How to Register for the HSK: 9 Simple Steps
How do you register for the HSK test? It may seem complicated at first, but if you break it down, it’s actually a quick and simple process.
In this easy-to-follow guide, we’ll walk you through all the steps you need to take to register for the HSK, online and offline, regardless of which level you’ll select and which country you’ll be taking the test in. We’ll also explain the HSK test dates, formats, registration fees, important tips to keep in mind, and what to do if you need to change or cancel your HSK registration.
Let’s jump right in!
Things to Know Before You Register for the HSK
If you are not familiar with the test yet, here’s what you need to know before you register for the HSK.
HSK Stands for Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (汉语水平考试), meaning Chinese Proficiency test. As the name suggests, it is a Chinese language test for candidates willing to prove their proficiency in Mandarin Chinese for studying abroad, employment, and other purposes.
HSK consists of six independent tests at different levels. Depending on which level you can pass, HSK certifies your proficiency accordingly, from HSK Level 1 (lowest) to HSK Level 6 (highest).
There are two formats of the HSK test: paper-based, and internet-based (also known as computer-based).
We generally recommend taking the internet-based HSK if you have the option, especially if you are registering for HSK Level 3, Level 4, Level 5, or Level 6. (find out why here)
HSK Test Dates
The HSK test is administered 14 times a year around the world, giving you plenty of dates to choose from. The tests are all administered on a Saturday or Sunday, with no exception. HSK Level 1, 3, 5 usually start at 1:30 pm. HSK Level 2, 4, 6 usually start at 9:00 am.
Here are the HSK test dates for 2020. (The dates are the same across the globe)
|Test Dates||Internet-based HSK||Paper-based HSK|
|Jan 11 (Sat)||y (yes)||y|
|Feb 09 (Sun)||y||y|
|Mar 07 (Sat)||y|
|Mar 21 (Sat)||y||y|
|Apr 11 (Sat)||y||y|
|May 09 (Sat)||y||y|
|Jun 14 (Sun)||y||y|
|Jul 12 (Sun)||y||y|
|Aug 23 (Sun)||y||y|
|Sep 19 (Sat)||y||y|
|Oct 17 (Sat)||y||y|
|Nov 07 (Sat)||y|
|Nov 21 (Sat)||y||y|
|Dec 06 (Sun)||y||y|
The registration deadline for the internet-based HSK test is 10 days before each test date, while for the paper-based HSK test, you must register at least 4 weeks in advance.
HSK Test Centers
There are over 300 authorized HSK test centers in China and nearly 1,000 outside of China, giving you plenty of options. (We’ve pulled a list of worldwide HSK test centers on our website)
Note that not all test centers administer HSK tests on every level throughout the year (usually they don’t). How often a center administers the HSK test depends on their funding and on how popular the test is in that region.
Also, not all HSK test centers have adequate facilities to conduct the test in the internet format. So double-check with your test center to see your available options in advance. For example, if you plan to take the internet-based test in October, make sure your test center will be administering it in that month.
HSK Registration Fee
The HSK test registration fee is different at each level, and varies depending on which country you’ll be taking the test in. The cost typically falls into the 20-100 US dollar range.
Here are the prices for taking the HSK in China, in 2020. (The prices are the same for the internet-based HSK and the paper-based HSK)
|Tests||Price in CNY|
The price outside of China is converted into local currency and varies depending on your location. Check out the website of your local test center and you’ll find out exactly how much each HSK test costs in your region.
How to Register for the HSK
The easiest way to register is with your HSK account on the test website. It allows you to register 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Follow these nine steps to complete your HSK registration online. We’ve included screenshots to make the process easier to follow.
The registration process for the internet-based HSK and the paper-based HSK are essentially the same. The key difference is the registration deadline (you’ll need to complete registration 4 weeks before your chosen test date for the paper-based HSK).
Step 1. Open the HSK Website
Your first step is to go to the official HSK test website www.chinesetest.cn.
The default language on the website is Chinese. You can click on the language option on the top to choose the language that works best for you. The HSK registration can be done in Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, French, Russian, and Spanish.
We’ll choose English for explanations here.
Step 2: Create an HSK Account
Your next step is to create an HSK account on this website. You’ll use this account to register for the test, print your test admission ticket, and view your scores later.
Creating an account is easy to do. Click “New User” and you’ll be taken to the account creating page.
Fill in your personal info such as email address, nationality, native language, date of birth, etc (some required, some optional), and set a password for your account. Keep a note of your user name (email) and password before you submit.
This is the page you’ll see when you begin to set up your account:
Step 3. Choose an HSK Level
Now that you’ve created an account, you can register for the HSK test. Click “Register Now” on the main page (which you’ll be sent to after you set up your account).
On the next page, select a level for your HSK test.
You’ll be shown a short introduction to that level. Click “Register” to proceed.
If you don’t know which HSK level is right for you, read through this article to work out your HSK level.
Step 4. Select a Test format, Center and Date
Next, select the country or region where you’ll take the HSK test. Depending on where you’ll be taking the test, you may then also need to select the province/state and city/district where you plan on taking the test as well.
You’ll then select a test format as per your preference (paper-based or internet-based). After you’ve selected the format, a list of available test centers will automatically be shown below. Pick a center and a test date that works best for you.
Then read through and agree to the terms of service. Click “Submit”.
Note that the locations of the available test centers won’t be shown on the website, so check beforehand to make sure the one you choose will be a convenient option for you. (Read here for our advice on how to choose the best test center)
Step 5. Fill in ID information
After choosing a specific test center, date, and time, you’ll then be taken to the next page to confirm some basic information you already filled in such as your name, email, date of birth.
You also need to input a few more details about yourself on this page, such as name, gender, ID, phone number. The most important thing you need to pay attention to is entering the information of the ID you’ll be bringing on the test day. Make sure they match exactly, or you won’t be able to take the HSK test. And you won’t be able to go back and change the ID info after you’ve created the profile.
Step 6. Upload Your Photo
Press “Next Step” and you’ll be taken to the next page where you need to upload your photo for the test.
The photo has to be a recent, standard headshot (35mm×53mm – you can trim your photo on this page by clicking “cutting”) in white background and JPG format (maximum size 100 KB).
This is important because if you fail to upload a photo that meets the criteria, you won’t be allowed to enter the examination room later to take the test. (and you won’t be able to make any change to the photo once it’s uploaded)
Click “Next Step” when you are done.
Step 7. Reconfirm Registration Info
Carefully confirm your personal and test information again, and click “Confirm and Submit”.
Your registration info has now been successfully submitted! Here’s how the confirmation page will look like:
Step 8. Pay Test Fee
To finalize your HSK registration, you need to pay the test fee.
If your chosen test center offers the online payment option (all HSK test centers in China do), you’ll find a “Pay Online” button on the confirmation page (see the red arrow in the last screenshot).
Click on that to access the payment page (or you can log in to the website later and access this page from your account).
You can now select a method of payment and pay the test fee online. The options include Union Pay, Union Pay Express, Visa, Mastercard, and Wechat Pay.
A small window will pop up to remind you of the total fees. Confirm the order.
The easiest way to pay is with your Wechat, all you have to do is open the app and scan the QR code.
Alternatively, you can use Union Pay Express (you need to have a Chinese bank card and a Chinese mobile phone number). Click the second payment option and you’ll be directed to the following page.
Change the website language to English if it’s easier for you.
Enter your card information and click “Next”. On the next page, enter your phone number for receiving a verification code to allow the payment. Enter the code you received, and press “Activate and Pay” to complete the payment.
Voila! You have now successfully registered for the HSK test!
If you are taking the HSK test outside of China and your chosen test center does not offer the online payment option, you will then need to pay the test fee at that center.
In either case, make sure you complete the payment before the deadline shown on the confirmation page, or the registration will be automatically canceled.
Step 9. Print Test Admission Ticket
Your test admission ticket will be issued a few days before your test date (it’s usually ready on the Monday of the testing week).
You may either login to the HSK website and print the card in the “Personal Information Center” or collect it at the test center. If you don’t receive the ticket, contact Hanban, the HSK test organizer immediately.
Hanban Contact Info
Phone: + 86 (10) 59307668/59307634
On the test date, you must bring and present your test admission ticket along with an original, valid ID (photocopy is not permitted).
How to Register for the HSK Offline
Some HSK test centers do not offer the online registration option, and you must go to the test center to complete registration and payment on-site.
Make sure you have your identification document (e.g. ID card, passport, driving license, residence permit, etc) and two recent, standard, 2-inch headshots (in white background) with you when heading over to the test center. Fill in the test registration form and pay the registration fee on-site.
Note that the documentation requirement and registration fee might vary from center to center (some centers may charge an additional administration fee or postage fee on top of the test fee). And some test centers do not permit walk-in registration. It’s a good idea to consult with your test center and find out their policy before going over.
If there’s no HSK test center near you, you can register by mail. You will need to send a copy of your ID to the center, your resume including your Chinese and English names, nationality, gender, postal address, and two 2-inch headshots. You also need to remit the necessary expenses to the center by cash order. Shortly after the center processes your application for registration, it’ll issue you the test admission card.
When to Register for HSK?
If you’re taking the HSK as part of a school application, you’ll need to schedule your HSK test date around your application deadlines.
HSK scores take two weeks to get reported online (or one month if you take the paper-based test), but as much as 1-2 months to be delivered by mail to your test center or school. Since most schools in China require a copy of the physical test report, you need to give yourself enough time for them to receive your scores before application deadlines. It’s best to take the HSK test two and a half months before application deadlines.
Once you’ve decided on when and where to take your HSK test, it’s always better to register early than late, because test centers all have limited seating. Registration will always be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity is reached. Besides, if you experience technical glitch registering online at the last minute, Hanban will not be able to make accommodations for you.
(Note that while the HSK test dates are already fixed for the entire year, most test centers won’t allow you to register for the test far ahead of your test date. Registration usually begins 3-4 months before the test date).
Common HSK Registration Questions
Registering for the HSK test is usually a smooth process, however, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to fix something or get more information. In this section are some of the most common scenarios you may encounter, along with advice on how to solve them.
Any non-native Chinese speakers can take the HSK test. There is no age restriction. However, we recommend that students be at least 7th grade (or 14 years of age) before attempting to take a high-level HSK test (Level 5, Level 6). These tests require test-takers to read some difficult passages and be familiar with some sophisticated vocabulary and most students are not exposed to this type of language before the 7th grade. Younger Chinese learners are recommended to take the YCT (Youth Chinese Test) instead.
In the HSK scale, HSK level 1 and HSK Level 2 correspond to very basic Chinese skills. HSK Level 3 and HSK Level 4 introduce more sophisticated knowledge of Chinese. HSK Level and HSK Level 6 serve as indicators of high proficiency and fluency in Chinese.
Since language proficiency is something highly subjective, we suggest you work out your HSK level through the self-assessment tools we provide on this page.
No, you don’t have to pass, for instance, HSK 3 first to take HSK 4. It’s not mandatory to take the HSK tests in level sequence. You can register for any level that you like.
The two formats are identical in terms of difficulty level, test content and scoring criteria. The only difference is that on the internet-based HSK, the questions are presented on the computer screen and you are required to submit answers through the use of a keyboard and a mouse. For both formats, you need to go to an official HSK test center.
Hanban, the test organizer only offers HSK tests in simplified Chinese, but you can answer in traditional Chinese in the writing section on the test, if you like.
You can go back and edit most of your personal and contact information in your HSK account, however, once you’ve registered for a test, you cannot modify your ID information, photo, test level, format, and center. Therefore, be very careful when entering these.
Test date change is permitted (one time only) if you make the request 10 days before your registered test. However, you will be charged an extra fee equalling 30% of the test fee, if your request is made between 10 days to 27 days before the test (otherwise, it’s free). Once the deadline (10 days before the test) has passed, test date change will no longer be possible.
No. Once you have paid for the HSK test, you won’t be able to request to take the test somewhere else for whatever reasons. However, you can cancel your existing registration through your HSK account and submit a new registration (select the new test center this time) if you haven’t paid the test fee.
Once you’ve paid the test fee, the HSK test cannot be canceled and there won’t be any refund if you don’t show up for the test. Sorry.
Your HSK test score will be available on the HSK website two weeks after the test date (or one month if you take the paper-based test). Simply enter your test registration number (as shown on your test admission ticket), and you can access your score online.
The physical score report and the certificate (you’ll get one if you pass) will be sent to your test center 1-2 months after the test date, and you should be notified either by email or telephone for a pickup. (They will be kept at the test center for up to 2 years after the test date)
The HSK certificate has permanent validity. It’s like a diploma. Once you receive it, it becomes your property and is valid forever.
HSK scores in the accompanying test report, however, do have an expiration date of sorts. If you wish to use your HSK scores to apply to a college or university in China, your HSK scores are valid for two years only from the date you take the test.
Yes. You can take the HSK test at any level as many times as you like to, until you are happy with your score. There is no waiting period. The test fee is due each time you register for a retake.
Recap: How to Register for the HSK Test
When you know the steps to follow for HSK registration, it’s a clear and easy process. You’ll first need to create an HSK account on the test website. After you’ve set up your account, you’ll be able to choose the test level, date and testing center and register for a test that fits your schedule. The HSK test registration fee varies depending on the level and which country you’ll be taking the test in.
You can also change the test date or cancel your registration through your HSK account. Restrictions and fees will apply for both of these processes. Also remember that you’re free to take the HSK as many times as you’d like, at any level.
Now that you know how to register for the HSK test, it’s time to check out our tips, tricks, and resources to nail the test!
We’ve written an In-depth test preparation guide for each HSK level. Don’t miss out!
ImproveMandarin HSK Channel is a fantastic reference resource you can go to for honing your HSK and Chinese skills. If you have any questions or hiccups, we’re right here to help you!