10 Things You Need to Know Before Taking HSK Exams

1. Do I need to learn Chinese characters to pass the HSK?

There are 6 levels of HSK tests. For level one and two, everything is marked with Pinyin, therefore, you don’t need to know Chinese characters. For the rest ones, sorry, yes!

2. How much do HSK tests cost?

The registration fee for HSK differs based on where you take it and which level you want to take. In Mainland China, HSK Level one is 150RMB. Each level after that costs 100RMB more than the last. Unfortunately, the higher your level is, the more expensive, eh?

3. Can I take it whenever I want?

You wish. Nope. Test frequencies and dates vary in countries. In Mainland China, there are 12 test opportunities all year round, which means once in a month. They usually fall on Sundays and all levels are open.

4. Can I take it wherever I want? 

Aha, you are thinking way too much. You have to take it at specific test centers. The good news is there are test centers in all the continents except the Antarctica. Sorry, Antarctica :(.

5. Are there any internet-based HSK tests???!! Can I take them at Home? 

Yes, there are internet-based tests and paper-based tests. The only difference is for the internet based tests, you can type in characters, but for paper based test, you need to write everything by hand. This why you still need to go to a test center, sorry that there is no such connivence. 

6. How well do I need to speak to pass it? 

Good question!  There is NO speaking requirements in the HSK! Most people do not know there the is HSKK, specifically made for spoken Chinese, which consists of three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. We recommend it if you'd like to prove your speaking ability. 

7. Which level of HSK do you suggest I participate in?

We don’t usually suggest our students to take HSK 1 and 2, because there are usually way too simple. You can probably pass HSK 1 after studying only one week of classes with us.

HSK 3 is a good start, since you need to master a good amount of vocabulary and grammars  

8. If I start preparing 2 months ahead, will I be ready? 

We don't suggest studying just for sake of the test. Instead we suggest that you study comprehensive Chinese, and when your level is almost there (which your teachers should be able to tell you), start a HSK prep course to familiarize yourself with the test. 

9. Is there a photo of me on the certificate? 

Yes, the same one as the one you submit when you register. So remember to give your best-looking one :)

10. When do I get my score? 

You will get to know your score in 3 weeks after you take the test. It is not a pass fail test. You have to get 180 points to pass, but your score is also shown on the certificate. Motivated now? 


Wang Rong (Emily) is a cofounder of GoEast and writes columns for the GoEast Blog on Chinese language learning, Chinese culture, and life in China as a language specialist. She holds a BA degree in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language and a MA in Comparative Literature. She has been teaching Chinese to foreigners since 2007 as a tutor and a professor in Universities.