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Shi Tong

What can you do with the HSK?

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Daan

The undergraduate programme in Chinese Studies at Leiden University consists of three years, yes. A lot of students go abroad for an extracurricular year in China/Taiwan after their BA2 year, though.

I did the official mockup tests on the webpage (can't find it now). Level 4 was a child's play. On the other hand, level 6 devoured my soul. I'd probably go for level 5 if it were offered here, should be around my level.

I signed up for level 6 the other day. It's being offered on the 20th of June in Rotterdam. I originally thought level 5 would be the most appropriate for me, but then I did a few questions of the official mock-up test for level 5 on that webpage. They weren't all that hard, I thought, and I like a challenge, so I picked level 6 knowing I'll probably not be able to pass that, but at least it'll show me that there's a lot of ground to be covered still. Also, unlike the word list for level 5, I don't know all of the vocabulary on the word list for level 6, so the reading comprehension part in particular will require a bit of educated guessing, which I think is actually good, as that an invaluable skill when reading authentic texts. So, stay tuned for my thoughts on level 6 in just over a month!

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Shi Tong

Thanks for these replies again, they're all very useful! :)

Renzhe, interesting what you say about the test levels etc, and I can see why some people may get a degree at something but also find themselves not being actually all that good at the subject... however, I thought this behaviour was restricted to some other subjects like art and the like where people do it, almost for fun, and then not bother using it at all. :blink: I've always found this kind of behaviour rather odd-- I'd rather learn something of use and then actually use it.. otherwise it's a waste of time..

Right? :lol:

I'm going to take a look at more mock up tests and see where I really am, since I'm still almost guessing at the moment :)

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renzhe

Keep in mind that learning to speak the language is only one part of a typical Chinese university course. There's also classical Chinese, written Chinese, several thousand characters, culture, history, politics, and a number of other things that the course covers. On top of this, many courses do not intend to train business people or order-a-beer tourists, but specialists in the field who will eventually decipher manuscripts and whatnot, so the practical aspects are de-emphasised in many courses.

And all of that only for a few short years. People find that they learn the speaking part during their stay in China, which is one year. On the other hand, you find that they have lots of knowledge about all things Chinese culture and history that many fluent learners don't.

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Sarevok

Wow... I find it amazing that people can get a degree in an outside country in Chinese and yet be pretty incapable of Mandarin..

Out of curiosity, what kind of "level" would you think someone with a regular Chinese degree would have?! :blink:

Well, at my uni it was required to pass level 4 for Bachelor's degree and 6 for the Master's. Otherwise, they wouldn't let you sit for the final exam. Since there were too many people not passing the required HSK grades, it was made possible to take another exam, which could substitute the required HSK grade for graduation purposes. Needles to say, this exam was considerably easier than the old HSK... and there you go...

There are certainly those, who have quite good language skill after graduation... but I would say they are a minority (and usually those who were capable of passing the required or higher HSK grades)

Surely a mistake. The new HSK level 6 is considerably more difficult than getting an 8 on the old test. It is supposed to be easier than getting an 11 on the old test, though.

I'm basing this on sample tests, not real ones, but I'd say that the new HSK5 is around the old HSK8 level, and the new HSK6 around the old HSK9-10 or so.

It gets considerably more difficult.

I did the official mockup tests on the webpage (can't find it now). Level 4 was a child's play. On the other hand, level 6 devoured my soul. I'd probably go for level 5 if it were offered here, should be around my level.

I just browsed through the 大纲 for the new levels and also through the sample tests (which are part of the 大纲 now). The texts in reading section for level 6 seemed much easier than those articles about corneal transplantation, chemical properties of various synthetic fibres etc. you could find in the old 初中 level. True I didn't take the actual test with a stopwatch on my table and full concentration, just browsed through it reading various questions here and there... and my impression was that the overall difficulty and requirements were lower than what was required of me to get an 8. At the very best comparable with 8, but certainly nowhere near the old 10 :blink: Sure, there are some tricky parts in the new test, but according to the 大纲, some 60% is enough to pass it...

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gato

In the introduction to the New HSK Guide (someone posted a link to it earlier), it is stated very clearly that the New HSK is designed to be easier than the old test, so that it could be "a launch pad for the study of Chinese rather than a stumbling block."

It looks like they essentially eliminates the old HSK Advanced and re-divided the old elementary and intermediate test, with some new elementary tests added for absolute beginners. The Level 1 test requires only a knowledge of 150 words.

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renzhe

Time is a very important consideration.

Using the mockup tests, I could get through around 85% of the reading section of the old 初中 in the allocated time. Out of those 85%, I got most of the answers right.

Using the new mockups for level 6, I got through around 50% of the reading section before time ran out. I had less than 50% correct on those. Not too many wild topics, but very tricky questions, where you have to pick among 4 synonyms and choose the most suitable one, etc.

In short -- in the 初中, I was not quite fast enough, but I had a good grip on all the material. In the new HSK6, I was overwhelmed and out of my league. Something like the example questions I saw from the old advanced test.

But maybe the mockup tests were not representative.

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Sarevok

In the introduction to the New HSK Guide (someone posted a link to it earlier), it is stated very clearly that the New HSK is designed to be easier than the old test, so that it could be "a launch pad for the study of Chinese rather than a stumbling block."

It looks like they essentially eliminates the old HSK Advanced and re-divided the old elementary and intermediate test, with some new elementary tests added for absolute beginners. The Level 1 test requires only a knowledge of 150 words.

That's seems to be the best description of these new tests. First two levels for absolute beginners could be a good change - some of my students could sit for these after just one semester and be actually able to pass it... which could be a good motivation for some. But they don't care about the advanced learners anymore - for me it was also a motivation factor and progress measurement method to see how I was getting better and better HSK grades (which were seemingly impossible before). That's my only grudge against Hanban - a launch pad all right, but they should add a few more levels, me wants challenge! :rolleyes:

Time is a very important consideration.

Using the mockup tests, I could get through around 85% of the reading section of the old 初中 in the allocated time. Out of those 85%, I got most of the answers right.

Using the new mockups for level 6, I got through around 50% of the reading section before time ran out. I had less than 50% correct on those. Not too many wild topics, but very tricky questions, where you have to pick among 4 synonyms and choose the most suitable one, etc.

In short -- in the 初中, I was not quite fast enough, but I had a good grip on all the material. In the new HSK6, I was overwhelmed and out of my league. Something like the example questions I saw from the old advanced test.

But maybe the mockup tests were not representative.

I mostly focused on the reading section, because that was probably the most challenging part for me in the old test (speed reading in Chinese was never my strongest point). I really have to "take it for real" sometimes (by that I mean with a stopwatch, no way I am shelling out that ridiculous amount of money they want to charge for level 6) to see what it's really like. Just out of curiosity, did you have that "Cao Cao and the elephant" article in there? I wonder whether we were talking about the same level 6 mock test or not...

Having a good grip on the material is something which shouldn't be looked down upon - it's a skill of it's own which only comes to you after doing your fair share of mock tests and is equally important as the other skills needed for successful passing... "Know your enemy" as they say ;) Until there are some more prep materials available, you are in the dark...

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renzhe

The one about weighing the elephant? Yeah, I remember reading it, but not which level it was at. If you say it was level 6, then it is likely it.

The thing I don't get -- the online mockup test has an integrated stopwatch, how come you didn't use that?

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Sarevok

The thing I don't get -- the online mockup test has an integrated stopwatch, how come you didn't use that?

I didn't use the online version, but the paper version of the 大纲, which we have at our Confucius Institute (apart from wordlist etc. they now include a sample test... and there is separate 大纲 for each level).

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JenniferW

This probably sounds ridiculously obvious, but what you could do with an HSK depends on what you want to do ... where does learning Chinese fit in with your overall plans and what you're doing with your life?

I'm no longer working - retired, but used to work in China and keep going back on one trip or another. So I decided I'd study Chinese as one of the things I simply do because I enjoy doing it. When you're retired you can make that sort of decision. But I study on my own. I live somewhere there are no regular classes, and where there are never classes beyond the beginner level. So, I started taking an exam every year for two reasons (and this is the third year I'm doing this). It gives me a goal for the year's studies. First I did GCSE (I'm in the UK). Then I did the old HSK and got level 2. Next week I take the new HSK level 3. The second reason is that this gives me a formal assessment of my level. It's not always easy to judge your own real level, and the exam results have given me that, plus shown me what my strengths and weaknesses are.

So, reasons for studying are probably as varied as the people studying, and what the significance of the exam is will match that sort of variety, I think.

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Shi Tong

Hello all again.

Jennifer, where did you take your GCSE?

I'm studying for three reasons. 1) because my wife is from Taiwan and I like to understand everything about the culture, language helps with this, 2) because I will probably at some point either use it for work (in the UK) or in Taiwan.. I may also thing about moving there for some time and 3) because I enjoy it.

I've looked at some of the mock up exams for the HSK and a sample GCSE paper.

The HSK up to level 3 looked pretty acceptable to me (quite easy), and the GCSE looked like a breeze. Do you have any information on taking a GCSE because, like you, I'd like to know where I stand.. even if it means taking an easy exam.

I also found it hard to contact the HSK boards because I wrote one of them an extensive e-mail, as I did the edexcel exam board (the GCSE awarding board) and got no reply (not even a sniff).. I'm probably better of ringing them up, but I'd need some time to do that and since I'm at work most of the time and looking after the kids for the rest of it.. time gets eaten quickly.

I only get to do this because I generally get a few minutes at lunch! :lol:

Either way, interesting stuff. I will probably look at the mock ups of the HSK again at lunch and see where I stand (now!)

Thanks!! :D

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Lu
and I can see why some people may get a degree at something but also find themselves not being actually all that good at the subject... however, I thought this behaviour was restricted to some other subjects like art and the like where people do it, almost for fun, and then not bother using it at all. :blink: I've always found this kind of behaviour rather odd-- I'd rather learn something of use and then actually use it.. otherwise it's a waste of time..

Right? :lol:

People often choose to study a subject they (think they) are interested in. They are also often 18 or 19 when they choose said subject. Over time, they may find they are not all that interested in the subject, or more interested in other subjects, or that they can't find a job in their subject, or something happens that changes their life in some way, and they may end up doing something they didn't study at all. This doesn't just happen with 'art and the like' but also with law and business, and often with languages because there are only so many professions you can use language studies in, and not all of them pay the rent or are suitable for everyone.

Lastly, some people learn something because they like learning, or want to learn more about a certain thing simply because they would like to understand it. Even though they may not end up using it on a daily basis, I strongly disagree that this type of learning is a 'waste of time'.

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Shi Tong

Lu, you misunderstand me.

I'm not saying that learning is a waste of time, even if you dont "use" it practically. Some people as you say, are not given many options in terms as you mentioned.

However, let me just mention why I said this:

My brother, who did an HND in Art and Design was and is a very talented artist and designer. However, he didn't get the best grade in his HND. Nearing the end of the course, they did a project, and at the end of the project, they were offered to quote for a job by the project manager.

I believe that my brother was the ONLY person to quote for it. He got the job, and he's now a very sucessful artist, designer, web programmer and he runs his own business. Out of his college friends, none of them are now artists.

So.. weather this is because of the reasons you mentioned, or the reasons I mentioned, it's clear that some people study and basically dont use the skill they learned. I was quite stunned when my brother said how none of his class mates bothered to quote, and how now none of them are actually artists.

My aim is to use the skill I learn- if I cant, then, as you said, it's a shame, but it wont be from lack of trying or lack of motivation, which I think some people do suffer from.

EDIT: Just had another look at the tests.

From what I can see, the tingli kaoshi (listening) should be really easy (for me), but I tried the reading level 3 test and I thought it was relatively difficult. I reckon I will need to get a lot more characters under my belt, but certainly nothing so hard my head busted.

What I find strange though is that Level 2 (which I also looked at) was so easy it seemed like a joke. I got through loads of it within about 10 minutes and only had about 5 questions left.. then the test crashed (grr), but I will try again another time to see my 100% score.

What I think is so odd is the transition between level 2 and 3.. with level 2, the questions are really easy- the language used, the pinyin added (?!), it's like reading a childrens book (for me), but why then do they do away with the pinyin and add absolutely loads of new characters in at level 3?

It's not that it bothers me, it just seems like an odd way to go about testing (level 1 and 2- easy as pie, level 3.. probably about 150% harder).

Oh well, no problem, at least this time the website edelweis posted worked (THANKS!!), and now I know what to aim for. I think I will see if I can book a level 3 and work towards it. I think the listening tests etc should be quite easy, so it'll be (writing?) and reading for me!! :)

Just listened to level 3 tingli kaoshi again.... seemed very easy for me to understand the speaking on this. I'm just downloading level 4 listening test...

So it seems like my listening (&speaking) level and reading (& writing) level are far apart (which I already knew), with the levels being about 2-3 for read & write, probably 4 for listen.. at least, I'll listen to this level 4 test and report back. :).. upon which I would say it's a bit of a challenge, but I can probably think about level 5.. interesting.

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