HSK Test in Beijing: The Complete, Definitive Guide for 2023
If you are learning Chinese, you may have heard about a test called the HSK, which you can take easily in Beijing. But what is the HSK test exactly? How does it work? What can you use it for? And what do you need to know to take the HSK test in Beijing?
Have no fear if you are confused. In this article, we’ll walk you through what the HSK is, its levels, content, structure, and whether or not you’ll need to take it. We’ll cover every detail about the HSK test in Beijing – test centers, dates, fees, and you’ll find everything you need to know to register and prepare for the HSK test in Beijing.
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- The Basics of HSK
- What Is the HSK?
- Why Do You Need It?
- HSK Levels
- HSK Test Content & Structure
- HSK Testing Options
- HSK Test in Beijing
- 2023 HSK Test Dates in Beijing
- Registration Deadline & Results Release
- HSK Test Centers in Beijing
- HSK Test Fees
- How to Register
- HSK Test Preparation
- Determine Your HSK Level
- HSK Practice Tests
- HSK Study Plan
- HSK Prep Courses in Beijing
- HSK Test Day
What is the HSK?
HSK is the acronym for Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (汉语水平考试), meaning “Chinese Proficiency Test” in Chinese. It’s a standardized test designed for non-native Chinese speakers as a way of certifying their knowledge of Mandarin.
The HSK test has been going on for more than 30 years now, and it’s been taken millions of times around the world in over 150 countries. The test focuses on how Chinese is used in an academic setting. It covers listening, reading, and writing, but not speaking. So it quizzes on your general understanding of the language rather than pronunciation (there is a separate test called HSKK for that).
The organizer of HSK is CLEC (formerly known as Hanban), an affiliation of the Chinese Ministry of Education also in charge of the Confucius Institutes.
Learn More: History of the HSK
That said, HSK preparation and practice can be time-consuming. If you feel as though you don’t have time to study or are reluctant to take the test for any reason, then double-check to see if you must take the HSK. Some schools in China will waive the HSK requirement if you meet other criteria.
The HSK is composed of 6 different levels, from Level 1 to 6 with Level 1 being the most basic, and Level 6 being the most advanced, although the test is currently being revamped to ultimately reach up to Level 9 (as close to a native you can get) over the next couple of years.
Learn More: The New HSK
Each HSK level is its own exam which is taken separately. You can register for any level without going one by one. At each level, you either pass or fail.
There are no ramifications if you fail to pass the test. You can take the HSK as many times as you wish. That said, you may want to avoid wasting money and time on the wrong level. So follow the guideline from the test organizer.
Learn More: Which Levels of the HSK Are Worthwhile?
HSK Test Content & Structure
An HSK test lasts 35-130 minutes depending on the level.
HSK 1 and HSK 2 cover a basic understanding of Chinese and are therefore fairly short. The tests consist of only two sections: listening and reading. Each section is broken down into a few questions in the form of multiple choices. All questions are presented in pinyin as well as characters. There is no writing section.
Each section is scored out of 100. The two section scores are then added together for a final, total score of 200 points, and you need to score at least 120 to pass the tests.
From HSK 3 onwards, all the questions are presented in Chinese characters only. The tests are broken up into three sections: listening, reading (all multiple choices), and writing. The total score is 300 (100 each for listening, reading, and writing sections), and you need to score at least 180 to pass the tests.
To obtain the HSK certificate, you just need to reach the passing score – that’s all that matters. However, if you’re taking the HSK as part of school applications, be sure to always look up the requirements for your specific schools and keep the cutoff score in your head as you study for the HSK.
The following chart summarizes the test structure, time, and scoring of each HSK test level:
|Level||Test Structure||Test Time||Test Scoring|
|Listening||Reading||Writing||Full Grade||Pass Grade|
* You’ll have an extra 5 minutes to fill in your personal information.
Check out below for a comprehensive detail for each of the HSK test sections and items.
HSK Testing Options
The HSK test is offered in two different ways: internet-based HSK (on a computer at an authorized test center) and paper-based HSK. Since the pandemic in 2020, you also have the option of taking the internet-based edition at home over a video call, monitored by a live human proctor.
The internet-based HSK is the more popular choice among test-takers, however, not all HSK test centers in Beijing have the facilities to conduct the HSK in this format.
The internet and paper-based HSK tests are exactly the same in difficulty level, test content, and scoring criteria. The only difference is that if you take the internet-based HSK, questions will be presented on a computer screen and you will be required to submit answers through the use of a keyboard and a mouse.
Generally, we recommend you take the HSK on a computer over paper if you are signing up for HSK levels 3-6, as you don’t have to physically write every character in the writing section, which can be hard for many learners.
But the paper-based version also has advantages such as note-taking and section-skipping. If you feel more comfortable taking a test with paper and pencil, then we encourage you to do it.
In case you are wondering, universities and employers in China don’t have any preference in which format applicants take the HSK, and you can crush the test with flying colors in either format.
2023 HSK Test Dates in Beijing
The HSK tests are conducted 11 times a year in Beijing, which means you have plenty of dates to choose from, so pick the best date for you and your schedule.
Here are the official HSK test dates for 2023.
|Test Date||Internet-based HSK||Paper-based HSK|
|Jan 07 (Sat)||y (yes)||y|
|Mar 18 (Sat)||y||y|
|Apr 09 (Sun)||y||y|
|May 14 (Sun)||y||y|
|Jun 11 (Sun)||y||y|
|Jul 16 (Sun)||y||y|
|Aug 20 (Sun)||y||y|
|Sep 16 (Sat)||y||y|
|Oct 15 (Sun)||y||y|
|Nov 18 (Sat)||y||y|
|Dec 03 (Sun)||y||y|
As you can see, the HSK tests are all administered on a Saturday or Sunday, with no exceptions. The tests are scheduled in two shifts – HSK levels 2, 4, 6 usually start at 9 am and HSK levels 1, 3, 5 usually start at 1:30 pm.
Registration Deadline & Results Release
The internet-based HSK test allows you to register just 10 days before the test date. But if you want to take the traditional paper-based HSK test, you must register at least 4 weeks before the test date.
You can view your test results on the HSK website within two weeks from the test day if you take the internet-based test or 1 month after you take the paper edition, except for the tests held before the Chinese national holidays (Jan 07, Mar 18, Apr 09, and Sep 16). The announcement of the results will be postponed by another week if you take the test on any of the above dates.
The physical test report, on the other hand, will be sent to your test center 1-2 months after the test day, and you should be notified either by email or telephone for a pickup.
Here are the details of the HSK registration deadline and results release for 2023.
|Test Date||Registration Deadline||Score Release|
|Jan 07 (Sat)||Dec 28, 2022||Jan 30|
|Mar 18 (Sat)||Mar 08||Apr 10|
|Apr 09 (Sun)||Mar 30||Apr 24|
|May 14 (Sun)||May 04||May 29|
|Jun 11 (Sun)||Jun 01||Jun 26|
|Jul 16 (Sun)||Jul 06||Aug 01|
|Aug 20 (Sun)||Aug 10||Sep 04|
|Sep 16 (Sat)||Sep 06||Oct 09|
|Oct 15 (Sun)||Oct 05||Oct 30|
|Nov 18 (Sat)||Nov 08||Dec 04|
|Dec 03 (Sun)||Nov 23||Dec 18|
|Test Date||Registration Deadline||Score Release|
|Jan 07 (Sat)||Dec 11, 2022||Feb 14|
|Mar 18 (Sat)||Feb 19||Apr 18|
|Apr 09 (Sun)||Mar 13||May 16|
|May 14 (Sun)||Apr 17||Jun 14|
|Jun 11 (Sun)||May 15||Jul 11|
|Jul 16 (Sun||Jun 19||Aug 16|
|Aug 20 (Sun)||Jul 24||Sep 20|
|Sep 16 (Sat)||Aug 20||Oct 23|
|Oct 15 (Sun)||Sep 18||Nov 15|
|Nov 18 (Sat)||Oct 22||Dec 18|
|Dec 03 (Sun)||Nov 06||Jan 03, 2024|
When to Take the HSK
Although the test dates are already fixed for the entire year, most test centers won’t allow you to register for a test far ahead of the test date (registration usually starts 3-4 months before the test date).
Also, take note that not all test centers in Beijing administer HSK tests at every level on every test date. How often your test center manages the HSK test at your level depends on their funding and on how popular that test is. Always double-check with your test center to see your available test dates.
It’s always better to register early than late after you decide on the date because most test centers have limited seating. Registration will always be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity is reached. Book ahead to give yourself the best chance of securing a higher score.
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.
Learn More: How to Pick the Right HSK Test Date
HSK Test Centers in Beijing
It’s extremely easy to take the HSK test in Beijing since it has more test centers than any other city in China. As of 2023, there are 41 authorized HSK test centers across 7 districts in Beijing, and 23 of them offer the test-taker-friendly internet-based HSK test.
You can take the HSK test in the following districts of Beijing: Changping, Chaoyang, Dongcheng, Haidian, Shunyi, Tongzhou, Xicheng.
If you are studying at a university in Beijing, chances are your school already runs an HSK test center. You can have the opportunity to visit the testing site ahead of time to feel it out, and even find time to take some practice tests in that very building!
If you are not a student but just work or live in Beijing, you can easily sign up for the HSK test at a Chinese language school or educational institution authorized to administer the tests in Beijing, for example, Mandarin House, Confucius Institute Online, Confucius Institute E-learning Center, to name a few. They are all centrally located in Beijing.
Learn More: Full List of the 41 HSK Test Centers in Beijing
Now, choosing an HSK test center is actually not as simple as picking the one closest to you. You can be more strategic in your choice. We’ve come up with a few tips here to help you decide which center you should go to ace the HSK exam.
HSK Test Fees
The price of the HSK test will vary depending on the level for which you sign up. For 2023 HSK tests in Beijing, the fees (in CNY) are 150 (Level 1), 250 (Level 2), 350 (Level 3), 450 (Level 4), 550 (Level 5), and 650 (Level 6).
|Test Level||Price in CNY|
The fees are the same for both the internet-based HSK and the paper-based HSK at any test center in Beijing and across China.
Some test centers allow payment online while others will require you to pay in person. You can make a quick call or send an email to your test center to find out their policy if needed.
How to Register for the HSK Test in Beijing
The registration process for the HSK tests is straightforward. The easiest way to register for a test in Beijing is with your HSK account on the test website. It allows you to register 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Follow these quick steps to complete your HSK registration online if you are not sure how. We’ve included screenshots throughout to make the process easier to follow.
HSK Test Preparation in Beijing
Now that you know what HSK is used for and what it tests, we’ll cover a few tips for you to do well on the test. Even if your Chinese skills are well above average, it’s a good idea to incorporate a few tips and strategies into your studying and test-taking. That way you can bring your “A” game on test day.
So let’s go through a few HSK tips.
#1: Determine What HSK Level You Need to Take
If you’re taking the HSK test to attend a university in China, make sure you know the exact HSK level requirement for each school you are applying to. Most universities in China require their applicants to pass HSK 5 for admission to degree programs, but some may want a little more.
First, make a list of all the Chinese universities to which you want to apply. Next, go directly to their websites or Google “[school name] + international admissions.”
Almost always, the first link that pops up will be the page you’re looking for. Here, you can check to see their HSK level/score requirements and other policies. If the school doesn’t say them clearly on the admissions page, then contact the school’s admissions office directly. After all, you don’t want to study and pay for a test if your school of choice won’t accept it!
If you’re taking the HSK test for employment purposes, you might want to skip the low-level HSK tests (1-3). They do not hold much value other than to show personal improvement or to show that you are interested in and working towards attaining Chinese proficiency. For the certificate to work, aim for the higher levels (4-6).
#2: Take HSK Practice Tests
To get a better idea of your current HSK level and how much you’ll need to study for the HSK test, it’ll be smart to take some practice tests. That way, you can see where your current areas of strength and weakness are and see how the test works before you take the official HSK.
We’ve created quite a few HSK practice tests (for all six levels) on our website using real questions from past HSK exams. Try them out online or download and print out the paper version. They require no registration and are completely free.
Best HSK Prep Books
-Official Examination Papers of HSK (2018 Version)
This book series is published by People’s Education Press and is available at all 6 HSK levels. Each book consists of five retired HSK tests at the respective level, accompanied by an audio CD for the listening section and detailed answers.
Book name in Chinese: 汉语水平考试真题集(2018版)
Price: 45.00-85.00 RMB depending on the level
–HSK Simulation Tests (2nd Edition)
This book series published by Beijing Language and Culture University Press contains 10 mock tests with realistic questions at each level. The books come complete with an audio CD and answers.
Book name in Chinese: 汉语水平考试模拟试题集(第2版)
Price: 32.00-65.00 RMB depending on the level
Where to Get Them in Beijing
- Beijing Foreign Languages Bookstore
A mainstay for foreigners in Beijing for many years. It has a large collection of books on the Chinese language.
Address: No 235 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District
Open hours: 9:30-22:00 daily
- Wangfujing Bookstore
The best-known bookstore in Beijing. You can find many books for learning Chinese on the 2nd floor.
Address: No 218 Wangfujing Street, Dongcheng District
Open hours: 9:30-22:00 daily
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.
#3: Make a Weekly HSK Study Plan
Look at your daily and weekly schedules and see how many hours a week you can spend studying for the HSK. Even if your HSK date isn’t for several months, you’ll still want to try to budget at least 4-6 hours of studying Mandarin each week.
Studying Mandarin doesn’t always have to mean textbooks and grammar drills. If you don’t use much Mandarin in your daily life, then start incorporating the language into your daily routine bit by bit.
Watch TV shows, movies, and YouTube videos in Mandarin. Read news articles, magazines, books, or blogs in Mandarin. See if you can find a Chinese tutor to practice speaking Mandarin. They are just as important as sitting down and studying grammar and vocabulary.
Learning and retaining a language happens over time, and you can’t really cram for it or just study for one or two hours a week. It’s a good rule of thumb to study at least one hour each day, five days per week.
Learn More: Best HSK Prep Resources
#4: Attend an HSK Prep Course
If you find it challenging to study for the HSK on your own, why not take an HSK preparation course in Beijing? A good teacher familiar with the HSK structure can save you considerable time and effort. You will learn the exact grammar structures, vocabulary, and sentence patterns you need to put you in great shape going into your HSK Test.
Best HSK Prep Courses in Beijing
A few institutions in Beijing run the special HSK preparation course, and here are our top picks:
MandarinRocks is an award-winning Mandarin school in Beijing. Their HSK Preparation Course has a solid, successful history (95% of the students have passed the HSK exam after the course) and is of great value.
Cost: 170-210CNY/hour for 1-1 tutoring depending on how many hours you sign up
2. LTL School
Another well-established Mandarin school in Beijing. Their HSK classes are taught by experienced teachers who know exactly the tools you need to pass your HSK Exam.
Cost: 185-260CNY/hour for 1-1 tutoring depending on how many hours you sign up
3. That’s Mandarin
That’s Mandarin has established a strong reputation in the field of teaching Chinese as a second language. They offer HSK preparation courses at their school downtown and on their online learning platform Mandarin Café.
Cost: 168-350CNY/hour for 1-1 tutoring depending on how many hours you sign up
#5: Relax on the Test Day
The HSK is a test but it’s not the be-all and end-all. If you’re relaxed, you will be far more likely to do well, and if you fail, you can always retake the test after more study.
One of the best ways to help yourself relax is to make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before, eat a good breakfast, arrive at the test center at least half an hour before the test, and make sure you study enough past papers to let you know what to expect. Being familiar with the structure, timing, and content of the test will help to put you at ease.
Also, drink enough water before and during your test to stay hydrated, so you won’t feel weary and lose your concentration.
Recap: Taking the HSK Test in Beijing
The HSK is the world’s most popular Mandarin proficiency test. Any non-native Chinese speakers can take the HSK test if they’re interested in assessing their Chinese language competence. An HSK certificate can greatly boost your academic and career potential.
It’s easy to take the HSK test in Beijing with 41 authorized test centers in the city and 11 test dates a year. You can choose to take an HSK test from 6 existing levels (HSK 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and 2 formats (internet-based, paper-based), and can take the test as many times as you want. The HSK certificate has permanent validity (if you’re taking the HSK as part of a school application, then the scores are valid for two years).
To pass the HSK, you need to accurately determine your level, take some practice tests, make a study plan, stick to it, study hard, relax on the test day and let your instincts flow. If needed, you can take an HSK prep course in Beijing or hire a Chinese tutor to help you ace the test.