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HSK Exam

HSK Test

The exam is split up into 2 or 3 sections: listening comprehension, reading comprehension and writing. For Levels 1 and 2, you will only be assessed on the listening and reading comprehensions. The order of the sections is always the same. To prepare HSK Exam, it is essential to not skip any section.

Level Content Dura-tion           (min) Points
Listening comprehension Reading comprehension Writing
Number of exercises Number of questions Number of exercises Number of questions Number of exercises Number of questions
1 4 20 4 20 NO NO 35 200
2 4 35 4 25 NO NO 60 200
3 4 40 3 30 2 10 85 300
4 3 45 3 40 2 15 100 300
5 2 45 3 45 2 10 120 300
6 3 50 4 50 1 1 135 300

Even though a computer version is currently being developed, the exam format usually remains as a hard copy. Documents and material (a booklet with texts and pictures) will be handed out to each candidate. Professionals will play the recordings and the answers must be written on the answer sheets provided.

Comment: If you can choose between the paper and computer versions of the HSK test, we recommend that you select the second one. Indeed, in the writing part, you will be typing on a Pinyin Keyboard and select the characters based on choices (i.e. you don’t have to remember all the characters by heart). This might help you save time. This way, the online version can be much easier, especially for HSK 5 and 6 where the writing part is longer.

Discover our tips to get more marks during the exam.

Test my level for free

Prepare HSK Test – Timing

The HSK exam is rather short compared to other language tests. It lasts between 35 minutes (Level 1) and 2h15min (Level 6). After the first part of the exam — reading comprehension –, you will have 3 minutes (for Levels 1 and 2) and 5 minutes (for Level 3 to 6) to write down your answers on the answer sheet.

HSK Exam – Score

Each section is graded on 100 points.

For Levels 1 and 2, you will be marked out of 200 points:

  • Listening comprehension section = 100 points
  • Reading comprehension section = 100 points

You will get your certificate if you reach the average grade of 120 points out of 200.

For Levels 3 to 6, you will be marked out of 300 points:

  • Listening comprehension section = 100 points
  • Reading comprehension section = 100 points
  • Writing section = 100 points

You will get your certificate if you reach the average grade of 180 points out of 300.

Types of questions

Many exercises have the same instructions from one HSK level to the other. As you progress towards HSK 6, the sentences become longer, the grammar is more complex and the vocabulary is more diverse. It is then more and more crucial to prepare HSK exam with the right tools.

Note that an example is provided to help you in each exercise, on all the different HSK levels.

Order of the answers

In the listening and reading comprehension sections, you can complete the exercises in whichever order you like.

HSK Vocabulary

For each HSK level, you need to master a particular amount of Chinese characters. To prepare HSK exam is also to learn an outstanding number of characters. These characters are listed in an official list that you can download for free on Global-Exam’s website.

Tip: Hanban, the council in charge of the HSK, provides you with a translation of the 1,200 first characters (Levels 1 to 4), in English and with examples: free download []

HSK Training

Unlike other exams such as the TOEFL, the HSK is a relatively new exam and it has only started spreading across Europe for a few years. There are very few services offering preparation programmes.

The HSK’s official website, despite looking rather stark, offers a wealth of information. You really should spend a few hours browsing it.

It is also possible to find HSK training books. These are not available everywhere since the exam is not very well-known yet; it is best to go to specialised bookshops.

Lastly, some language institutes and private teachers can offer HSK training. Make sure they prepare specifically for the HSK as the Mandarin exam requires specific skills and therefore specific training.

Whatever material you decide to use, Global-Exam’s teaching team is giving you its 3 strategies to optimise your exam preparation.

HSK Free Test

Global-Exam is an online platform designed specifically to prepare for the HSK and to help you improve your marks in the exam. To let you discover the quality of our training exercises before paying your registration fees, we offer free exercises — the equivalent of a full mock exam) for each level. To benefit from our free HSK offer, nothing could more simple: you just have to create an account with your name, last name and email address. That’s all!

After signing up, you will have access to the entire database of HSK tests:

  • 20 tests HSK 1
  • 20 tests HSK 2
  • 20 tests HSK 3
  • 20 tests HSK 4
  • 20 tests HSK 5
  • 20 tests HSK 6

With our HSK online trainings, you can evaluate yourself on several levels without paying again. We also provide you several tips and key point to rememeber, to get on point for your HSK exam.