How Long Is the HSK 5 Test?

HSK 5 test time

When preparing for the HSK 5 test, there are several details you cannot overlook. For instance, the length of test time.

HSK 5 is the second-longest test among all HSK tests. So, exactly how long is the HSK 5 test? Answer: 120 minutes for the computer-based HSK 5 (also known as internet-based HSK 5), and 125 minutes for the paper-based HSK 5.

In this post, we go over the length of the computer-based HSK 5 and the paper-based HSK 5 test section by section. We also give you five tips on how to deal with the HSK 5 test time so that you can stay focused for the whole test.

How long is the HSK 5 Test Overall?

HSK 5 test time management

We generally recommend taking the HSK 5 test on computer if you have the option (find out why here). The computer-based HSK 5 test time is 120 minutes. This means with check-in (20-30 minutes), the HSK 5 test takes about two a half hours.

There are three sections on the HSK 5 test: Listening, Reading, and Writing. Each section has its own designated time limit. There is also a mandatory 5-minute break in the middle of the test, between the Listening and Reading sections for you to fill out the registration sheet (which is in fact not necessary with the computer-based test since it’s filled out automatically).

The following table gives an overview of HSK 5 timing and the number of questions you’ll have on each section:

Section Time Number of Questions
Listening 30 mins 45
Break 5 mins /
Reading 45 mins 45
Writing 40 mins 10 (tasks)
Total 120 mins 100

Bear in mind that in the computer-based HSK 5 test, each section is time-locked, and you won’t be able to skip to the next section until the designated time has expired.

For example, even if you are able to finish all the questions in the Reading section in 25 minutes, you have to wait another 20 minutes before the Writing section is loaded on your computer.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the length of each HSK 5 section.

How long is HSK 5 Listening?

HSK 5 listening test time

HSK 5 Listening is 30 minutes long, making it the shortest section on the HSK 5. This section consists of two parts including 45 questions (all Multiple Choices). All audio clips are only played once. Below, we look at how each part is timed.

Multiple Choice (Part 1)

In the first part, you’ll listen to 20 audio clips, which take the form of short dialogues. Each dialogue consists of 2 sentences. At the end of each dialogue, a third person will raise a question (the question won’t appear on screen/test paper), and you need to select the best answer from the four answer options presented on screen.

Each audio clip (including dialogue and question) is 15-20 seconds long, and you have 15 seconds to make your choice before proceeding to the next clip.

Multiple Choice (Part 2)

The second part of the Listening Section still takes the form of multiple choices. You’ll listen to 16-17 longer dialogues or monologues, consisting of 4 or more sentences. At the end of the dialogue or monologue, 1-4 questions will be raised with a time gap in between (they won’t appear on screen/test paper).

Each audio clip (including dialogue/monologue and questions) is 20-90 seconds in length, and you’ll have 17 seconds to make your choice for each question.

Here’s a chart that summarizes this information:

Part Audio Clip Type Number of Clips Time/Clip Questions/Clip
Multiple Choice Dialogue 20 15-20 secs 1
Multiple Choice Longer Dialogue/Monologue 16-17 20-90 secs 1-4

How long is HSK 5 Reading?

HSK 5 Reading lasts 45 minutes, making it the longest section on the HSK 5. This section consists of three parts: Fill in the Blanks, Choose Matching Statement, and Multiple Choice. Let’s take a look at what each part stands for.

Fill in the Blanks (Part 1)

You’ll encounter 4 short passages in Part 1, each with a few words or sentences missing. You’ll be given 4 answer options for each blank and need to fill in the blank with the best answer. There are altogether 15 blanks in this part.

Choose Matching Statement (Part 2)

There are 10 short passages in Part 2, accompanied by 4 statements each. Only one of the statements is consistent with the passage and you need to pick it out from the 4 options.

Multiple Choice (Part 3)

In this part, you’ll get 5 longer passages and 20 questions in total. Each passage is accompanied by 3-5 questions that ask you specific questions about the content and style of the text. You need to select the best answer out of the four answer options provided.

Although you are not timed on specific parts of Reading, you should generally aim to spend around 15 minutes on the first part, 10 minutes on the second part, and 20 minutes on the third part. This gives you 45 minutes to read the 19 passages and answer the 45 questions (essentially, a pace of about one minute per question).

Here’s a chart that summarizes this information:

Part Number of Questions Suggested Pace
Fill in the Blanks 15 15 mins
Choosing Matching Statement 10 10 mins
Multiple Choice 20 20 mins

How Long is HSK 5 Writing?

HSK 5 writing test time

HSK 5 Writing is 40 minutes long. This section consists of two parts: Arrange Word Order and Write Short Essay. We explain the detailed tasks below.

Arrange Word Order (Part 1)

There are 8 tasks in this part. In each task, there are a few words in jumbled order, and you are required to put the words in the correct order to construct a complete sentence.

Write Full Sentence (Part 2)

The second part consists of 2 tasks.

  • Task 1: You’ll be given several words and are required to write an essay about 80 characters in length using all the words provided.
  • Task 2: You’ll be presented a picture and are required to write an essay, also about 80 characters in length based on the picture.

Similar to Reading, there is no time limit for each part of Writing and you are free to divide your time between the two parts. We generally suggest you spend around 10 minutes on the first part (8 tasks) and 30 minutes on the second part (2 tasks).

Here’s a quick summary:

Part Number of Tasks Suggested Pace
Arrange Word Order 8 10 mins
Write Short Essay 2 30 mins

How Long Is the Paper-Based HSK 5 Test?

Not all HSK test centers have the facilities to conduct the computer-based HSK 5 test. In some regions or countries, this option has not been offered yet, and the students there must instead take the paper-based HSK 5 test.

Despite the difference in format, the test time of the paper-based HSK 5 is almost the same as the one delivered by computer. But you will be given 5 extra minutes at the end of the Listening section to transfer your answers from the test paper to the answer sheet, which makes the test 125 minutes long in total

how long is paper based HSK 5 test

Unlike the computer-based test where each section is time-locked (you cannot skip sections), you are free to divide your time among the three sections in the paper-based HSK 5 test. (Technically, you are not supposed to do so, as the time limit for each section is still mentioned on the test paper, however, the rule is almost never enforced in reality, and no one will stop you if you feel the need to skip around.)

Here is an overview of the time limits for the paper-based HSK 5:

Section Time Number of Questions
Added Time 5 mins (fill in personal info) /
Listening 30 mins 45
Added Time 5 mins (fill out answer sheet) /
Reading 45 mins 45
Writing 40 mins 10 (tasks)
Total 125 mins 100

As you can see, the actual test time of Listening, Reading and Writing sections are still the same as in a computer-based test (115 minutes in total). The difference is that you have 5 extra minutes at the beginning of the test to fill in your personal information, which is done automatically in a computer-based test.

You also need to utilize the additional 5 minutes after the Listening section to transfer your answers from your test paper to the answer sheet, while computer-based test-takers can just use it as a short break to relax.

How to Stay Focused for the Full HSK 5 Test Time?

With the check-in, count on being in the HSK 5 test for two and a half hours. But the test doesn’t need to be tiring. Here are our top tips for dealing with HSK 5 timing, both before and on test day.

#1: Choose a Test Center and Test Date that Work Best for You

Make sure you pick a test center that is easy to get to by public transit or car. The last thing you want to do on the day of the test is hassle too much with transit, which will physically exhaust you even before the test starts!

While choosing the HSK test center closest to where you live makes a lot of sense, be strategic when making your choice. Make sure you read our guide on how to pick the best HSK test center.

When you take the HSK 5 can also have a big effect on how easily you get through test day, so try to take the test on a free, easygoing weekend. If you know you have a crazy course load in the fall, but a light summer, plan accordingly. This way you’ll have nothing to worry about before the test and can rest and relax upon finishing it.

Ultimately, your goal is to perform your best on the HSK 5 test, so don’t choose a center or date that you won’t feel as prepared for the test.

#2: Take Full-Length Practice Tests

Another way to stay focused on the HSK 5 is to take full-length practice tests. This allows you to get used to the HSK 5 test time and steadily build up stamina for test day.

You can find HSK 5 practice tests online and offline. There are four ways to get these:

  • Official Website of Hanban: You can download the official HSK 5 practice test in PDF format for free from the website of Hanban, the administer of HSK tests. 
  • ImproveMandarin HSK Channel: We’ve created a few highly helpful HSK 5 practice tests with extremely realistic HSK 5 questions on our website.
  • Official Examination Papers of HSK (Level 5): This book published by People’s Education Press consists of five retired HSK 5 tests and costs 76.00 RMB. You can find it on Taobao.com and in many foreign language bookstores in China. The name of the book in Chinese is 汉语水平考试真题集HSK五级(2018版).
  • HSK Mock Tests for Level 5: This book is published by Beijing Language and Culture University Press. It contains 10 mock tests with realistic questions and costs 62.00 RMB. The name of the book in Chinese is 汉语水平考试模拟试题集(第2版)HSK五级.

Once you’ve got a practice test and are ready to take it, try to recreate a real testing environment as closely as possible: find a slightly noisy place to take your test in (this is important since the keyboard hit sound can get quite loud in the computer-based test, and in some test centers, paper-based tests and computer-based tests take place in the same testing room), and time yourself using official time limits.

Following these steps will help you get used to the HSK 5 format and allow you to prepare yourself, both physically and mentally, for the length of the test.

#3: Get Plenty of Sleep the Night Before

No matter what time your HSK 5 starts in the day, make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before. Tiredness will affect your ability to concentrate and make the test feel longer and more difficult than it really is.

If your test center is far from where you live but there is no other option, considering staying at a hotel nearby.

Furthermore, avoid studying long hours the day before the test. Your brain needs a break, so don’t try to cram more information into it when it’s already exhausted. This is not the time to pull an all-nighter!

Instead, take it easy, lay out your clothes for the next day, eat your dinner, pack your bag, take a shower, set a couple of alarms and head to bed early. A good night’s sleep will give you higher test scores!

#4: Eat A Good Breakfast

HSK 5 tests usually take place in the morning. Even if you normally skip breakfast or avoid eating when you are nervous, do away with that on test day. Breakfast is extremely important, as your brain needs the energy to work at optimal capacity. You need to keep your mental focus on HSK 5 and not on your hunger. It would be a shame to study intensively before your test and then be too fatigued physically to do your best on test day.

What’s A Good Breakfast on HSK 5 Test Day?

breakfast on hsk 5 day

Mental alertness is key during the test. Protein-rich foods, such as eggs, nuts, and yogurt are all good choices as they promote brain activity and alertness. Fruits and whole-grain cereals are excellent as well, as they have been shown to promote quick thinking.

A good breakfast combination can be whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk/yogurt, eggs and toast with jam, porridge, oatmeal, or sugar-free muesli.

Make sure you have enough time to enjoy a healthy meal. If you really cannot stomach food, then try having a protein shake or smoothie.

You should avoid eating food made of flour, such as cookies, muffins, cakes or any food high in refined sugar, such as chocolates, candies, desserts. Not only do they take longer to digest, but they can also give you an unexpected sugar rush during the test, making you jittery and distracted. Lots of carbs (such as rice or potato, pasta eaten in large quantities) can also have an adverse effect, as they can make you feel heavy and sleepy.

#5: Drink Water during Test

You are allowed to take a transparent bottle of water or drink to the HSK testing room, so bring it.

Water is most likely your best option. Make sure you drink enough of it before and during your test. Dehydration can make you lose your concentration, feel faint, and sap your energy.

Tea also works, though without a lot of sugar. Avoid sugary drinks like sodas and most fruit juices. These drinks will dehydrate you and hence promote weariness.

Avoid caffeine too, as it can increase your nervousness. However, if you are accustomed to drinking coffee regularly, then have a small cup (if you cut out the coffee suddenly and completely, you could end up with a caffeine-withdrawal headache).

Recap: How Long Is the HSK 5 Test?

The computer-based HSK 5 test time is 120 minutes, while the paper-based HSK 5 test time is 125 minutes. The computer-based HSK 5 is slightly shorter because you don’t need to transfer your answers from the test paper to the answer sheet in the Listening section.  

Here is a quick recap of how the timing of each section works for both formats of the HSK 5:

Section Computer-based HSK 5 Paper-based HSK 5
Added Time / 5 mins (fill in personal info)
Listening 30 mins 30 mins
Added Time 5 mins (break) 5 mins (fill out answer sheet)
Reading 45 mins 45 mins
Writing 40 mins 40 mins
Total 120 mins 125 mins

To perform well on the HSK 5, you must be prepared mentally and physically for the length of the test. Here are our top tips for helping you crush the test:

  • Choose a test center that’s easy to get to and avoid hassling with transit.
  • Choose a test date that works best for you – ideally, when you’re not tired or busy
  • Take full-length practice tests to increase your stamina for test day
  • Get a good night’s sleep and avoid exhaustion on test day
  • Eat a good, healthy breakfast to boost brain energy
  • Drink plenty of water before and during the test to stay hydrated