Nowadays, communication is mostly done via tablets, smartphones, computers, etc. and handwriting, in general, is no longer a very common practice as it used to be. Since the introduction of the Pinyin system in China, handwriting has become less common for daily life activities and communication. So why do you need to take an HSK exam and why it’s necessary?
For those who are learning Chinese and are wondering if it’s still necessary to use handwriting to obtain your HSK exam, we’d like to clarify the possibilities. Even if you cannot write the Chinese characters yourself as long as you can recognize them, yes, it is still possible to successfully obtain your HSK1, HSK2, HSK3, and HSK4 certificate.
Ways You Can Take Your HSK Exam
There are 2 ways to take HSK 4 (and HSK 1, HSK 2 and HSK 3):
- Pick the computer-based HSK exam. This requires you to type in the Chinese characters via the computer keyboard. Since this is the way you are used to writing the characters, this is the best option for you.
- Take the HSK exam that requires handwriting. Out of those 4 HSK exam levels, HSK 4 is the most challenging.
HSK exams start with a writing section. In this section, you will need to re-arrange sentences. This means that the Chinese characters are already there. But if you can draw strokes, you can finish the exam with little writing ability.
Lastly, will encounter 5 questions that require you to write the Chinese character based on a picture. If this one is difficult for you, we recommend to practice current exams and learn to write those characters. For you to pass this exam, you have to be able to write around a set of 100 characters. If you’re good at HSK 4, you might want to consider skipping the last 5 writing questions.
The maximum score for the HSK 4 exam is 300 with a passing score of 180. The last writing sections account for 100 points each.
To obtain HSK 5 and HSK 6 certificates, you have to learn handwriting Hanzi as the extra tasks might be too difficult for you without handwriting ability.
4 Commonly Asked Questions about the HSK Exam
HSK exams can be generally taken in two ways; in person or online.
Here are 5 commonly asked questions about the HSK exam to help you prepare:
- Where Can I Find Out the HSK Exam Dates?
To keep updated on the exam schedules, you can visit the official website for the HSK exam dates. You can find a link on the homepage that leads to the test dates of the year. You can also check out the exam results at the official website.
- How Can I Obtain My HSK Exam Certificate?
While the official HSK exam website doesn’t mention anything about receiving the physical HSK certificate, just contact your test center where you took your HSK test if you have inquiries. They will help you with everything related to HSK exams.
If you look over the website, you’ll see that the test results are announced about a month after you take the test. Be patient for your certificate to arrive.
- What’s the Difference Between the Old and the New HSK?
If I have to sum it up, I’d say that the new HSK is easier than the old HSK!
This is because the old HSK test was often criticized for using too many esoteric words and for being impractical. As for the new test, it’s major focus on practicality and contains less uncommon words.
Why the new HSK test is easier than the old one? It’s because new test formats have been introduced, grading system re-designed, and
New test formats have been introduced, the grading system re-designed, and writing has a much heavier weighting in the new test.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the new HSK test also spans smaller vocabulary lists than the old HSK. Compare the equivalent grades of Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced levels of the old HSK at 3000, 5000, and 8000 words to Levels 4, 5, 6 of the new HSK at 1200, 2500, and 5000 words.
- Where is the HSK Certificate Applicable?
The HSK test certificate is frequently used in an academic context if you want to apply to Chinese universities. The Chinese level required of you in a Chinese university is usually higher than HSK Level 6), but you’ll have to check with each university to see.
For Fudan University in Shanghai, they require a level 6 for various degrees. For high school exams such as SAT, IB, A-levels, a level 5 is required.
If you’re taking the HSK exam for employment purposes, please don’t expect employers to know the HSK test is. The truth is, most haven’t even heard of it. However, taking the HSK exam will be a good testament to your Chinese proficiency and you can always explain to your employers what it is if they aren’t familiar.