chinese and test-taking

 

More HSK Resources – Click Here!

 

Did I miss any important HSK books? Let me know, and I’ll add them to this section.
Good luck finding HSK book for you!

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Quinn Cash
Quinn Cash
Quinn Cash is a contributor to HSK Tests Online and a Chinese/English translator.

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