HSK levels 4 and 5

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Personal announcement today: One month ago I took the HSK (汉语水平考试), and now that 30 days have passed the test-takers have been given their scores. I took levels 4 and 5 (the highest is 6), and found out yesterday that I passed both:

HSK四级 2012-10-21 -- lv. 4
听力 94.0 (listening)
阅读 92.0 (reading)
写作 80.0 (writing)
总分 266.0 (total)

HSK五级 2012-10-21 -- lv. 5
听力 89.0 (listening)
阅读 79.0 (reading)
写作 82.0 (writing)
总分 250.0 (total)

A perfect score is 300, 180 and above is a passing grade. The test itself is exactly the same format as the practice tests that can be downloaded (chinesetesting.cn, other places such as Lingq have them too), right up to the same recorded voices you hear in every one. The man and woman that always end up being a 小刘 (Xiao Liu) or 小王 (Xiao Wang) or whoever with the Beijing accents comprise the whole of the dialogues.

The content of the test is similar to proficiency tests in other languages in that it's formal and not entirely natural, not something you'd want to base your entire study of the language on but on the other hand a great way to focus for the months leading up to the test. Having finished 4 and 5 I don't really feel the desire to plunge straight into 6 just yet - HSK content is something you want to take a break from when you can and Chinese Pod and Fluentflix (now called FluentU) is much more fun.

One last note about the test: timing between these three sections is not quite ideal. Listening is unchangeable as you simply follow along answering the questions until the recording is over, but I had barely enough time to get through reading in lv. 5 (and I'm a fairly fast reader), while writing I had enough time to do it as slowly as I wished, erased a few parts and rewrote another few, and still had 15 minutes to spare at the end. It might have been possible to go back to the reading section but 1) I wasn't sure if it was permitted and there were only two of us in the room, and 2) after two tests in a row I simply didn't feel like doing anything but staring at the wall.

HSK level 5 is said to be equivalent to a C1 for European languages, but that's debatable.


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