Language certificates

Chinese language proficiency tests

Language certificates

The Chinese Proficiency Test (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi - HSK) is China's national standardized test for Chinese as a foreign language. It has been designed and developed by the Beijing Language and Culture University to assess the Chinese language proficiency of non-native speakers (including foreigners, overseas Chinese and students from Chinese national minorities).

HSK tests are held regularly both at domestic test centres and at overseas test centres each year. More than 140 HSK centres have been set up, and 300,000 people have taken the test.

The certificates are issued by the State Committee for the Chinese Proficiency Test of China in accordance with HSK scores and are recognized in many countries all over the world. They are a reference standard used by companies, organizations and educational institutions in recruiting people for jobs for which Chinese language skills are necessary. Chinese proficiency certificates are also a proof of Chinese language skills of foreign students applying for enrolment into schools and universities in China. The National Office offers candidates with excellent HSK scores scholarships for studying in China for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language.

HSK certificates have permanent validity once they’re earned, but the score report is valid only for two years from the day of the test. The certificate and score report will be sent to the agency where the test was taken within two months of the day of the test. The agency may then forward the documents to the candidate, but is otherwise only required to hold certificates and score reports for a further three months.

HSK levels

There are different HSK tests available, each one representing a specific knowledge level of Chinese on a score of 1 to 11:

HSK Basic (1-3): Candidates are required to know between 400 and 3,000 Chinese words and some basic grammar. The HSK Basic has three levels: A, B and C. Tests consist of three sections: listening comprehension, reading comprehension and grammar. Undergraduate students coming to China are required to have passed Level A.

HSK Elementary-Intermediate (4-8): Candidates attempting the HSK Elementary-Intermediate test should know between 2,000 and 5,000 Chinese words, and have completed between 400 and 2,000 hours of Modern Chinese classes or have competency that is equivalent. The test is made up of four sections: listening comprehension, reading comprehension, grammar and a cloze test (an exercise which requires candidates to fill the gaps in sentences with the correct words). To be admitted to a Chinese university program taught in Mandarin, you need a minimum score of 6.

HSK Advanced (9-11): Candidates for the HSK Advanced test should know between 5,000 and 8,000 Chinese words. It is made up of six sections: listening comprehension, reading comprehension, grammar, a cloze test (an exercise which requires candidates to fill the gaps in sentences with the correct words), speaking and writing. Gaining the HSK Advanced enables you to study at graduate level in China.

Additional tests for university admission in China

Students applying for undergraduate study positions in science, engineering, agriculture or medicine are required to sit the test of maths, physics and chemistry as well as the HSK. A passing grade is 180. Those wishing to study undergraduate trade, economics or management are required to sit the test of maths, with a minimum pass-grade of 60.

Further reading

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: