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roddy

Anyone Taken the HSK Advanced

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smalldog

Well, I took the HSK advanced last Saturday here in Singapore. I'm not sure why the test date is 2 weeks before the date in China -- maybe it's the same exam so I'd better not give too much away. :twisted:

Just about everyone else taking the test were Singaporean Chinese. They were surprised to see me and were asking "Are you a foreigner? Why are you taking this test?" and I was similarly asking "Are you Chinese? Why are you taking this test?" It turns out they were taking an adult Mandarin course and were required to take the HSK advanced as part of the course. It was a bit unnerving to be taking the test in a room full of native Chinese speakers, especially during the speaking section, even if their native dialect was Hokkien and they were not too literate in Chinese.

The test itself was much more difficult than I expected. I took the intermediate HSK in 2001 and got a level 7 and, although I haven't really studied since then, I use Mandarin both at home and work so I expected to be able to do ok without preparation. I just about coped with the listening and reading but the rest was a disaster. I'm sure I failed the writing and speaking as the topics were just inane and I couldn't bring any substance into my answers -- I think the technique here is to memorise some "good" passages and work them into your answer.

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anonymoose

Just took the HSK advanced for the first time today. It was pretty much as expected, but I think I did much better on the reading section than the writing, so I don't really know how my marks are going to come out overall, or if I'll even pass, but I guess I'll find out eventually...

One thing that did surprise me though, is that in the 朗读 section, the difficult characters are accompanied by pinyin transcriptions. The mock papers I have from BLCU don't have this, so I was surprised to see it in the exam. To some extent I think this defeats the purpose, right? I mean, where is the challenge if the difficult parts are transcribed? For anyone who's curious, the three transcribed characters were 巍, 馨 and 沱.

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roddy

Those will be characters considered to be so rare that an HSK student isn't expected to know them, hence they give you the transcription. The difficult ones are the ones you're meant to know, but don't :cry:

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anonymoose

Well, apart from those three characters I mentioned, all the others were pretty easy. There weren't any I didn't know (unlike on the mock papers I have which contain many, and no transcription), and I think any advanced learner should know 馨 since it is used in 温馨 which isn't that uncommon a word, and I would have guessed 巍 also (I seem to recall there was a thread on here about this character before). Only 沱 would have got me. I don't know what I'd have said, but possibly got it right anyway (except for tone) since I'd have guessed it has the same pronunciation as 驼 in 骆驼 or 鸵 in 鸵鸟.

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ChouDoufu

I'm preparing to take the test (Advanced) next month. It will be my first HSK and thus a trial by fire. I'm taking some classes to help me though. I haven't read through all of this thread yet, so I might repeat something that someone said before. Sorry.

What I've learned so far about the HSK accords with my instincts of about the test: it's more a test about how to take the HSK that also requires a good vocabulary level and grammar knowledge.

I'm been trying to work on strategies to take the test. Here's what I've come up with so far:

Writing: I have a good foundation in writing, but everything my teacher has taught about the writing section make me realize that if I had taken the writing test with my original mentality I would have done pretty poorly. The essay for the HSK is about form and not about content. The graders can't grade you on how brilliant your essay is (even if you SOLVE world hunger); they grade on your ability to use language. Tone of your essay does matter: Chinese graders don't like to see negative essays and don't like criticism. They tend to have conservative views about many social issues. If your essay conflicts with their views, it won't receive as good a grade. I'm currently learning how to answer the different types of questions that are asked--it is sort of like learning how to write essays again, but for the HSK these essays need to be simple in structure (this pleases graders who have to sit for days reading essay after essay, many of which are written in broken Chinese), and in content. Using chengyu (and suyu) effectively adds to your grade, as does using complex sentence structures.

Speaking: Except for the 朗读 section this is actually the same as writing, in that you are answering a question (hopefully by creating an outline along the same steps as you would in the writing section). Instead of writing, though, you speak. There are some pitfalls that can be avoided here though. Keep the pace of the initroduction, langdu and question answers the same. No matter what speed you normally speak, it's best to have a deliberate measured speed of 90wpm or so. It's especially bad to read the intro and langdu section quickly and follow it up with slow answers. You'll end up competing with yourself, getting good marks for an accurate quick 朗读 and poor marks for being slow in the later sections. Learn how to use pauses. If you use pauses at the proper points in sentences, you can use the time to think about what you're doing next. If your pauses come erratically at innappropriate times, then it shows a lack of fluidity. speak loudly: if the teacher can't hear you, you'll do poorly; speaking loudly also keeps you from focusing on the other people in the room.

Reading: This will require much practice. It's much more about skim and find. After looking at the questions and answers one must skim through the passages. This section seems very similar to the SAT tests in the US (at least when I took it). With enough practice one could really improve their grade on this in my opinion. [i'm welcome to more strategies in this section.]

Zonghe: grammar, grammar, grammar, 搭配、搭配、搭配. From my look at 综合 it really seems to be about those two things, grammar and 搭配. IN the find the mistake section, it seems like understanding what grammatical structures are in the sentence is important. If you know the pattern being used, then you can analyze whether it's being used correctly. In the construct the sentence section, the grammar patterns used give you an indication of how to order the sentence. fill in the blanks is all about how words are used and differentiating words with similar meanings. learning 搭配 seems like it would be pretty helpful.

Listening comprehension: This one worries me the most. Question for those who have taken the test. Are the recordings played really garbled with background noise intermixed? I've been told by Chinese teachers (including one who used to --and may still-- create questions for the HSK test) that even a Chinese person would need to take notes in order to answer all the questions correctly. What notes should one take was my question. I didn't get a good response (which is why i'll be looking for another class for this section). My gut feeling is that there are some patterns that are occasionally used that help in answering questions. I was also told that it's best to read the answers ahead of time to understand their meaning. My current experience with the questions is: I understand pretty much everything they say, but when it comes time to answer questions, I have no memory of the particular details. I'd imagine that doing spoken translation on the fly would be really really helpful for this test. Any suggestions here would be extremely appreciated.

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roddy

On reading - I agree it's all about the skimming and scanning. However you can't skim, find an answer and then assume you're done. I had one question, can't remember if it was a practice paper or the actual exam where it was something like "When did John arrive". Somewhere in the text was 'he started the 10 hour journey at 5pm' so you have your answer. Except somewhere else is 'the train was delayed for two hours . . .'

Not sure if that's exactly what it was, but the key is that you may need to pick up info from more than one place. What I try to do for this, and you're welcome to try it at your own risk, is to very quickly skim the piece to see what it's about and where the general chunks of info are - ok, first paragraph is talking about the company . . ok, second is how he started it . . .third is the takeover . . - so that when you come to read the questions you know where to home in on.

On listening - info I would try to jot down or recall in some way would be any numbers (God, they love their numbers), dates, times, and relationships (who is whose mother-in-law type stuff). I do not recommend you try to translate anything into English in your head as practice, just get used to doing input, processing and output all in Chinese. If you develop a translation habit (I've got one) you'll waste time, miss stuff, get flustered. If you want to do something similar, try listening something and then quickly rephrasing it into different Chinese.

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ChouDoufu

Thanks for your comments Roddy.

When I mentioned spoken translation, it was just because they have to understand long speeches and paragraphs while listening to someone speak all while taking notes. I don't plan on translating during listening, it's hard enough just listening in my opinion!! :)

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A life of study

I remember when taking A level French, the teacher had a list of grammatical structures I should try to include in any essay, eg at least one "past anterior", a few subjunctives, an apres avoir construction etc, so that the essay whatever the subject contained examples of most of the key grammatical constructions including difficult ones.

I am trying to devise a list of things that ought to be in a HSK advanced essay. I am thinking of constructions like 为...所... Has anyone got any ideas? Maybe if we all contribute one or two, we will have a decent list of things to include? Where can I get an Advanced HSK Grammar book - there seems to be no book listing the grammatical structures expected?

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roddy

I mention a book here which might be what you are looking for. Let us know if you find it though, as far as I know I have the only existing copy.*

*probably not, just trying to drive up the resale value.

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wushijiao

Anybody taking the exam this time around? On a whim yesterday, I decided to take it, and so I looked into details and signed up today.

What am I hoping for? Well, basically I hope to get a 10, score-wise. I’ve done the HSK five times, and sometime I prepare ok, and sometimes I prepare sloppily, but at the very least, I usually put a few good hours of hardcore studying in, and I work hard on things Chinese (books, magazines, podcasts…etc) fairly diligently in the weeks ahead of the test. In sum, the HSK is always a good motivator and I always learn a few tid bits here and there while getting ready for it.

I haven’t taken the test since the spring of 2007. And I think, roughly, that my odds are something like this:

Fail: 30%

9: 50%

10: 20%

Basically, although my listening is better than it was two years ago, and although I’ve read a lot in the meantime, I think I’ve lost a degree of “crispness” by living in HK (due to lack of overall Mandarin environment). My writing by hand has also deteriorated. So, in a sense, I’m more hopeful and more fearful than I was in the Spring of ’07.

Anyone else?

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heifeng

one day i will (p) own the HSK..but it won't be this spring:mrgreen:

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roddy

Thought about it, the idea of having to learn to write again in a month turned me off the idea. Good luck!

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roddy

Presumably it'd be easier this time round - last time was the October sitting of the Advanced in 2007, so 18 months give or take - but frankly it's spring and I've got better things to do. If the revised version is actually running (The HSK site has it for May) I may do the non-writey bits of that I guess.

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wushijiao

Ah…writing by hand….the great pleasure of the HSK Advanced. Every time I prepare, I’d estimate that 80% of my time is spent on learning and re-learning how to write by hand. This time will be the same, since it would be very helpful to get a B or above on the writing section.

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wushijiao

Well, I took the HSK高today (5/17/2009) (I thought it would be on April 18th, but this is an example of 一國兩制). Anyway, here are some brief thoughts:

Biggest surprise: the majority of the other test takers were native Cantonese speakers! :evil::conf

If I’m compared directly to them on the curve, I’d screwed! I hope my score gets mixed in with the April people (although this version was clearly different than the April one), or some other people.

Listening: I found this to be fairly easy, especially compared to when I took the test two years ago.

Reading: Same as listening.

綜合: I am (chose expletive here) terrible at this (I’ve got a 58, and 42 twice before on this). I will, without any question, be dragged down by this section! I just hope I got a 42 or above to maintain a 9 (getting below that would be really embarrassing, but not at all impossible for me!), or a 54 or above to get a 10.

Writing: Not too bad, although my handwriting is terrible.

Speaking: Also not terrible.

Overall, because I bombed the 綜合 I’d bet my money that I’d get a 9 (with an outside possibility of not passing at all, although if that were the case, I’d bet my total score would still be well into the 300’s). There’s a slight chance I could get a 10, and that path would almost certainly be: if I get a B on listening, reading, a C on綜合 , a C on writing, and a B or above on speaking. In any case, I ended up not putting in very much time directly studying for this, and so I might use the results to be a guide for understanding what to do next (ie. whether or not it's worth another run at a 10).

Although, a huge unknown factor is how they score this test. I’m almost certain that the competition in the room in HSK (ie. native speakers of Chinese with a few Japanese mixed in) are tougher than the hordes of Koreans who take it on the Mainland. So, I’m not exactly sure how this factor would play out.

One thing is for certain, if I take this again, I'll certainly go to Shenzhen so that I won't be taking a test along with people who have 20+ years of education experience using Chinese. (Even though my Putonghua listening and speaking might be better than some HKers, those were the two sections I am least worried about. I don't see how I won't get killed on the curves of reading and zonghe!)

Edited by wushijiao

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gato

Would they have a separate curve for each test location?

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wushijiao
Would they have a separate curve for each test location?

I don't know. Each non-Mainland test center determines its own time to conduct the test. So, I don't know if I will be scored based on the other eight people in the room, or the three test centers in HK combined, or with other test centers around the world combined, or also based on how previous larger testings did on the test (assuming it is an old test).

I don't know the secret sauce formula for how they do this.

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yueni

I finally just noticed this thread here. I took the 18 April Advanced HSK for the first time this year (also, my first ever HSK test), and finally got my scores yesterday.

I was initially going to sign up for the Intermediate HSK, but one of my classmates here advised me to "Go Big or Go Home", so the Advanced HSK it was. I took two months of a really excellent HSK class at Daesan Academy in the Xijiao Hotel right behind BLCU that was taught by a BNU instructor. I'm really glad I did, because I don't think I'd have known how to study for the HSK otherwise, especially the oral and the written portion.

When I took the test, I was surprised at how difficult the 听力 portion was, compared to the various practice tests I took and the practice/real exams I took while in the class. I think I still took the old version of the test, but the people on the recording spoke faster and less clearly than any of the practice tests I took. The 阅读 portion also surprised me at how difficult it was. This is usually the portion where I excel in, but I felt so rushed for time this time around that I barely grasped the meaning of each passage. I was really demoralised once I finished this portion.

The 综合 portion was a lot easier than I expected, but I made a bunch of careless mistakes (had a brain fart on a few things and couldn't figure out the correct answers until after I'd turned in that section), which dropped my score like a rock. This is one of the sections that I usually dread. I was not worried about the last two portions of the test.

I ended up with the following scores:

听力 65

阅读 61

综合 63

作文 71

口试 81

Total score put me at a 10, but because I had three Cs, I have a 9. On one hand, I'm really happy that I passed, because after taking the test, I was sure I failed. The 听力 & 阅读 portions were really demoralizing for me when I took it, which I guess really affected my confidence when I was taking the 综合 portion. The 口试 portion was my worst section in the HSK class, but the two topics that came up on it this time around (your ideal home and population aging) were pretty simple for me, I felt, particularly since I had written a research paper on population aging.

So overall, I'm happy with my 9. Don't think I want to spend another 400rmb to try for a 10 though I was tempted after I got my scores!

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magnusgren

This was the first time I took the HSK advanced. I've studied three years Chinese, the last two of which in China, and mainly wanted to test myself. I didn't do any preparation and and hoped just to pass, which I did, with a 9.

听力 65

阅读 57

综合 76

作文 58

口试 75

总分 331

During the test I felt things went, well, OK. The reading part certainly required speed though... Writing I might have been in too much a hurry, writing about 600 characters, and looking at the score I seem to have messed up quite a few. Next time I will limit myself to maybe 500 and be more careful getting them all right.

The spoken part was where I thought I failed, since after 4 minutes I ran out of things to say and simply dropped it all there, forgetting even to say the obligatory "huida wan le"... Seems it didnt matter too much.

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