Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi

Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi

By Cåsbr

Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi

Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi translates literally to "Chinese Proficiency Test" in English, abbreviated as HSK.  It is The People's Republic of China's only standardized Chinese courses for non-native speakers. The HSK certificates are recognized in China and the world.

The history of Putonghua

In 1924, the educated speech of Beijing was chosen as the standard for the nation of China, the grammar and vocabulary of that standard was written down using Chinese characters.  Mandarin then became the official language of China and it was called "National Language'.

In 1950's the government of The People Public of China had standardized Chinese characters by the reduction in the total number of standardized Chinese characters to around 7,000 commonly used Chinese characters,  and by structural simplification of character forms, this gave birth to  Simplified Chinese.

The educated speech of Beijing (speaking) and the Simplified Chinese characters (reading and writing) form the modern standardized Mandarin in the name of Putonghua which means  'The Universal Language'.   It is the official language in The People's Republic of China with 1.4 billion speakers.


The history of Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK)

In 1992, the HSK was launched as the national standardized Chinese language test for foreigners.  The HSK is administered in Simplified Chinese. This is also called Old HSK, or HSK (1992) version.  The Old HSK aimed to be a certificate of Chinese language proficiency for higher educational and professional purposes as it approximated the English TOEFL model.

In 2007, China National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, also named Hanban, carried out a review for HSK, the office decided that, instead of referring to TOFEL, the HSK test should be approximated to the new language model of "The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment" , abbreviated as CEFR.  In 2010, the New HSK was launched, it is also called HSK (2010) version.

The HSK (2010)'s  emphasis is "comprehensive language and communication ability".  Most notable is the new syllabus, reformation of the ranking system, and use of new question structures.  The structure of  New HSK:

Level   Listening / Reading / Writing Test   Speaking Test   CEFR
1   HSK Test - 1 (Listening+Reading)       A1
2   HSK Test - 2 (Listening+Reading)   HSK Test - Speaking Basic   A2
3   HSK Test - 3 (Listening+Reading+Writing)       B1
4   HSK Test - 4 (Listening+Reading+Writing)   HSK Test - Speaking Standard   B2
5   HSK Test - 5 (Listening+Reading+Writing)       C1
6   HSK Test - 6 (Listening+Reading+Writing)   HSK Test - Speaking Advanced   C2

Tabel-1 New HSK structure

From the table-1, we can see that only level 2, 4 and 6 have speaking tests, they are Basic, Standard and Advanced respectively. and only level 3, 4, 5, 6 have writing tests.  (You might hear that "Most notable is the inclusion of spoken and written segments at all levels", this is not necessarily true!)


The language framework of reference for HSK

HSK.HK Vocabulary (cumulative) Description CEFR

Level 6


(Advanced with Honors)

Characters: 2,633
 Words: 5,000
Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations. C2

Level 5



Characters: 1,709
 Words: 2,500
Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices. C1

Level 4


(Intermediate with Honors)

Characters: 1,071
 Words: 1,200
Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options. B2

Level 3



Characters: 623
 Words: 600
Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. B1

Level 2


(Elementary with Honors)

Characters: 349
 Words: 300
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need. A2

Level 1



Characters: 178
 Words: 150
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help. A1

Table-2: HSK.HK Model


The HSK certificates are recognized in China and the world.  Whether you’re complete beginner, or advanced learner, our HSK Hong Kong courses will take your Chinese language to next level.


Should you have any queries about HSK, please feel free to use the Contact US form to contact us;

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