Thinking about taking the HSK exam and want to find the best textbooks to help you prepare? Then you’re in luck, because here we have selected what we think are the best HSK textbooks to help you get ready for the exam.
It’s important that you enter the HSK exam as prepared as you can possibly be, and although you can’t learn everything from a textbook, they definitely help you to prepare. Mandarin is an incredibly difficult language to learn and although you should be learning in lots of different ways, a textbook can give you the structure to work you way through the language and make sure that you understand all of the grammar points and have learned all of the characters.
We’ve broken our recommendations down into best HSK textbooks and best HSK workbooks so you can practise the skills you’ve learned.
Best HSK textbooks
These are the textbooks that we believe you will need for whichever level of learning you’re currently at. With the HSK it is necessary to invest in a textbook and a workbook so you can do the exercises and check your progress.
- HSK1 Standard Course
- HSK2 Standard Course
- HSK3 Standard Course
- HSK4 Standard Course – book 1 and 2
- HSK 5 Standard Course – book 1 and 2
- HSK1 Workbook
- HSK2 Workbook
- HSK3 Workbook
- HSK4 Workbook
- HSK5 Workbook
The following HSK textbooks are incredibly useful. They take you through all of the grammar, sentence structures and provide you with all of the necessary vocabulary that you will need to pass the HSK exams.
HSK standard course book takes you through the first 150 characters, and the appropriate grammar for this level. It will help you to learn how to make basic sentences and talk about yourself, your family and where you’re from.
At HSK you learn 150 new characters so the jump isn’t too great. The HSK 2 standard course is the perfect textbook to help you to make this jump.
HSK 3 is a bit more difficult but still manageable. In this HSK textbook you will learn 300 new characters to prepare you for HSK3.
HSK4 is where things really start hotting up and you have to learn a whopping new 600 characters, which is why we the textbook is now divided in to two to cover the big leap in material that you have to learn compared to 1, 2 and 3.
This HSK4 textbook is simply a continuation of the first textbook and will help you to learn the grammar and vocabulary necessary to pass the HSK4.
HSK5 is an incredibly difficult exam but with these two textbooks and a lot of practise there is no reason that you shouldn’t be able to nail it. In these textbooks you will learn 1200 new characters. Thats pretty much everything you’ve learned up to now again! But don’t worry, with the basis in Mandarin that you now already have this should be much easier than learning the first 1200 characters.
Best HSK Workbooks
The following workbooks are the perfect way to practise what you’ve learnt from the textbooks. The workbooks provide you with a series of activities to practise your Chinese and help you develop the skills that you’ll need in order to ace the exam. They’re necessary because without the HSK workbooks you wouldn’t be able to check your progress or have the chance to practise the new grammar structures that you’ve learned.
The HSK1 standard course workbook takes you through exercises to practise the first 150 characters.
Because the HSK1 workbook is so short, you’ll be finished it in no time!
The HSK2 standard course workbook is a great accompaniment to your other textbook as it will allow you to do exercises to see how you are progressing and to practise the skills you’re learning.
A HSK2 workbook is very useful and shouldn’t take you that long to progress through.
The HSK3 standard course workbook will help you to go through the material you have learned in the HSK3 textbook.
At HSK4 a workbook is more necessary than ever. With 600 characters to learn and the grammar to go with it you’ll definitely need a workbook to help complement your learning.
Finally the HSK5 workbook is more necessary than any of the other ones because at HSK5 you have the most to learn. You will need this workbook to practise the grammar and new characters that you have learned in your HSK textbook.
Common Questions About The HSK
As well as recommending some of the best HSK textbooks for you, we’ve also compiled a list of common questions about the HSK to help you feel prepared for your exam.
What is the HSK?
The HSK is the official Chinese language exam.
What does HSK stand for?
Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi – which means Chinese proficiency test
Why should I take the HSK?
If you want to study in Chinese universities or work for a Chinese company in a Chinese speaking role then it is necessary you take the HSK exam to demonstrate your level.
How many levels are there in the HSK?
There are six different levels:
What does the HSK test?
The HSK tests your listening, reading and writing skills. If you want to test your speaking skills then you need to sign up for the HSK-K exam, which is under the same examination board but is tested separately.
How can I prepare for the HSK exam?
- I would recommend you prepare for the HSK exam by taking either formal languages or learning with a Chinese speaker.
- Chinese is a difficult language to learn, especially the pronunciation of the phonemes and I believe it is necessary to take classes with a native Chinese speaker to fully grasp this.
- To learn the grammar I would recommend buying a Chinese workbook textbook in order to learn the necessary grammar and vocab at each level.
- Drilling vocab can also be useful for the HSK as there are a set amount of words that you have to learn.
- Another thing you can do to improve your chances in the HSK is to improve your Chinese accent.
- Finally it is incredibly important that you do past papers before the actual exam to make sure you understand the format of the exam and what you need to do.
- Get plenty of sleep the night before the exam and make sure you know where the exam centre is
- Try and remain calm; although it’s important you always have the chance to retake if you fail first time round
How long is the HSK certificate valid for?
From the time you take the exam, the HSK certificate is valid for two years. So if you’re thinking about taking the exam, it may be useful to wait until you will be able to use it, for example to apply to a university or if you want to work or live in China.
Many people find this unfair, especially given that other language certificates last much longer, but if you don’t practise your Chinese in two years, it’s unlikely that it would’ve stayed at the same level. Therefore having an expiry date on the qualification is necessary if it demonstrates your level of fluency.
How long does the exam last?
The length of the exam depends on which level you’re taking. The higher the level the longer the exam will take.
Where can I find dates for the HSK exam?
You can find dates for the HSK exam on this website
How can I sign up for the HSK exam?
You also sign up for the HSK exam on this website. I would recommend giving yourself plenty of time to sign up to avoid any disappointment in case all of the places were booked up.
Where can I take the HSK exam?
The HSK exam can be taken in cities all over the world, to find out where take a look here. You don’t need to be in China to take the exam, you can take it from your own country or even city. You just need to find the location of the nearest exam centre.
How long does it take to receive the HSK results?
Approximately 40-60 days after you take the exam you should receive your results.
Hopefully this has helped you to feel a bit more prepared to take the HSK and has helped you to choose the perfect HSK textbook for you. Although a textbook isn’t the only method of learning it can certainly help, especially when it comes to preparing for an exam like the HSK.
Are you currently preparing to take the HSK exam? Or have you already had some experience with the exam before? If you have please tell us all about it in the comments below. We always love to hear about your experiences and it will be especially useful to any of our readers who are thinking about taking the exam themselves.