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The Frequently Asked Questions About the HSK
2004/12/28

1. What is the HSK?
The Chinese Proficiency Test, or Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK), is a standard examination specially designed for evaluating the proficiency level of the Chinese language of foreigners, overseas Chinese, and others whose first language is not Chinese.

2. What are the purposes of the HSK?
To test the Chinese language proficiency of the following people:
(1) Foreigners who apply for entering a college or university in China as an undergraduate or graduate student.
(2) Foreigners or overseas Chinese who have obtained the required Chinese proficiency and want to gain a HSK certificate.

3. What are the major teaching materials for the HSK?
(1) An Outline of Graded Standards and Categories of HSK, designed by the All China Association for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language and compiled by the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.
(2) An Outline of Vocabulary of HSK and Graded Categories of Chinese Characters, compiled by the Exam Department of the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.
(3) An Outline of HSK (Elementary and Intermediate), compiled by the Exam Department of the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.

4. How is the HSK organized?
The HSK is a 170-item, 145-minute exam divided into four sections: listening, sentence structure, reading comprehension and fill-in-the-blank.

5. How many categories and levels exist for the elementary and intermediate HSK?
The elementary and intermediate HSK includes eight levels:
Level 1: basic knowledge of the Chinese language, with mastery of a few words and sentences.
Level 2: basic Chinese, with an ability to express and comprehend simple sentences.
Level 3: elementary Chinese proficiency, which is the requirement for applying for a program in natural sciences of a college or university in China and can get you an "Elementary Level C" certificate.
Level 4: elementary (medium) Chinese proficiency, which can get you an "Elementary Level B" certificate.
Level 5: elementary (advanced) Chinese proficiency, which and can get you an "Elementary Level A" certificate.
Level 6: intermediate (basic) Chinese proficiency, which is the requirement for applying for a program in the arts of a college or university in China and can get you an "Intermediate Level C" certificate.
Level 7: intermediate (medium) Chinese proficiency, which can get you an "Intermediate Level B" certificate.
Level 8: intermediate (advanced) Chinese proficiency, which can get you an "Intermediate Level A" certificate.

1. When can I take the HSK?
The HSK is held in China three times a year:
(1) On the second Sunday of May.
(2) On the first Sunday of July.
(3) On the third Sunday of December.

2. Where is the HSK held?
In China, the May and December exams are taken at the HSK Center of Beijing Language and Culture University, while the second exam is taken in the following cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Dalian, Wuhan, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Kunming, Changchun, Jinan, and Harbin.

3. What are the registration procedures for the HSK?
(1) Registrants must provide two recent 30 mm x 40 mm photos (without headwear) and present photo identification such as a passport, ID card, or other certificate.
(2) Registration and test fees apply.
(3) Candidates living where there is no local test center can register by mail. Applications must be sent to the test center by registered mail at least one week before the registration deadline. Enclose a photocopy of your ID card, a brief self-introduction (including name, sex, nationality, and date of birth), a detailed address, two recent 30 mm x 40 mm photos (without headwear), and test and registration fees. Telephone registration is not available.
(4) Candidates will be given an exam permit and a copy of the HSK handbook. Candidates must report to the testing room at the time and place written on the exam permit. The permit becomes invalid after expiration. Candidates registered by correspondence should include postage for reply in the registration letter, so that the exam centers can mail an HSK handbook. The exam permit can be issued only when you report to the test venue.

4. How can I get the HSK certificate?
Test scores will be mailed to HSK centers by the sponsoring institution within two months of the test date. You can also pick up test scores directly at the sponsoring institution within three months. Those who achieve a score at or above Level 3 can obtain an HSK certificate.

5. What is the period of validity for the HSK certificate and score report?
The HSK certificate has permanent validity. The period of validity of the test score, as certification for foreign students to enter a college or university in China, is two years after the date of the test.

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