What You Should Know about The New 3.0 HSK Test 

What You Should Know about The New 3.0 HSK Test 

If you’re learning Chinese, you have probably heard about the HSK test. It’s an exam to test your proficiency in Chinese. But what exactly do you know about the HSK? 

If it takes you more than a minute to find an answer, chances are you don’t really have a good grasp of the HSK, let alone a new HSK version, HSK 3.0. No worries. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the new HSK 3.0, the reasons why you should take the HSK test, and how you can prepare for the test.  

What is the HSK test?

The HSK, which is short for “Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi” 汉语水平考试, is the standardized test of Chinese proficiency for non-native speakers including overseas Chinese, ethnic Chinese, and foreigners. The first development for the HSK test began in 1984 at Beijing Language and Culture University, and it didn’t officially become a national standardized test until 1992. 

The HSK test was developed by Hanban, which is also known as Confucius Institute Headquarters. Hanban is a public institution which aims at providing Chinese language and cultural teaching resources and services worldwide. As a result, this agency has affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education to actualize its visions. 

The rapid growth of the Chinese economy has influenced more and more people to consider learning Chinese as a second language. And with the promotion of Hanban and the Chinese government, the HSK test begins to gain popularity. By 2005, over 120 countries were participating as regular host sites, and the test had been taken around 100 million times. 

How does the new HSK 3.0 test look?

The HSK test has been evolving from HSK 1.0 to HSK 3.0. The latest version of the Chinese proficiency test, HSK 3.0, was introduced by The Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China on April 1st, 2021. However, it won’t take effect until March 2022. 

The biggest cause of the reform of the HSK test was that HSK 2.0, the current version of the HSK test, seems to be too “easy.” In other words, many test-takers are able to pass the highest level HSK 6 effortlessly, but they are still far from fluent. 

Starting in 2022, the HSK test will consist of three levels (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced) and nine bands (HSK 1 to 9) instead of just three levels and six bands. The biggest change in the structure is the adding of the new advanced level (band 7-9). 

There will still be separate tests for bands 1-6, just like the current HSK. However, the requirements for the number of vocabulary words that students are expected to master will increase significantly. 

New HSK 3.0 HSK 2.0
Level Band Vocabulary Level Vocabulary
Elementary 1 500 (+350) 1 150
2 1272 (+972) 2 300
3 2245 (+1645) 3 600
Intermediate 4 3245 (+2045) 4 1200
5 4316 (+1816) 5 2500
6 5456 (+456) 6 5000
Advanced 7, 8, 9 11092

Unlike separate tests for HSK bands 1-6, there will be one test administered for all three of the new HSK’s most advanced levels. All candidates at the advanced level will take the same test before being assigned to either level 7, 8, or 9, depending on their score. 

Why do you need the HSK test?

People take the HSK tests for many different reasons. While some people take the test to challenge themselves, the majority of test-takers are likely to have more practical goals in mind. 

Enrolling in a Chinese university

China has a population of 1.4 billion people, but the rate of Chinese who can speak English is as low as 1%, with less than 10 million people. As a result, unless your course is taught 100% in English, otherwise you’ll have to study in the Chinese language. 

Though different requirements are made depending on the university and the courses, an HSK level 4 certificate is widely accepted for an undergraduate degree. Higher education such as postgraduate studies often requires an HSK level 5 certification.  


When in Rome, do as the Roman do. If you’re seeking a job opportunity in China, consider learning Chinese because that’s the language of the majority of the population! Obtaining an HSK certificate will boost your qualifications and give you an edge over other applicants. 

Expanding business

China has grown to become the most attractive market for investment, but there are many challenges you have to face if you want to expand your business to China. Language barriers are the first thing. How can you communicate with your clients or customers if they only speak Chinese?

“Customer is king,” if you want to understand and win clients or gain important partnerships, you’ll have to fill the language gap. Start learning Chinese! Also, enrich your knowledge of Chinese business culture and etiquette because it’ll help you to maintain a long relationship with Chinese partners. 

How do you prepare for the HSK test?

Find the right learning method

Without the right method, you’ll never be able to master Chinese. You can choose either to take an online course or enroll in a class in a language center which offers personalized consultancy and a tailored program that meets the needs of each learner. As a result, they’re considered the best ways to learn Chinese.

Read also: Retrieval Practice: Scientifically Proven Study Hack for Mandarin Chinese

Track your progress and optimize your learning 

Revise what you learn on a weekly basis to assess your progress. If there’s something you’re not good at, spend more time working on it. 

Prioritizing such tasks that require as much time to learn as building vocabulary knowledge since the vocabulary will be increased significantly. Learning Chinese vocabulary is a real challenge if you ask any Chinese learners. That is because the Chinese characters are completely different from English words, not to mention each character tends to have dozens of strokes. 

To memorize a large number of Chinese characters and words, you must follow the right technique. The rote memorization technique is fairly popular with many English speakers and learners. Therefore, most of them will apply this technique when they start learning Chinese. 

Of course, you can easily get the hang of simple characters and phrases such as wǒ (I, me), ài (love), 你好嗎 nǐ hǎo ma (how’re you?)…However, complicated Chinese characters are another story. They have so many strokes, and if you keep learning everything by heart, chances are you can only retain what you learn for a short time. I bet you can’t learn these characters with rote memorization: xiān (fresh/delicious), 风暴 fēng bào (storm), 寒暄 hán xuān (to make small talk). 

That’s when mnemonics comes in. Mnemonics is a technique that helps you memorize words for a long time because it uses elaborative encoding, retrieval cues to connect something you already know to something you’re trying to learn. 

Here’s an example from Pandanese, an online teaching platform that deploys mnemonics to help you learn Chinese words and vocabulary faster. The character yuè (to surpass/to exceed) consists of 2 components, the radical zǒu (go) and the component. The component itself has another radical gē (halberd). A mnemonic phrase to help you learn the character is, “If you want to surpass your competitors in a race, just run () with a halberd (), and everyone will back off!”. Isn’t it interesting? Check out Pandanese now!

Read also: HSK Test Preparation: A Basic Guide

The bottom line

Learning Chinese will open doors of opportunities. And if you want proof of your Chinese proficiency, there’s the HSK test. The HSK is a great tool to assess your Chinese language ability.

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