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What is HSK 3.0, changes compared to existing HSK test format , tips to prepare for this exam? – learn Chinese

HSK3.0 vs current HSK exam format

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
― Nelson Mandela

Let us assume, you know the Chinese language.  If I ask you what level of proficiency you are in, can you answer me?  Hence learning a language is related to which proficiency level you are in? HSK Chinese language proficiency test gives you the certificate of your proficiency level.  In this article, we would learn about the HSK tests, different levels of proficiency, registering for an exam, some important references to achieve success in this examination. 
The Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK; Chinese: 汉语水平考试; pinyin: Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì), translated as the Chinese Proficiency Test, is the standardized test of Standard Chinese (a type of Mandarin Chinese) language proficiency of China for non-native speakers such as foreign students and overseas Chinese.
Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK), an international standardized test of Chinese language proficiency, assesses non-native Chinese speakers’ abilities in using the Chinese language in their daily, academic, and professional lives. HSK scores are recognized by the Chinese Ministry of Education. It is a pre-requisite for studying in China and applying for scholarships.  HSK consists of six levels, namely HSK (level I), HSK (level II), HSK (level III), HSK (level IV), HSK (level V), and HSK (level VI). In HSK 3.0 in 2020, these levels changed from six levels of HSK to 9 levels of HSK.  As per HSK official, owing to the COVID pandemic situation, online home testing also been considered. further details of this test would be shared in consequent articles. 
The test is administered by the Hanban, an agency of the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China.
HSK test can be similar to TOEFL and an HSK certificate is valid globally. Success in this test and its certificate of language efficiency for higher education and professional purposes.  For example, a job description might ask foreign applicants withHSK5 or better.
The structure of the HSK test varies depending on different levels:
HSK 1 and HSK 2 
  • HSK1 and HSK 2 only contain listening and reading.
  • HSK1 consists of 20 questions on listening ( true or false & MCQs ) and 20 MCQs in reading comprehension.
  • In this test, all characters are provided with PinYin

HSK3 to HSK6

  • These levels require students to demonstrate a good command of the Chinese language
  • HSK3 to HSK6 consist of listening, reading, and writing
  • Characters are provided in simplified Chinese characters without PinYin
Information about HSK 3.0 

In May’20, HSK official has announced that there will be reform in the HSK tests. As per the new changes, a hybrid paradigm of ” Three stages and Nine levels” characterized by integration 

HSK levels, words, and characters one would learn and language level one can achieve as below in the existing format and the new format 

HSK Existing and HSK3.0 comparison

How to register for HSK Exam?  Open the website – http://www.chinesetest.cn/ Register yourself and login to

your account. Once logged in, you can register, enrolling, and also more details about the HSK and related Chinese language proficiency tests.  If you want to be familiar with question types of HSK test, you can also find on this website. 

How to prepare for the HSK exam?  If someone is really passionate to learn the Chinese language and prepare for the HSK examination, I would give some tips for effective preparation and achieving success in the exam.

  1. Choosing the right HSK level is important. One should choose HSK level 1 if you are a beginner. This level vocabulary gives necessary words and characters which are building blocks to next level HSK tests.
  2. First of all understand the PinYin concept and how the Chinese words can be represented by English alphabets, which are generally called PinYin
  3. Try to learn the phonics of each of the PinYin alphabets and its tones.
  4. Learn the basics of Chinese tones and try practicing the words with various tones loudly, so that you can listen to your own pronunciation.
  5. Download PLECO app which will help a lot while preparation,
  6. For HSK level 1, there are 150 words. Try to understand each word, its pinyin, pronunciation, and type the Pinyin to get the Chinese character as shown in the below video.

 If you practice each word as the above procedure, you will learn the word, its Pinyin, its pronunciation and most importantly you can also remember its Chinese character. 8. Practice each work, revise the words frequently, practice typing each word, try to identify each word.  Once you are confident of each book helpful for the preparation of  HSK tests which I used for my preparation while I started my journey of learning Chinese in 2015

For HSK level 1 – HSK Standard Course 1 – Textbook

HSK Level 1 preparation book
HSK Level 1 preparation book

Hsk 1-6 Full Vocabulary Guide: All 5000 Hsk Vocabularies With Pinyin and Translation

HSK 1 to 6 vocabulary
HSK 1 to 6 vocabulary

Test Yourself HSK 1-2 Standard Course Flashcards: Chinese proficiency mock test level 1-2 workbook

Test yourself HSK 1 - 2
Test yourself HSK 1 – 2


Just to wrap up before closing this article, I hope you learned the existing HSK test format, New format which is going to get implemented in the future. It is not hard to crack the HSK examination if you are systematically learning the vocabulary, applying to sentences, involve in real-time discussions with your native Chinese friends, make your own flashcards and revise the new words frequently. I hope this article is useful to you. Please do contact me if any further clarification or guidance on it. 

The below weblinks one can download the HSK test papers

  You can also email me to murali (at) murali (dot) today for connecting me personally.

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