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rob07

Taking the HSK? Already taken it? Report in here! (2013)

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icebear
I'll probably post my thoughts in more detail in those threads, but basically I agree.

Quite keen to see your thoughts on it, given that a lot of experiences shared tend to be HSK4/5 focused - be good to hear a few more voices from the commanding heights :clap

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大肚男

I have recently passed HSK4, and depending on the outcome of my short trip to China next month, I will probably be taking HSK 6 on December of this year.

I have put studying Chinese on hold for now, as I prepare for a few professional exams. But hopefully, I will be ready to go into studying Chinese by June.

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tooironic

Just thought I'd report back about my HSK 6 exam that I took yesterday in Melbourne. There were about 5 other people in the room taking the HSK 6 along with me - a couple of other Aussie guys, a Chinese high school student (!), an Indonesian (?) woman, an ABC, and a few others. Here are my impressions about the test.

Firstly, the listening part. In all my previous mock tests I had managed to get over 70% for this part. But I found the questions in this real test harder and more idiomatic. Or perhaps there was just too much information contained in each question. Either way, I had to employ a lot of guesswork. The exam supervisor also commented that she thought the section was particularly difficult. To make matters worse, I also stuffed up halfway through - the absent-minded professor I am, I filled in two sections to the right of the paper, instead of moving down. I didn't realise this until a few segments after, so I had to quickly rub out my answers and refill them into the correct segments, which of course cost me valuable listening time. I'm an idiot though because this wouldn't have happened if I had used the official test papers during my mock tests. Let this be a cautionary tale for any other candidates out there. Overall I think I'll be lucky if I get 60% overall for the listening part.

Secondly, the reading part. Funnily enough, although I'd heard horror stories about candidates running out of time finishing it, I found myself completing the whole section with about 5 or 10 minutes left. And the extra 3 minutes reading time our examiner gave us certainly helped too! I can't give you an exact figure on this because there was no clock in the exam room (funny I know), though the exam supervisor wrote the exam times on the whiteboard. Suffice to say, I had some time to go through my answers to Parts 2, 3 and 4 of the reading part, and correct some of them I believed were incorrect. I estimate this would have given me an extra 5 or so marks that I would have lost otherwise, though of course there is no way of being certain.

Part 1 I didn't check again because I feel, as a non-native speaker, it is very difficult to be certain which of the sentences has a grammatical error in them. And I knew this part was my weakness because I always got 3-4 correct out of 10 in mock exams. I find that funny because I think my grammar and 语感 in Chinese is pretty good for a non-native speaker, but both my HSK tutor and I think that many of the supposed "errors" in this sentences are really only stylistic mistakes, picky collocation errors, even logical problems, etc., errors which are hard for non-natives to detect (and native speakers too sometimes).

(Edit: Like other candidates suggested, I did the reading part from the last section to the first - i.e. I did it backwards. In the end it didn't make much difference, but if I was pressed for time I think it would have been of some help as the 语病 section really is the hardest IMO.)

In terms of the topics tested, I remember there was one passage in Part 4 about a psychological theory where people are more likely to agree to something if they have already agreed to something else first which is less of a commitment (I can't remember the actual name for it in either Chinese or English). I remember there was also a passage about traditional Chinese fans, and a story from Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I have to admit that my knowledge of Sanguo is very limited but amusingly having seen the movie Red Cliff (赤壁) I found answering the comprehension questions a lot easier than expected. And when asked which chengyu summarised the story, I guessed 草船借箭, which turns out to be the correct answer (yay!). So it just goes to show that sometimes you can totally guess the answers in the reading section. Overall I think I would have got anywhere from 70 to 80% in the reading part, as I'm pretty confident that most of my answers for Parts 2, 3 and 4 were correct. But, again, there is no way of knowing until I get my results.

Lastly, the godawful writing part. This was the section I was dreading. Not just because there are many characters I have forgotten how to write over time because, like native speakers, I rarely write Chinese, but more importantly because I struggle to remember the entire sequence of events in the story they ask you to memorise in 10 minutes. In this way, I think the writing section tests your memory more than your writing skills in Chinese per se.

This particular story though was very straight-forward. It was about a woman who is applying for a job she is unqualified for, but ends up getting it in the end. The only problem was I couldn't remember the second-to-last part of the story, so I only barely managed to write 400 characters (they put character counts on different lines of the exam paper which is convenient). There was also a few characters I couldn't remember how to write so I used 同音字 instead. Of course all of this will attract deductions. I think it's safe to say I failed the writing part. I'll be lucky if I score 50% for it.

To sum up, I estimate I will get 60% for listening, 70-80% for reading and 40-50% for writing. Which puts me in a very precarious position indeed. My only hope is my reading mark makes up for the rest of my exam, or I manage to score high in the listening part. Thankfully, you only need to get 60% for the whole exam, and you don't need to pass a minimum mark for each section.

In terms of how much preparation I did, it's true I took about 20 hours or so of private tuition over a 1.5 month period. But though I had a great teacher, I didn't feel very motivated and often slacked off, mostly due to being busy at work, but also because I don't have an urgent need to get a HSK certificate. If I fail this test, I totally understand why, but I'll also be a bit annoyed because I don't really want to take it again. I will feel a bit ashamed as I know people who have passed HSK 6 only after learning Chinese for half the amount of time I have. On top of that, I work as a translator and interpreting trainer full-time, and use Mandarin every day with friends and colleagues, so I do consider myself fluent and thus worthy of the certificate. Then again, I could have tried harder to prepare for it if only I had the motivation. And the test is really cheap - only $75 - compared to the $800 I paid for my NAATI Translation Accreditation Examination. And, like I said earlier, the minimum passing mark is only 60% - the NAATI one is 70% for every section of the test (!).

So, anyone else take HSK recently? Look forward to hearing from you.

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淨土極樂
And the test is really cheap - only $75

Maybe we have different standards, but $75 is a lot for a student, at whom the test is really aimed anyway. And it's 650RMB in China (~105USD).

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icebear
Maybe we have different standards, but $75 is a lot for a student, at whom the test is really aimed anyway. And it's 650RMB in China (~105USD).

It's pretty affordable, as far as standardized tests go.

Thanks to tooironic for the details, very interesting.

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tooironic

One little extra thing I remember from the listening section which, like I mentioned in my previous post, was quite difficult. They used the idiom 天生我材必有用. Annoyingly, I had learnt the expression a few years ago but had forgot the meaning, so all I could was guess when filling in the question that was asked about it. I mentioned to some Chinese friends today that the term was in my exam - they seemed pretty flabbergasted. Now I don't think this expression is in the "official vocab list", is it? :wall

Edit: Just remember that this is a quote from a Li Bai poem. Are the HSK people that evil that they would test foreigners on their knowledge of ancient Chinese poems? I mean I could understand if it was in the reading section where you had more than 3 seconds to think of answer, but in the listening section...? Btw, for those interested, I've written a definition of the phrase on Wiktionary.

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山东朱

I did the HSK 5 last year in December and did indeed run out of time in the reading section. Having done well in the mock exams, the real one was quite a bit harder, just because I didnt calculate the time pressure before. Having thought to have failed, I was happy to receive a positive result after all:

听力: 81

阅读: 53

书写: 58

for a total of 192/300

Next months, it is HSK 5 for me again. Reading is the part that has improved the most over the last year for me - by now I am reading contemporary Chinese novels without much problems. In listening I hope for a marginally better result, same goes for writing. I basically need 210 this time for university application, but I am aiming for 225 points/75%, just so that I can comfortably aim for HSK 6 next year.

Will write again here once the results are in, which will be end of November, I guess.

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WestTexas

tooironic, did u get your scores back yet?

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tooironic

They're not coming up at chinesetest.cn yet, I guess I'll wait another week then report back.

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Frapunchino

i'll be doing the level 3 next sunday[the ccc in my country does not offer higher levels] . practicing the level 4 July 2013 past papers, i got

 6 answers wrong on listening part

4 wrong on reading part

2 wrong on writing part.

 

would I have passed if it was a real test ?

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rahxephon

Personally, I'm more curious as to what people would score on the spoken portion. Despite speaking arguably being the most important aspect of the language, I feel like I'm the only one who bothered to test that area. Actually, there was another girl who took the same time I did. So in the past 6 years I've studied Chinese, I know of a total of 2 people who took the spoken exam. 

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tooironic

I can't speak for others, but I didn't take HSKK because it's not required if you want to study in China. Not to mention the test itself seems pretty inadequate. Speaking is indeed a very important skill, but for those employers in China who are looking for candidates who can speak fluent Mandarin, a simple conversation should be enough to tell them whether s/he is fluent or not.

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rahxephon

I'm speaking simply in terms of just measuring ones ability, not necessarily needing the certificate for school or work. Everyone seems so eager attach a score to their listening, reading and writing, but not so much when it comes to spoken. A simple conversation could gauge someones listening as well. Honestly, I think reading and writing should be it's own test, with listening and speaking a separate test. 

 

And from my experience, I think a lot of people that study/have studied Chinese formally are actually less confident, less interested, and less proficient in the spoken language than someone who just learns out of necessity.  

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山东朱

Got the results for the HSK5 today. And it is a bit better than I hoped for - I was aiming for 240, and got 249 with 88 for listening, 84 for reading and 77 for writing (compare that to 81/53/59 last year, as written in my last post).

 

As far as the listening goes, the first 30 questions aren't too bad. The multiple question part is a bit harder, since it is easy to miss an important information or two. I didn't focus too much time on getting better there, just a few of the exam from this year and a book from Peking University (the 攻略 series, got those for every part). It's easy to miss an important information or two, especially if you don't read the answers before, but overall, I find listening more than managable on the HSK 5, since alot of questions are pretty straightforward.

 

Reading was my major weakpoint last year, and I can say, I really improved. For the most part, I didn't focus on the exam vocabulary, but just to expand my vocabulary naturally - by reading school books aiming at high school students - and my reading skills by starting to read chinese novels, by San Mao to be precise.  Which my reading skills improveed, the exam itself than seemed much easier then last year, where I ran out of time. I opted to go for the short texts first, then the first part where you have to fill in the blanks - were I didnt want to waste much time and so probably made some errors - and then the last part, the longer texts with multiple questions. These were not too hard, except for one about subway door systems where I just couldnt find the answers I was looking for. Will read that one again when it is uploaded...

 

I am a bit surprised that I only scored 77 in the writing, since I completed both texts. Might be though that I left out a word, and I know I made minor mistakes with some characters. Still, not too bad and a good improvement from last time.

 

All in all, I am happy to some measurable progress this year, and I will go for the HSK 6 in the first half of 2014!

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minni

I did HSK spoken test level 1 (corresponds to written test 1-2 levels) in 2012 at the Confucius Institute in my home country. I passed, have to dig up the certificate if you're interested in the score... I think it was around 75/100 (passing score 60). I'd be happy to comment on the test if someone is interested in taking it.

 

I thought it was rather difficult, especially compared with the written test (at the time my level was HSK 1-2). The biggest difficulty for me was remembering everything that was said on the tape. In the listen-and-repeat section you had to listen to words and sentences and repeat them. Relatively simple, but once the sentences got longer, I found it challenging. Probably for someone with a better memory it wouldn't be so bad ;)

 

Anyway, I struggled through it and thought it was ok, but I could hear a couple of students next to me, and they skipped most of the more difficult parts. So I would recommend that if you take the test, prepare yourself to remember a lot, don't panic and say something at least to each of the questions.

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Saurav De

Took HSK3 in Hong Kong today.

Written was a little tough in my opinion, compared to the model papers - especially sentence reconstruction.

 

The character writing required below (not in order)

ma (后)

hou (后)

zuo (做)

wei (位)

zao (早)

 

The listening and reading parts were reasonably easy.

 

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歐博思

Took HSK 6 and HSKK at Indianapolis Confucius Institute today. A stoplight at a major intersection on the way was flashing red and backed up for 30 mins, so I goto the testing center and thought for sure I was hosed. Fortunately the lady in charge still let me sit the first listening section-lucky lucky lucky!

In my test class there was me, and a Chinese girl. Two people. I could feel the bar raising.

Listening:

Assorted short clips pretty much on par with practice tests I've done. Easier than I thought, but awaiting final results to say any further.

Reading:

This is where mock tests helped the most. Otherwise I'd not have know to do this section backwards saving the extraordinarily hard 病句 for last (and just guessing at that). I read advice to not waste a single second on that impossibly hard section, and turns out that advice was spot on. I hear even natives can have problems with this section.

Writing:

My 64 ct Crayola was reduced to 15 ct.

But the Chinese girl was doing pretty well by the sounds of it, with her paper about to catch fire from speed pencil friction.

HSKK speaking advanced:

Section 1:Listen and repeat was by far the hardest thing in either of these exams.1) my English memory is already no good, and 2) I could hear my proctor thinking "did he get lost on the way on the way to the Basic Exam?" When I could only repeat a sentence or two. But each of the 3 listen and repeat wuestions were about 35 second long passages with continuous speech.

Section 2:朗读:this section relieved the proctor that I'd found the right test section. I really practice 朗读 often, so it was a breeze.

HSKK just finish up with 2 "what do you think about xyz " type essay questions where you speak for a couple mins each. If anyone else takes this be sure to clarify when you should be planning/thinking and when you should be speaking, I ended up doing both section 2 and 3 twice (who's complaining about warmups though. Really?)

Idk score estimates. I probably passed.

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nates

Took the HSK 5 in November, and just got my result back earlier today. I thought I was right on the bubble, and thankfully I did indeed pass.

 

听力:73
阅读:56
写作:65
总分:194

 

The reading comprehension score is embarrassingly low, and ironic considering that that was the section I scored best on when I took the HSK 4. I think it goes to show that the reading section is the most difficult aspect of the HSK 5. You really don't have the luxury of reading each passage line by line, and meticulously coming up with answers, because you are pressed for time. I would recommend that anyone who prepares for the HSK 5, first and foremost practices speed reading in Chinese, and strategizing through trial and error.

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