How Hard is the HSK?
If you have not taken the HSK, it’s pretty hard to understand what it represents. It is one of the most demanding language tests there is, and is not something to be laughed at.
What is funny are terms like ‘advanced Chinese’ to describe University classes (especially ones not in China) that barely prepare you to test at the very bottom of the Intermediate version of the HSK.
10 Semesters of Chinese = What Level in the HSK?
To figure out just how hard the HSK is, let’s take a look at the story of two people: myself and a classmate.
We both started out in the same Chinese 101 course. After two semesters, we went to a intensive summer program in Shanghai that counted as two “semesters” back home, then took two more years of Chinese before coming to China.
While teaching English “full time”, we both took another two semesters of Chinese.
In all, we had studied four years and ten semesters worth of Chinese. How do you think we did on the HSK?
Intermediate HSK Test… Is it Really Intermediate?
There was no chance we would score on the advanced portion of the HSK, so we both signed up for the intermediate portion. You can score anywhere from a three to an eight on this portion of the test, a four representing the minimum qualification to study a limited number of majors at a Chinese university, and a six allowing you to study any subject as an undergraduate.
She scored a four, and I scored a high six. So four years of Chinese study yielded the following two results:
Lower Intermediate / Intermediate
Pretty discouraging, huh? If you want to do well on the HSK, get ready to study your ass off.