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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 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

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

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


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

File 2021-05-27, 1 23 55 AM.png

File 2021-05-26, 10 45 10 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 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


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 

Day 11 - LWT and Coursera FTW :)


Today's hours -> 2.8

Well I've finally caught up updating so log is now current :) After yesterday's good mock tests, I am wondering if I cant even just go for HSK 3? More research needs to be done, regardless I registered for it... I'll pay if it seems feasible LOL :D 

  1. Spent too much time setting up learning with texts, but that's now done, also discovered opLingo.com for reading help. Lets see if I can begin to use the characters I know in context.
    1. Spent about 15 minutes reading, found some beginner texts and am getting around 50% on first try.
    2. Added new resource links to my notion
    3. Wondering if  I should record my passive learning time i.e. Chinese drama and cpop music... I could hear some words yesterday in the drama -> so totally cool :)
  2. Aim to finish one coursera course
    1. Done! took about 2 hours 40min to complete the last 3 weeks. I'm bushed.
    2. Completed the Taiwan Uni one, it was faster and loved that it was totally in Mandarin... I did notice some different words, but who cares, synonyms :) 
    3. I'll need to come back to it later, I passed the last quiz barely



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 10: 08 May - Apps are your friend


Today 2.8 hours

Good session. Focus on vocab today to try and get as many words in as possible. Managed to register for HSK 2 will, pay next week.

  1. Vocab drills 20 min
  2. Vocab apps and lessons1.8 hours
  3. More vocab exercises 40 min



Day 9: 07 May - I love pinyin :)


Today 1.6 hours

Worked on Hello Chinese and other apps for 1.6 hours.

  • seem to be getting the words ok recognition is good especially for pinyin,
  • pronunciation is ok.
  • Hearing definitely improving.

Day 8. 6 May - dololo


No work done today, just too lazy.. especially after realising I cant write mid May... so am thinking maybe double down and go for HSK 2 in June....


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.

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