For those of you who aren’t sure what the HSK is; it’s the official Chinese language exam. There are six levels to the HSK ranging from HSK1 all the way up to HSK6, which get dramatically more difficult with each level.
So why do the HSK?
The HSK can be incredibly beneficial, both to your future prospects and your own Chinese skills. Thousands of people take the exam every single year for al kinds of reasons.
Here are our top reasons why you should consider taking the HSK exam.
Why you should do the HSK exam
To study in China
If you want to study at a Chinese University and the course is going to be taught in Chinese then you need to do the HSK exam in order to prove your Chinese proficiency. This is a necessary part of the application process and without this you won’t be accepted into a Chinese University.
To see which level of HSK you require, you should check with the University that you’re applying to, in case different universities have different requirements.
To work in China
This isn’t necessary in all cases, but if you want to work for a Chinese company that’s based in China then it may be necessary to take a HSK exam to prove your Chinese proficiency, especially if the company is predominantly Chinese speaking.
Luckily this isn’t always necessary but it will also look favourable to Chinese employers as you’re taking the Chinese culture and language seriously, rather than just expecting your colleagues to speak in English.
To get a VISA for China
The Chinese government are becoming more and more strict on requirements to gain VISAs to live and work in China. They want skilled workers who can contribute towards the economy and who want to be a part of the community.
This means that requirements are stricter on what your educational background is like, your level of English, what kind of job you will be doing in the country and most importantly, you level of Chinese.
The Chinese government want to be sure that you want to be a part of China, so showing a dedication to learning the language and taking a Chinese language exam will help your chances of getting a VISA to live and work in China.
To improve your Chinese
Taking the HSK exam will also just help to strengthen your Chinese. If you set yourself the goal of the HSK4, then you’re going to study that material because you’ll know you have an exam coming up.
Goal setting is a fantastic way to improve skills and this is definitely applicable to languages. Not only will you learn the relevant grammar and vocabulary but you’ll also practise your skills, which will make your Chinese much better.
If you’re thinking about taking the HSK exam it’s important that you prepare properly. A great way to do this is to use textbooks to work your way through the material. Check out our HSK textbook recommendations.
These are the reason why you should do the HSK, here are some reasons why you might not want to do the exam.
Downsides to doing the HSK
When you’re making an important decision, especially one that’s going to take you time and money it’s important that you consider the disadvantages as well as the advantages of doing something. Therefore, although we think it’s a great idea to take the HSK here are the downsides to committing your time and money to taking this exam.
- It’s only valid for two years.
If you take a language exam that uses the CEFR (for European languages) then your qualification is valid forever. But with the HSK it’s only valid for two years. So if you’re not planning on using your qualification immediately you may want to rethink taking the exam until you’re going to need it. The fact that the HSK is only valid for two years is frustrating but it makes sense. If you don’t use your Mandarin within two years then it’s likely that your Chinese level will have decreased in that time.
- The speaking part of the exam is separate
If you sign up for the exam, you will have to sign up for the speaking section separately and pay separately for this as well. The HSK exam normally only consists of the listening, reading and writing components of the exam and if you want to test your speaking ability you have to sign up for the HSK K which tests your oral skills.
This obviously isn’t a huge downside but it can be a bit of a pain and can definitely put you off taking the exam if you have to incur extra costs.
We don’t actually think these reasons should put your off taking the exam, because although you may have to retake it and although the speaking part is separate, taking the HSK can be enormously beneficial to you and definitely something you should consider if you’re currently learning Chinese Mandarin.
If we’ve managed to convince you then take a look at some of the common questions about the HSK here. We hope you’re find this article on why you should do the HSK exam useful and we hope we’ve managed to convince you to give it a go.
If you’ve taken the HSK exam or if you’re planning to do it in the future then please let us know in the comments below. We always love to hear about your experiences, especially if they can help our other readers with their language journeys.
To check out some personalised experience with the Chinese exam, watch this youtubers account of her taking the level six! We can’t imagine getting to this stage of Chinese proficiency but if you’ve studied and worked hard enough to take the HSK6 exam then we have nothing but respect for you, because let’s face it, Chinese is tricky.
What are your thoughts? Do you think you could take the HSK exam?