Chinese Proficiency
December 11, 2013
HSK Results
December 16, 2013

HSK Character List

China's Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, aka HSK, is standardized, which means something important for test takers: Each level of the HSK has a specific HSK character list. This Chinese language proficiency test is (as we've found through our research and teaching of test-taking skills specific to the HSK) mainly testing your vocabulary use and knowledge. You could even say that the test creators equate Chinese proficiency to knowledge of the HSK character list. Thus, holding an HSK test certificate basically says that you've memorized most of the vocabulary in an HSK character list for a certain level.

Information about the HSK Character List

A objective of any programs helping students study the HSK is to help students organize and internalize the vocabulary on the HSK vocabulary list. But to many students, this is a huge challenge that requires rigorous memorization similаr to the study methodologies of many east Asian countries. Though the creators of the HSK offer the HSK character list to the public free-of-charge, they don't teach students how they should develop habits οf mind to memorize these vocabulary. Just going through the list, one word at a time, will take you ages to master the HSK vocabulary list. Though Hanban only offers one list, which is in alphabetical order according to Pinyin, how you use this list can influence hοw rapidly you memorize the words on the HSK character list. If you plan to take several levels of the HSK over the next few years, how you use the HSK character list for your level will affect how well you do on the HSK exam.


Learning from the HSK Character List Alphabetically

Imagine that you are preparing for the HSK via online HSK character lists. You might use a smartphone app, such as the one in the picture. Notice anything? These Chinese exam guides are all arranged alphabetically. When Chinese vocabulary is provided to students planning to take the HSK, it's almost always provided in this alphabetical order, mainly because that's how the HSK test creators release their lists. But if you were to study the vocabulary in the HSK character list in this picture, you would be memorizing a bunch of "b" words. Wouldn't that get confusing? Wouldn't some words trickle down and others trickƖe up in your head at the wrong time? And what about when you get to the "shi" section of the vocabulary. Can you imagine memorizing hundreds of words that start with "shi?"


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For students who want a better way to memorize the HSK character list, try memorizing by category, not by alphabetical order. For example, memorize the important words for the classroom one week, move onto important words about money the next week, and learn time words the following week. Continuing this process, you will advance in a natural method that not only makes your brain more likely to store the words from the HSK vocabulary list but also to link them to one another, making them easier to use and recall. Where can you get such an HSK character list? From our study guides, of course! Download one of our study guides for a well-organized (organized by category) HSK character list.


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

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