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Challenge 3: Challenge 1: HSK 4 in a month - IN PROGRESS

  • try and sneak in HSK 4, I'm not sure I will actually write the exam but I need to get 80% on at least 3 mocks then move on to HSK 5. I'll write HSK 6 I think
  • I will try and get my reading speed up to 60 char a minute

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

  • 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 in 1 month - COMPLETE

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

Entries in this blog


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. 


Todays hours -> 8 a record right there!

The day of reckoning is here. A few more hours revision, sleep, last minute cramming and the exam will be written.


  1. Vocab 3 hours 10!!! Yes I got 100% on sticky study in HSK 3!!! speed is not up to par but it gives me a better chance for the reading and writing sections :) I even begun some anki sentences, better late than never LOL. And managed to keep the others green with 96% and 90% accuracy, even 86% for three!!!
  2. YouTube (courses and videos and coursera vids, exam mocks, revision) -> 5 hours... yep a ton and still a few to go. I'll get halfway through the HSK 3 course I hope before the exam.


I will tally up my hours and experiences after the exam...  or Sunday LOL we'll see :)

File 2021-06-05, 12 07 14 AM.png

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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 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 32. -Recovery



  1. YT course 1 hours 20min
  2. Vocab drilling 3 hours 10 minutes

Life was till busy but managed to make strides! Got my vocab up to 50% of HSK 3 lets hope the trend continues, may yet pass 3 if only barely. Need to do HSK 2 mocks tomorrow though, and practice using the test app.


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 30 - pc build with lot's of listening


Today: 4 hours

So Saturday was a wash... I got all my pc parts, and decided to build it... and no it did not take the 4 hours i estimated. It took the whole day and then some... so  mandarin study, well let's see what was done...

  1. 3 hours vocab, most of it listening on YouTube videos of words, my  listening has gotten marginally better
  2. 1 hour YouTube HSK 3 course

So not too bad, but def not enough...


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 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

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Day 27: and so it goes...


Today : 4 hr 20 min


  1. 2 hours 35 Hello chinese. Did 6 lessons, 6 to go. 
  2. 1 hour Vocab, > three is going slow....
  3. 30 minutes coursera 
  4. 15 minutes Reading and listening on Mandarin Bean

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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

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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 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 23: More vocab


Today: 2 hours 30 min


  1. 1 hours 10min-> More Hello Chinese slower today bust still progress.
  2. 1 hours 20 min -> Vocab is going alright, got up to 70% in HSK2 from 50% I need to cement hsk2 to start on 3 though... do I need a new game plan? LOL I  change my game plan every two days...

File 2021-05-22, 11 56 30 PM.png


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 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 19 and day 20: No pinyin, lots of vocab


Hours = 3

Work has been hectic busy and also been helping with my baby nephew... sleepless nights and no extra hours... so focusing just on getting that vocab in and transitioning form pinyin to get my reading better. Beginning to realise how I was relying a ton on the pinyin sigh. Better wean myself now.


Day 19

Hello Chinese app 30 minutes

Vocab Sticky study 1 hour


Day 20

Hello Chinese app 30 minutes

Vocab Sticky study 1 hour


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 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 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 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 



Day 13 - Not much today


Today hours: 45 min

Slow day, was super busy, now its 11:30..

So just going to do a couple of Coursera lessons 30min

and some vocab before bed. 15min

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