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Challenge 2: Reading and writing level up! - IN PROGRESS

  • handwriting and typing all HSK3 600 characters in 1 month :) -> target speed of 40 characters per minute
  • and reading well, to read an HSK 3 book by month end -> target speed of 40 characters per minute

Challenge 1: HSK 0 to 3 exam - COMPLETE

  • Starting from scratch Getting to HSK 3 in the fastest time possible with a job and life :)

Entries in this blog


Challenge 2: Reading and writing level up! Day 1

Reading and Writing

So to get going again I am starting a new challenge. I've had a 3 week break so it's time to consolidate and build up areas that I did not focus on before. I will also be beginning Korean this month but real slow. I know my target speeds are ambitious... but that's what makes it a challenge :)

Challenge 2: Reading and writing level up!

  • handwriting and typing all HSK3 600 characters in 1 month :) -> target speed of 40 characters per minute
  • and reading well, to read an HSK 3 book by month end -> target speed of 40 characters per minute


Today I was gathering materials and making a game plan.

  • Found tons of writing practice PDF's
  • work on minimum 20 characters a day, writing, typing
  • I will finish the HSK 3 course on coursera.
  • I will work on Hello Chinese again, use sticky study ever so often to keep my vocab.
  • My English typing is slow so I'll be training to touch type as well, else I'll never get to typing 40 chars a minute
  • I'm going through character book reviews to see if I'll like to use any of them
  • I will use learning with texts - I'll use a lot of songs I've come to love and poetry and idioms, yes this will be extra vocab that I don't know but I enjoy the material more so...
  • I will use new reading sites e.g. little fox, chairmans bao, duchinese, dong chinese
  • join the tadoku reading challenge
  • also add anki sentences into the mix


Worked on the first 20 characters.


Day 17: Mock tests, progress thus far


Today 3 hours -> Total hours = 34


Testing 2 hours 15 minutes .

Did a vocab test first, 

  • HSK 1 - Characters = 115, Pinyin = 126 
  • HSK 2 - Characters = 19, Pinyin = 33

HSK1 Mock test - Last one at HSK 1 moving to HSK 2 now

  • got 195, only one wrong :) safe to say one can pass HSK1 with 40 hours of prep. On to the next 40...

HSK2 Mock test - saw fire...

  • got 62/85 for listening the pictures aid quite a bit
  • got 48/100 for reading...(most of that guessing) long way to go


40 minutes Vocab,

  • focusing on getting new HSK 2 vocab now


5 min Hello Chinese > to keep my streak lol :D 


Day 37: Test day HSK2 and HSK3 !!!


Today 3 hours.

Total time put into prep = 96 hours over 32 days (had 5 lazy days)


So I put it an hour of vocab and another 2 hours of Revision videos, but was totally finished.

HSK 2 went well but was slow for some reason in the reading section so I missed three questions :(

HSK 3 ... well let's just say I was examined... and found wanting.


Results are out in 10 days time.. as for today, sleep!


I can safely as the first challenge HSK 1 in 40 hours was met and is easy and doable

The upgraded challenge of HSK2 in 80 hours (cumulative) I'm sure was met,.. I'll know in 10 days.

 I had hoped to have more than 120 hours towards HSK 3 but we'll see what 96 hours brings. 


Day 2: Reading what..?

Reading and Writing

Not a bad day overall spent two hours copying script on my tablet... and then tried form memory... much harder then but we shall persevere!


Day 16: More coursera and introducing stickystudy


Todays hours 3 hours 


Spent the whole day procrastinating, now trying to get some hours in... :) I discovered a new app, first paid one, called stickystudy. It made me realise I was learning all my vocab as units and not the individual characters. E.g. I can recognise bei zi for cup but not bei or zi by themselves 🤦‍♀️ so kinda feels like staring afresh.. For the example may just focus on units though, will be faster, but then again the ground work of individual characters can give me gain later... sigh.


  1. 2 hours 10 min -> Coursera. finished week 3 then did all of week 4
  2. 20 min Hello Chinese app -> just keep going! 
  3. 30 minutes sticky study - yerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr 

Day 3 and 4: Weekend of nothing

Reading and Writing

Well not quite nothing, I practiced one character that counts right? We are off camping tomorrow so I will take my study material with me... just not sure how much will get done over the next three days with minions in tow. Maybe I should find the characters for marshmallows and smores and write those 😜


Day 11: 09 May - Halfway to 40 hours and mock tests!


Today 3.1 hours -> cumulative 20.2 hours

Another good day,

Basically about halfway 40 hours in so want to see if I could pass an HSK 1 exam.

  1. 1.6 hours: Tested 2 mocks and got 170/200 (85%pass) Tested word recognition and got 97 pinyin and 67 characters!! Yaaay. So one can def pass HSK 1 with 40 hours practice. And yet there are some words I have not even gotten to, I think about 30 or so so 97 from 120 is fab!
  2. 75 minutes worked on coursera lessons
  3. Decided to start practicing writing too spent 17 minutes

Day 20: some recovery

Reading and Writing

2hr 20 reading on du chinese, it gets easier as I go :)

Love my hsk 1 writing book, it stats with easier characters so been smooth sailing so far now at char 58 :)



Day 5 to 19: Houston we have a problem...

Reading and Writing

First it was camp, I did spend 30 minutes reading out there in the bundu on the du app... that's something

Then I cam back and I just could not figure out where to begin

Then a week passed...

Then I printed the first 200 characters from a frequency list -> so many new words spent some time on the first 30 or so

Then I read from Du a bit

Then I thought maybe a need a copy book, so went on Amazon and ordered a few... they arrived yesterday, So spent time on 1 characters...


To say I am behind is an understatement. Basically wasted half a month. Lets see what I can salvage in the last few days


Total Time spent

Reading: 1 hour 30 min

Writing: 1 hour 25min


Characters I can write approx 30


Day 18: Slow day


Today 1 hour 50 minutes



vocab for 30 minutes -> HSK 2 vocab seems harder lol.

Coursera lessons -> 1hr 20 minutes


So discovered HSK 3 has no pinyin 🤦‍♀️😬😱


Day 29: I'm tired...


Today 2 hours 40

Slow day

I'd happily stop studying right now... zhēn de!!! But I can't  I have 7 more days of cramming characters and phrases...


  • Coursera 2 hours 20, i have skipped hsk2 and went straight to 3, sometimes doing exam prep and sometimes lessons, because I'm finding 3 vocab difficult to get for some reason... I think I've hit that slow down wall. beginners energy has flailed :( exponential learning has crawled to a near stop. But I'm so close... I'll make three happen somehow.
  • 20 min Vocab and Hello chinese 



Day 34: Progress... Test=t-2 days


Today: 6 hours 15min


I had to take a step back and reassess, the HSK 3 vocab is just not getting in... the same words I just cant remember, so I took an HSK 2 mock test passed but not aced, so focused on HSK 2 today. Completed the Coursera course for HSK 2 and I feel more confident. Will go back to HSK 3 tomorrow, after a couple more HSK 2 mocks. HSK three is gonna just be for fun LOL aiming for 40% right now!!!

Lol work and sleep has taken a back seat. It's OK I'll sleep on Sunday.


  1. Vocab 3 hours, revision of 1 and 2 and a few more words in 3
  2. Coursera course 2 hours
  3. Mock tests 1 hour 15 Aced HSK1; HSK 2 got 86/100 and 64/100

Day 33: Stagnated... Test=t-3 days


Today: 5 hours 20

My progress is so slow, I can remember vocab from HSK1 and HSK2 pretty well, about 95 off the bat, but 3 is still at 50%. sigh

Practiced using the app today with and HSK1 test got 100%.If only that was three, LOL

Everything feels so scattered, and the forgetting curve is making itself known...

  1. 1 hour - YouTube 
  2. 50 min Hello chinese
  3. 3hr 30 vocab

Day 21: Vocab...


... can put you to sleep....

Well that's what happened to me, 30 min in or so. I just drifted away. Guess I was bushed.


Time ca~ 30 min


Day 35: Yerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!! Test=t-1 days


Today 7 hours....

I can literally feel my brain cells popping and growing new neurons and in the process becoming entangled...


  • Coursera and YouTube lessons -> 2 hours 50, wish I'd found some of these earlier... 
  • Vocabulary : 4 hours 10 min -> fattening the calf at the dip


Only worked when I had meetings or calls lol, about 4 hours, the rest of the time was Chinese.. Took two HSK 2 tests today did very well in one 91/100 and 92/100 later I got 82/100 and 64/100, a lot was just silly mistakes.. tired brain? sigh...

Finally got some progress in HSK 3 words, at 82% but I don't trust my memory too much, grammar points probably only have 2 lol.

I'll try take an HSK 3 mock now before bed.. see if I can get even 30%


Couple hours later... Done with test:-> listening not bad 75/100 , reading without pinyin dismal -> 33/100


Day 22: Vocab machine!!!


Today: 5 hours 45 min

Needed to play catch-up and boy did I ever!!!

  1. 3 hours 15min-> Doubled down on Hello Chinese am trying to finish the old tree in the next 4 days. Worked on 1000 points today
  2. 2 hours 30 min -> Doubled down on drilling vocab as well, got 100% on HSK one and moved my HSK 2 vocab from 10% to 50%, need it to be 100% as well in 2 days.

So I was thinking of cancelling my HSK 3 booking but the payment was received before I could, so I took it as serendipity -(or stupidity, only future me will know) So the aim now is get all my vocab for HSK 2 down, then slowly add HSK 3 hoping to get half of he word in. Slowly work on some grammar coz that will def be needed for HSK 3. So I'm dropping writing totally and not focusing too much on speech either. Main focus is getting my reading as close to perfect as possible, listening with precision and figuring out sentence structure. That way I'll pass the exams... but will need to go back in future to get the speech and writing. I reckon it may even be fun because the vocab will slot in and make learning easier. I have begun to hear some words in cdramas :) but because I watch at 1.5 or 2x speed well...

File 2021-05-21, 11 00 59 PM.png


Day 26: More than 35 words a day!


Today: 5 hours 15 min

So I am definitely in the vocab zone, upgraded my HSK2 vocab from 85% to 100% today and started on HSK 3 and up 5%. That's more than 35 words gained today!!! 

Was too lazy to do a mock test though... Using work breaks for Hello Chinese def helped coz then only had to find time for vocab and coursera before bed and so may actually sleep early today :) I also found a new reading site, Mandarin Bean, and will begin adding a few minutes of that in :)


  1. 2 hours 15 Hello chinese. Did 7 lessons, 12 to go. I've decided to leave review to after I complete the tree.
  2. 2 hours 15 Vocab, completed two now on to three
  3. 30 minutes coursera 
  4. 15 minutes Reading and listening on Mandarin Bean


File 2021-05-25, 9 42 46 PM.png

File 2021-05-25, 9 56 32 PM.png


Day 25: Mock test, new plan


Cumulative time thus far: 52

Today: 5 hours

So I created a new plan for the next 12 days before the exams... let's see how long I stick to it... it's now countdown mode so I will be doing more mock tests, and trying to read as much as possible. Work is still going to be a priority so I am going to just cram all my breaks with mandarin to try have a minimum of 4 hours a day


  1. Testing -> 2.5 hours
    1. Vocab test first, 

      • HSK 1 - Characters = 143, Pinyin = 144 
      • HSK 2 - Characters = 102, Pinyin = 114
      • HSK 3 - Characters = 19, Pinyin = 33
    2. HSK2 Mock test - much better

      • got 91/130 for listening the pictures aid quite a bit
      • got 44/100 for reading...still a ways to go, I recognised more words, just not sure of meanings in the combinations given...
  2. Vocab drilling -> 1hr
  3. Hello Chinese -> 1.5hr


File 2021-05-24, 10 55 59 PM.png

File 2021-05-24, 11 59 52 PM.png


Day 15: Coursera and Anki for speed


Todays hours 4 hours 10 minutes.


Trying to play catch-up :) I realised that I need to figure out a way to speed up learning if I'm to get minimum 300 words in, 600 seems like a pipe dream. or 300 I need to learn about 14 words a day in the next 21 days, as I already know about 100 if i focus that is doable.... for HSK 3 I'd need to learn 24 words a day. Pin yin only may work... characters ha!!! But I'm gonna try anyway. I reckon I'll still write the exam... maybe. I don't know. If I pass two I'll likely skip 3 and go straight to 4 So I'm thinking maybe write it anyway even if I fail.. decision decisions.


  1. 2 hours 50 min -> Coursera. So to get those words in I've decided to focus on the coursera Beijing Uni HSK courses and Anki with Hello Chinese thrown in. Those courses take time yoh!!! Not sure I'll finish HSK 2 at all, but I'll try a wee a day and see how it goes, today I did HSK 1 week 2 and part of week 3. This will be all the 'grammar learning' I do, well plus hello Chinese.
  2. 20 min Hello Chinese app -> just keep going! used it to break the monotony of coursera...
  3. 1 hours Anki. I'm going to put in an hour a day of Anki, re-calibrating it to bring back words sooner. I'm also looking for a vocab testing site or app so I can check each day/ or couple of days  how much I am progressing if any... and it will help all them dear words stick-> active recall :D 



First Entry - Day 1 to Day 7


Day 1. 29 April - 5 hours 30 minutes


So I read somewhere that HSK 1 can be done in 40 hours... so I decided ok lets try that then.


I have minimal learning exposure -I did some Yoyo Chinese pinyin about a year ago, and one coursera lesson when i decided to learn guzheng. But 40 hours is doable so hey why not.


On the other hand I have a lot of hours... thousands... under my belt of Chinese drama. Thing is I watch it usually at 2x speed so cant pick out a lot of individual words... I may have to slow hat down now sigh.


  1. At 4pm I started research spent about 90 minutes looking for resources, and figuring out what was required for HSK 1
    1. Joined discord servers, reddit groups etc
    2. Collected pdf's for practice
    3. set a game plan and updated my notion OS for learning the langauge, with resource links
    4. set up a new browser learning centre
  2. downloaded an app to use to track my time
  3. 45 minutes -> I then tested my vocab using an HSK list (got the numbers right and 15 other characters) - and attempted a mock HSK paper -> score 35
  4. 90 minutes -> Worked through a few chapters of 3 coursera courses
  5. 90 minutes -> Downloaded ton of apps to try out, and used all.. have 8 good ones left, deleted the rest


Day 2. 30 April

Spent 4 hours on coursera...


Day 3. 1 May

  1. 40 minutes on coursera
  2. 15 minutes -> downlaoded anki did some vocab


Day 4. 2 May

  1. 47 minutes on coursera 
  2. 15 minutes writing practice
  3. 15 minutes vocab app


Day 5. 3 May



Day 6. 4 May



Day 7. 5 May

  1. 30 minutes on vocab apps and Hello Chinese


Tried to register for exam  :( No luck seems home based is only in June... such a bummer :( But still could not register for that either.. finally got hold of CI and they said the site is down for  now... so will retry in a couple of days time.


Day 28: Smashing vocab!


Today: 5 hours 35

Ok so I tweaked my learning targets/plan a bit, because my exam centre said we can have a mock this Sunday... that's 3 days away... so I figured for me to do any justice to the level 3 test let me try get as much HSK 3 vocab in. So that's the plan try learn all words by the weekend... So I sped through the rest of the Hello Chinese Old tree! DONE, and hoping to get to 50% hsk3 words...


  1. 2 hours 45 Hello chinese. Tree complete in  
  2. 2 hour Vocab, > up to 28% on hsk 3 -> hitting a block with some of the words now, so thinking of doing hsk course 3 on coursera or YouTube so some of the words are in context ad thus easier to learn.
  3. 50 minutes coursera -> completed hsk 1

File 2021-05-27, 11 44 33 PM.png

File 2021-05-27, 11 45 02 PM.png


Day 31: No Mocks :(


30 min Today :(


I don't know how but I lost tons to time to day, PC setup and life... only spent about 30minutes on YouTube Listening... nowhere near what I should and did not even manage to do a single mock yet I had hoped to do 4 today :(

  1. 30 min YouTube HSK 3 course

Day 24: Rest day


I know a rest day when the exams are less that two weeks away... :D It was  glorious day and I spent it in the garden... Levelled some ground, created new flower beds, mowed and weeded the lawn!!! just no chinese... well 2 min of Hello Chinese to not lose my streak and some dram before bed. I was supposed to do mock exams today but was too tired  so will do those tomorrow since it's a public holiday :)


Day 12 - Which exam to write?


Today's hours: 1.5


LOL I l looked up HSK 3 600 words so a tonne more, but that's not the issue.. writing is!!! I only know maybe 5 characters off by heart :D :D  We'll see. Lets focus on two ad see how far I ge this week first. I may have to change my game plan. Regurgitating and cramming, and exam technique is easy for 1 and 2, but HSK 3 seems to be a different beast, so how to best get through 1 and 2 fast and yet benefit 3... mmm. I only have 9 days before payment deadline so I need to strategise.

  1. 30 minutes  Did Hello Chinese view and two sections
  2. 30 minutes Some vocab drills especially if I want to get those 600 in...
  3. 30 minutes Actual character practice to remember and not just mindlessly copying 
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