What Is the HSK Exam and Why You Should Take It

By Ilya Cheremnikh, January 21, 2021

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If you have been studying Chinese for a while, you probably have heard about the HSK exam. 

HSK stands for Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (literally ‘Chinese Level Test’) and it is the most commonly used internationally-accepted Chinese proficiency test. The test has been gaining in popularity in recent years and, according to government estimates, over eight million people take the HSK every year. 

The HSK has six different levels and each level is taken as a separate exam, with HSK 1 being the simplest and HSK 6 the most advanced. The exam tests reading, writing and listening skills, and can be taken in either written or computerized form in designated exam centers around China and worldwide. 

CTI, the company that designs the test, announced a new nine-level structure in 2020, however, there is no timeline for when it will be rolled out – so don’t let that be an excuse to procrastinate. As of press time, CTI’s official website only allows for test registration of levels one to six.

READ MORE: China to Reform Top Chinese Proficiency Test HSK

If you are not sure why you should take the HSK exam, here are four good reasons why you should:

Master the most useful Chinese vocabulary

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Image via Pixabay

The HSK exam is designed to evaluate your knowledge of the most commonly used Chinese vocabulary and grammar structures. Each of the six HSK levels comes with a vocabulary list that is suited for each level and increases in difficulty from level to level. 

By learning the most frequently used Chinese grammar and vocabulary, you will be able to learn Chinese faster, as the words and grammar that you learn are more likely to be used in everyday life and in written publications. 

Use the HSK to stay motivated 

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Image via Pixabay

Learning Chinese can be difficult and frustrating at times. Many Chinese language learners have moments when they feel that they are stuck and not making any progress.

In these situations, the HSK can be very useful. By setting the next HSK level as your learning goal, you will have a specific target to aim towards, which will help you stay motivated in your Chinese studies. 

Increase your chances of finding a job

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Image via Pixabay

Being able to prove your proficiency in Chinese will increase your chances of finding a job in China and abroad. Many international Chinese companies are recruiting foreigners to help with their international expansions. At the same time, many companies outside of China are interested in working with China, and are looking for help entering the Chinese market or working with Chinese consumers. 

The HSK exam serves as the proof you need to demonstrate that your Chinese is on a high enough level to be working in a Chinese language environment and with Chinese customers and partners. 

Study in a Chinese university 

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Image via Unsplash

There are many great study opportunities for international students in Chinese universities. The Chinese government is looking to make programs more internationally competitive and is offering generous scholarships for international students, including in some of the best universities.

Since most programs are taught in Chinese, you would need to be at a certain HSK level (usually HSK 5) to be accepted. 


If you are interested in studying for the HSK on a private basis or in a group, visit Culture Yard’s website to learn more.

[Cover image via Unsplash]

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