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The Overall HSKK Guide

If you are studying Chinese, you may have heard of the HSK, but what do you know about the HSKK exam? If you are not familiar with the HSKK, here is everything you need to know about the exam,  including levels, test dates and fees, how to register for the exam, and how best to study for the HSKK if you do want to take it.

First of all, what is the HSKK?

The HSKK stands for “Hànyǔ shuǐpíng kǒuyǔ kǎoshì (汉语水平口语考试)”, which means “Oral Chinese Level Test”. This exam is a standardized test that evaluates students’ spoken Chinese level. The HSKK is divided into three levels (beginner, intermediate, and advanced).

This is different from the regular HSK exam, which is the “Hànyǔ shuǐpíng kǎoshì (汉语水平考试)”. The regular HSK exam is a written exam divided into six levels, with HSK 1 being the lowest and HSK 6 the highest.

Note: While both exams are organized by the Hanban, the HSKK is a not just the “speaking section” of the HSK. The HSKK is a separate exam, and you will need to register for it separately if you want to take it. You do not need to take the HSK in order to take the HSKK.

Why should I take the HSKK?

If you are applying to a Chinese university or a job that requires you to speak Mandarin often, having an HSKK certificate will set your application apart from the rest. Some universities and workplaces may even require foreign candidates to hold an HSKK certification, in addition to the HSK.

Even if you are not applying for a university or job, you may want to take the HSKK just to measure your progress. Sometimes it is not always easy to see how far your own Chinese has progressed, and the HSKK can be a useful tool to measure how much progress you have made in your studies.

HSKK Exam Levels and Content

HSKK Beginner

The Beginner HSKK exam is 17 minutes long. There are 27 questions in total, making up three sections of the exam.

Section 1 is four minutes long and comprised of 15 questions, in which you must listen to a recording and repeat the sentence back (听后重复).

Section 2 is three minutes long and comprised of 10 questions, in which you must listen to a question and respond appropriately (听后回答).

Section 3 is three minutes long and consists of two open-ended response questions (回答问题). Students must answer both questions with at least five sentences for each answer.

Chinese characters are not required.

HSKK Intermediate

The Intermediate level is 21 minutes long (this includes 10 minutes of preparation time). There are 14 questions in total, making up three sections of the exam.

Section 1 is three minutes long and comprised of four questions, in which you listen to a recording and repeat it back (听后重复).

Section 2 is four minutes long and comprised of two questions, in which you describe an image (看图说话).

Section 3 is four minutes long and consists of two open-ended response questions (回答问题).

Again, Chinese characters are not required.

HSKK Advanced

The Advanced level takes 24 minutes (this again includes 10 minutes of preparation time) and is broken into three sections.

Section 1 is seven minutes long and consists of three questions in which you listen to a recording and repeat it back (听后重复).

Section 2 is two minutes long and consists of reading a single passage aloud (朗读).

Section 3 is five minutes long and consists of two open-ended response questions (回答问题).

What HSKK level should I take?

According to the Hanban, the Beginner HSKK is suitable for students who know around 200 common words and who can hold basic conversations on a variety of daily topics. This level is suitable for HSK 1 and HSK 2 students.

The Intermediate HSKK is suitable for students who know approximately 900 common words and who can speak quiet fluently on a range of topics. This level is suitable for HSK 3 and HSK 4 students.

Finally, the Advanced HSKK is suitable for students who know over 3000 words and who can express themselves fluently in spoken Chinese on most topics. As part of the Advanced HSKK involves reading a passage aloud, the Hanban suggests that Advanced HSKK students should know about 1000 characters. This level is suitable for HSK 5 and HSK 6 students.

HSKK Test Dates and Fees

The HSKK is available in very limited locations on 16 October 2022 and 4 December 2022 (both test dates are Sundays). For paper-based tests, registration closes a month before the test date. For internet-based tests, registration closes ten days before the test date.

Fees for the HSKK depend on the level you wish to take.

  • The Beginner HSKK costs 200RMB.
  • The Intermediate HSKK costs 400RMB.
  • The Advanced HSKK costs 600RMB.

How to Register for the HSKK

Visit the Hanban website and create an account. Log in and select “HSKK (HSK Speaking Tests)” from the Registration menu.

Select your level, test location, and date from the form. Next, fill out your personal information. You will need to confirm your phone number with a code via text message. Upload a photo of yourself for identification purposes. Then, pay for the exam.

HSKK Passing Score

All HSKK exams are graded out of 100 points, with a passing score of at least 60. Students will receive their HSKK results approximately one month after the exam.

HSKK Exam Results

HSKK results are released one month after your test date. While technically your results never expire, if you are using your HSKK for university admission, your HSKK results are valid for two years after your exam date.

How to prepare for the HSKK

The best way to prepare for the HSKK exam is lots of practice. The more listening practice you can get, the better you will perform on the test. Whether you watch Chinese television, chat with friends, or do mock HSKK exams, the more you listen to Chinese, the easier the HSKK exam will be.

Besides being good for listening practice, mock exams are also a useful tool for familiarizing yourself with the HSKK question formats. The more you know about what type of questions to expect on the HSKK, the easier the test will be. You can access mock exam materials for your level:

Another measure you can take is to memorize several grammar structures appropriate for your level, such as 因为…所以 (because… so), 首先…其次…最后… (first…next…last), or 只要…就 (as long as…then). This will help you to organize your thoughts in a logical way and express yourself clearly during the exam.

Finally, consider signing up for formal HSKK lessons with a teacher who is familiar with the exam. In formal HSKK prep classes, you will be able to practice mock HSKK exams with your teacher, who can give you feedback on the areas in which you need to improve. This will save you time by allowing you to focus more on the questions or content with which you struggle, while putting less emphasis on the material you have already mastered.

Conclusion

If you decide that taking the HSKK exam is something you want to do, make sure you do it right! First, find the most suitable HSKK level for you, pick a date and register well in advance, and then practice, practice, practice. Now that you know everything there is to know about the HSKK, we wish you the best of luck in your exam. Jiāyóu 加油!

Eden Lunde

Eden is a language and culture enthusiast who has been learning Chinese for 15 years and has spent six years in China. She speaks both Chinese and Spanish fluently. She is co-owner of Culture Yard, an online Chinese language school based in Beijing.

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