HSK Test in Hong Kong: The Ultimate Guide for 2023
If you are learning Mandarin or interested in pursuing a Mandarin course in Hong Kong, you might be aware of a test called HSK. But what is the HSK test exactly? How does it work? What’s it used for? And what do you need to know to take the HSK test in Hong Kong?
Have no fear if you are baffled. In this post, we’ll walk you through what the HSK is, its levels, formats, structure, and whether or not you’ll need to take it. We’ll cover every detail of the HSK test in Hong Kong – exam centers, dates, and fees. At the end of this article, you should know everything you ever need to register and prepare for the HSK test in Hong Kong.
Let’s jump in!
Table of Contents
- The HSK Basics
- What Is the HSK?
- Why Take the HSK?
- What Are the HSK Levels?
- What Is the HSK Test Structure?
- HSK Formats
- HSK Test in Hong Kong
- 2023 HSK Test Dates in Hong Kong
- Registration Deadline & Score Release
- HSK Test Centers in Hong Kong
- HSK Test Fees
- How to Register for the HSK Test
- HSK Test Preparation
- The Right HSK Level
- HSK Practice Tests
- HSK Study Plan
- HSK Prep Courses in Hong Kong
- HSK Test Day
- Recap: Taking the HSK Test in Hong Kong
The HSK Basics
We’ve tried to make it as concise and easy to understand as possible, and learning the basics of HSK is a vital first step in achieving your Mandarin goals.
What Is the HSK?
HSK is the short form for Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, meaning “Mandarin Proficiency Test” in Mandarin.
As the name suggests, HSK is a standardized test designed for non-native Mandarin speakers (foreigners, overseas Chinese, and ethnic minorities of China) as a way of certifying their knowledge of Mandarin Chinese. The organizer of HSK is CLEC (formerly known as Hanban/汉办), an affiliation of the Ministry of Education of China that’s also in charge of the Confucius Institutes in Hong Kong and across the globe.
TheHSK focuses on how Mandarin 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).
Learn More: History of the HSK
Why Take the HSK in Hong Kong?
The HSK is intended mainly for students looking to attend a university or graduate school program in Mainland China.
But any non-native Mandarin speaker in Hong Kong who wants to certify their Mandarin level or simply track their learning progress can take the HSK. No citizenship or PR is needed and there is no age restriction.
For professionals, taking the HSK may increase employment opportunities and enable them to negotiate for a better salary. And if you wish to work in Mainland China, the HSK will earn you some extra points when you apply for a work permit. (View the China work permit points table).
Besides an HSK certificate never expires. It’s like a diploma. Once you receive it, it becomes your property and will always be a good testament to your Mandarin proficiency. (If you want to use your HSK scores to apply to a university in China, however, your HSK scores are valid for two years from the test date.)
So if you’re currently undecided about your future academic or career plans and you have some time (and money) to spare, then you might want to think about taking the test, regardless. This will give you some flexibility for your future, whether or not you think you need an HSK certificate right now.
That said, like any test, preparing for the HSK can be time-consuming, especially at high levels. 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, so you may not even need to take the test!
What Are the HSK Levels?
Each HSK level is its own exam which is taken separately. Currently, HSK 1 is the lowest level in terms of ability and HSK 6 is the highest. You can register for any level without going one by one. At each level, you either pass or fail.
HSK 5 and HSK 6 evaluate advanced Mandarin on an academic level. You need to know roughly 2500 Chinese characters and over 5,000 words for HSK 6.
HSK 3 and HSK 4 are elementary to intermediate levels tossed halfway between HSK 1 and HSK 6.
You’ve probably heard of the new HSK. At the moment, the HSK test is indeed being revamped to ultimately reach up to Level 9 (as close to a native as one can get) over the next couple of years. Learn more about the new HSK.)
There are no ramifications if you fail to pass an HSK test. You can take the test at any level 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 HSK Level Should I Aim for?
What Is the HSK Test Structure?
Depending on its level, an HSK test is 35-130 minutes long.
HSK 1 and HSK 2 cover a basic understanding of Mandarin 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 only in Chinese characters. The tests consist of three sections: listening, reading (all multiple choices), and writing. The total score is 300 (100 for each section), and you need to score at least 180 points 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.
Here’s a chart that summarizes the test structure, time, and scoring of each HSK test level:
|Level||Test Structure||Test Time||Test Scoring|
* You’ll be given an extra 5 minutes to fill in your personal information.
Check out below for a comprehensive detail for each of the HSK test content and structure.
HSK Formats in Hong Kong
The HSK test in Hong Kong is offered in two different ways: internet-based HSK (on a computer at an authorized test center) and paper-based HSK.
The internet-based HSK is the more popular choice among test-takers, but unfortunately, only one HSK test center in Hong Kong offers the HSK test in the internet-based format as of 2023. The others have yet to meet CLEC’s requirements to conduct the digitized test.
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. (Since the pandemic in 2020, you have the option of taking the internet-based HSK at home over a video call, monitored by a live human proctor.)
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.
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.
Learn More: Paper-based HSK vs Internet-based HSK
HSK Test in Hong Kong
Now that you know the core fundamentals, let’s take a look at how actually you can take the HSK test in Hong Kong.
2023 HSK Test Dates in Hong Kong
The HSK tests are offered 11 times a year in Hong Kong, which means you have plenty of dates to choose from, so pick the best date for you and your schedule.
The official HSK test dates for 2023 in Hong Kong are:
|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 weekends, with no exceptions. HSK levels 2, 4, 6 usually start at 9:00 am and HSK levels 1, 3, 5 usually start at 1:30 pm.
HSK Registration Deadline & Score Release
The registration deadlines for the internet-based HSK tests are 10 days before their respective test dates. But if you want to take the traditional paper-based HSK test, you must register at least 4 weeks before.
Your HSK test score will be available on the HSK website one month after the test date, except for the test dates held before the national holidays in China (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 date, 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
Though the test dates are already fixed for the entire year, most test centers in Hong Kong 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).
Also, take note that not all test centers in Hong Kong administer HSK tests at every level on every test date. How often your test center gives the HSK at your level depends on their funding and on how popular it is. Always double-check with your test center to see your available test dates.
Once you decide on your test date, it’s always better to register early than late, because most test centers have limited seating. Registration will always be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity is reached. Besides, if you experience a technical glitch registering online at the last minute, CLEC will not be able to make accommodations for you.
If you intend to use your HSK scores to apply to colleges or universities in China, you’ll need to schedule your HSK test date around your application deadlines.
Learn More: The Best Time to Take the HSK
HSK Test Centers in Hong Kong
As of 2023, there is a total of 7 authorized HSK test centers in Hong Kong, 6 of which offer the paper-based HSK test. The internet-based HSK test is available only at the GAPSK test center.
Here’s the complete list of the 9 official HSK test centers in Hong Kong, with their locations and contact details.
1. GAPSK Language Promotion Council
Address: Room 1803, 18/F, Hollywood Plaza, 610 Nathan Road, MongKok, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2366 2612, +852 39771557
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
2. HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education
Address: HKU SPACE, 11/F, Fortress Tower, 250 King’s Road, Fortress Hill, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3762 0805
4. Confucius Institute of Hong Kong
Address: Room A204, Core A, Chung Sze Yuen Bldg, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3400 3620, +852 3400 3263
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
5. Discovery Bay International School
Address: Discovery Bay, Lantau Island, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 2987 7331
6. Yale-China Chinese Language Centre
Address: Fong Shu Chuen Building, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Sha Tin, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3943 6727
7. Hong Kong Baptist University
Address: 224 Waterloo Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
Phone: +852 3411 5569
HSK Test Fees in Hong Kong
The price of the HSK test will vary depending on the level that you sign up for. For the 2023 HSK tests in Hong Kong, the fees (in HKD) are 200 (Level 1), 300 (Level 2), 400 (Level 3), 500 (Level 4), 700 (Level 5), and 800 (Level 6).
|Test||Price in HKD|
In addition, the speaking part of the HSK, or HSKK is being offered at Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels at fees of HK $300, HK $400, and HK $500 respectively.
The HSK test fees are the same across Hong Kong, though some test centers may charge an additional administration fee or postage fee. 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 Hong Kong
The registration process for the HSK tests is simple and straightforward. The easiest way to register for the HSK test in Hong Kong 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 familiar with the procedure. We’ve included screenshots throughout to make it easier to follow.
HSK Test Preparation in Hong Kong
Perhaps the most important is how you prepare for the HSK, so let’s go through some HSK strategies for you to do well on the test in Hong Kong. Even if your Mandarin skills are well above average, it’s a good idea to incorporate a few tips into your studying and test-taking.
Be sure to take note of the dozens of resources we link to throughout the chapters – they’re also worthy of your attention.
#1: Determine the Right HSK Level 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 or less. They might also waive the requirement if you meet other criteria.
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) and aim for higher levels (4-6). For the certificate to work, it’s common to aim for the highest levels: Level 5 or 6.
Well, if you simply want to assess your Mandarin skills in a formal setting and have some time to spare, you are free to take whatever level test and as many times as you like. But you might want to take a free practice test first to find your current level (and save money!)
#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 Books to Help Prepare for the HSK Test
You can also purchase HSK preparation books published in China that include access to practice tests on Amazon. Our top recommendations are:
-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)
–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)
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, 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 written in Chinese. See if you can find a Mandarin tutor to practice speaking Mandarin regularly. 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: The Most Useful 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 Hong Kong? 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 Hong Kong
A few institutions in Hong Kong arrange high-quality HSK preparation courses, and here are our top topics:
1. Mandarin House Hong Kong
Mandarin House is one of the most reputable Mandarin schools in China. They are recognized by the Ministry of Education of China as an official HSK test center (Shanghai) and received the “World Language Provider Star Award” from Study Travel Magazine in 2009 and 2013. Mandarin House offers HSK preparation courses in both small groups and 1-1 private tutoring in their Hong Kong school.
2. Q Language
Q Language is a well-established language school in Hong Kong with over 20 years of history. Their HSK preparation course, taught by experienced native-Mandarin teachers, aims to help you improve your Mandarin skills needed for the test as well as to equip you with a practical understanding of the Chinese language, cultural aspects and the nuances needed to communicate on all levels.
3. New Concept Mandarin
New Concept Mandarin is a popular Mandarin and respected Mandarin school in Hong Kong. They have many years of experience in helping learners of all ability levels pass HSK tests. Their HSK preparation course can be both classroom and online-based.
#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 Hong Kong
HSK is the world’s most authoritative Mandarin proficiency test. Any non-native Chinese speakers, regardless of their nationality, age, or education can take the HSK test if they’re interested in certifying their knowledge of Mandarin for self-improvement, study opportunities in China, and career enhancement.
It’s easy to take the HSK test in Hong Kong with 7 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 preparation course in Hong Kong or hire a Mandarin tutor to help you crush the test.