Popular Post 艾墨本 Posted December 9, 2016 at 03:08 PM Popular Post Report Share Posted December 9, 2016 at 03:08 PM I took the HSK 5 last weekend in Lanzhou on December 4th, 2016. To my surprise, I found the study process to get ready for the exam both rewarding and educational. Quantitatively, I learned 400 new words (over 50 hours of Anki), completed seven practice exams, and studied roughly three to four hours per day for the month prior to the exam. I say it was a surprise that it was rewarding and educational because prior to the exam I had always written it off as a test that more-so tests my ability to take a test rather than my Chinese ability. I did, however, spend a significant time just learning how to take the test. At times, this was frustrating. I hated having to learn to skim for answers rather than read and be tested on my comprehension -- but not I'm finding my reading speed is faster and I can more easily skim a text, which is a valuable skill in and of itself. I also hated some of the logic in the questions, like two people discussing living together, one male and one female, which obviously implied they weren't friends but lovers. And yet, looking back, that is the same logic I see my students employ, regularly. The writing section, though, was likely my favorite. It was the biggest challenge, but it finally gave me a reason to practice writing. Being somewhat of a writer in English, it was a skill I'd never manage to transfer to this new language. I still haven't, but now I'm one step closer. I liked the first writing part where I needed to reorganize the words because it forced me to recognize the many errors in my current Chinese grammar, mostly the placement of simple words that I thought I had down, already. I also learned several new grammar patterns from them. The second part that had me look at pictures and write about 80 characters was challenging for a whole other reason--restricting my writing to a mere 80 characters. Previously, teachers had always applauded me for writing extra, but a side-effect of this has been that I was not economical in my word usage, nor was I very clear in my logic. I supplemented both with extra phrases and paragraphs, asking my reader to pull my meaning out of the extra content. The 80-character limit demanded I think fully through from beginning to end. Furthermore, the part that provided me with several words for which I needed to create a full idea with, in 80 characters, give or take, pushed me to take the time to actually practice writing sentences with the grammar patterns I know but never use. Previously, I would do the whole "I know it when I see or hear it, therefore I know it" fallacy. The wake-up call was when 即使 was one of the words, a word I considered I knew and quickly found I didn't. The fear of that happening on the test pushed me to practice writing sentences with all the different grammar patterns I learned. Though, my girlfriend is very tired of correcting my sentences, now. In order to learn the vocabulary, I put the HSK vocab list into Chinese Text Analyser and went through the whole list. If I had even a moment's doubt, I would not mark it as known. Then I exported all words up to HSK5 that I didn't know and put them in Anki. Then, after filling in the blanks with Pinyin Toolkit, I would study them religiously (40 new and all reviews). I would choose less sleep over missing a day. When I ran into a word I really didn’t know, then I’d add a sentence from Jukuu, Zhonga, or Pleco. The process of finding the sentence(s) helped deepen my understanding of the word. I’d also aim for a sentence that included a good grammar pattern or another word I wanted to practice. When I studied them, I always wrote down the word and sometimes I’d also write down the sentence. Even better was if I could remember the sentence before I even flipped the card. Having stock sentences for a lot of vocabulary helped me a lot on the writing part. Throughout the month, I studied a practice test once a week or so. This was a constant reminder that I wasn’t perfect and there was still a lot to be learned. I didn’t do what many friends did and try to learn any words they didn’t know on the practice test. Instead, I just stuck to learning the 400 I’d already added to Anki (it’s good to have limits). I finished learning all the new words one week before the test. I did this intentionally and had set my daily, new-words limit accordingly. I spent the last week doing as many practice tests as time allowed. The last tool I used was Audacity. I put the audio file for the listening section in it and “Truncated Silence” (under the effect menu) to remove the pauses. I also cut out the intro. Then I put them on my phone and listened to them whenever I had time. I’d also try to repeat what the man said whenever he spoke. During the practice tests, I scored a pretty consistent 37ish/45 for both the listening and reading sections. I would always write question marks next to questions I wasn’t sure about when I wrote the answers. This let me know that the spots where I “felt” confused at were often where I was actually confused. The feedback loop was helpful and helped teach me to gauge my own knowledge. Based on that, I’m confident that I did better than any practice test I took. Lastly, I decided on the written form. The audio section was played over a loudspeaker in the whole room. No headphones. But, the test booklet included all three sections. So, once we were done with the listening section, during the 5-minute break to ensure all boxes were filled in, I could move on to the reading section. Additionally, after I finished the writing section early, I could go back to the reading section and double check some answers that I marked. All this said and done, while I went into the HSK 5 test prep process as a skeptic, I'm leaving as a believer. I recognize that it does have its failures, but preparing for it was a boon for my Chinese. It pushed me to study more and recognize the holes in my current Chinese ability, while simultaneously motivating me to fill them. My biggest take-away, though, was that the HSK should not be my sole goal. I will continue reading, studying and living the language and after maybe another year I will switch into HSK-mode and focus on learning the HSK 6 vocabulary and grammar. EDIT: The book I used that includes answer keys, explanations for every question, transcripts for the audio sections, and a sample answer to every essay question https://world.tmall.com/item/524202182648.htm#detail? The links I used for HSK test info http://www.chinesetest.cn/goKdInfoOrPlan.do?zhou=1&guo=1&kdname_name=%E5%85%B0%E5%A4%A7&kdType=0&xm=0&km=0&yf=0 http://www.china.org.cn/english/MATERIAL/105469.htm http://confuciusinstitute.asu.edu/files/application/HSK.pdf http://www.chineseathome.com/index.php?option=com_content&id=355%3Ahsk-idioms-list&catid=66%3Ahsk&Itemid=202〈=en https://www.umb.edu/confucius/tests/hskk 18 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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