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Hsk 5 exam was brutal


Mijin
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I recently took the hsk 5 exam; I was quite confident as I have several official confucius institute textbooks and listening materials and find them quite easy.

 

However, I did dreadfully on the exam, and although I don't know the result yet, I would estimate my score as between 30-40%.

 

So, it's in three parts: listening, reading and writing.

 

The listening part is very fast; each dialogue is just read once and at a quicker speed than the revision materials. I found it hard to maintain full concentration for the whole 45 minutes and just plain missed chunks of dialogue and had to make a guess several times.

 

I'm very confident in my reading ability, but it's the hardest part of the exam. The texts are stupidly long for the time you have to read them; it would be challenging doing this test in English. And, again, the vocab was significantly harder than the revision materials.

 

Finally the writing was fine. You're given ample time for this part. I tried to use a few different sentence structures so we'll see how strict the marking is for that part.

 

Overall I'm just really in shock. I had heard that levels 5 and 6 were supposed to have gotten easier but this is very far from my experience.

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I know you mean well but the advice did come across as a little patronizing to be honest. I have a lot of academic qualifications and just recently I also got a professional certification, with a score well above the requirement.

 

So in terms of HSK5, having followed the official Chinese test materials and passed the example papers comfortably, I think it is quite noteworthy if I then come nowhere near a pass on the real thing.

 

I'm not pouting about it though, I've resolved to simply adjust to the new reality and raise my Chinese level much higher.

 

But as far as I am concerned, the official HSK5 books are just generic textbooks at this point; they don't reflect the actual HSK5 exam level or content.

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Did you try to do practice tests before the real deal and if you did, did you use a timer to stop you once the time ran out in the reading section?
I have only done HSK4 once and I think doing the practice tests this way reflected the real deal very well. I'm wondering if the HSK5 is different somehow from the practice tests available online.

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Yep, I had the same experience when I took HSK 5 this past May. I naively walked in thinking that it would be a fun challenge; two hours later, I was convinced  that there was no way I'd passed. There were soooo many reading questions that I just skipped due to lack of time. (I'm a slow reader even in English.)  However, I ended up passing. You might have, too; don't give up hope.

 

But walking out of that exam room was definitely dispiriting. I think when I prep for HSK 6, I will probably train myself to skim texts, expose myself to a lot of native content, and brace myself for the pain.

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Thanks coffeepresto, I'll keep the faith.

 

BTW, I know "this year's test was much harder than the others" sounds like mere cognitive bias, but what I was trying to get at was the new HSK reforms.

 

AIUI the HSK reforms from 1-6 levels to 1-9 hasn't officially happened yet. However the information about this has been somewhat confusingly-stated in the official press releases, both the timeline and what the new content will be.

What I was trying to say with this thread (and I probably should have made this explicit), is that I suspect the content is already in the process of being changed and HSK5 at least appears a lot harder than previous years. It was an attempt at a "heads up".

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On 9/30/2021 at 2:38 PM, Mijin said:

AIUI the HSK reforms from 1-6 levels to 1-9 hasn't officially happened yet. However the information about this has been somewhat confusingly-stated in the official press releases, both the timeline and what the new content will be.

 

While they definitely did a poor job communicating when and what changes would be made to the HSK when they rolled out the new standards earlier this year, they did end up clearly stating that the current HSK 1-6 will remain unchanged for the next 3-5 years, and it will eventually be modified to reflect the new proficiency standards on a country-by-country basis.

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Sure, that's what I said.

I stated that I was aware that the latest official statement is that no changes have occurred yet.

 

So you're agreeing with the premise.

However my position after this was that since the information has changed several times at this point, I am suspicious that there has been some disruption to the HSK exam this year, especially with the notable bump in difficulty. Perhaps they were beginning to change some content before the most recent decision not to change this year came? Perhaps they are trialing some new styles of question? 

I don't know, I'm just trying to help the chinese learning community here by warning that the exam does not seem to comport with the past papers' difficulty and vocabulary.

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On 9/30/2021 at 2:11 PM, Mijin said:

The texts are stupidly long for the time you have to read them; it would be challenging doing this test in English.

I feel like this would be my downfall. If I'm not mistaken the average reading speed of Chinese speaker is around 250 cpm. At the moment studying around HSK 5 level I struggle so hard just to get my reading speed to 120 cpm :wallMy English reading speed is not great but I never had any issue reading subtitles and flashes of words on TV while doing it with Chinese is practically impossible for me at the moment so I know that my reading speed is way way below where it should be at HSK 5. 

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On 10/1/2021 at 10:49 AM, amytheorangutan said:

If I'm not mistaken the average reading speed of Chinese speaker is around 250 cpm

 

I don't know, but I suspect that it's much quicker than that even. 250 cpm would be only approximately 4 characters per second. That still wouldn't be fast enough to read all the subtitles on film and TV which are typically a whole sentence and just on screen for 3 seconds say.

 

Not to dishearten you, I'm just agreeing with how tough it is. That said, I personally find TV subtitles easier than the text in this exam, as they are everyday speech patterns; the main difficulty becomes keeping track of who's who :D

 

The test texts were more academic, formal writing.

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Just out of interest, what's your method for tackling the reading section?

 

Kudos to you if you've upped your reading speed such that you're trying to read the whole thing, but it's not a necessity, and I suspect isn't expected. Reading the questions/options first should give an idea of what you're looking for, at which point you can quickly skim to find matching characters and/or a matching thread. It'll save a lot of time compared to reading the entire thing.

 

I feel for you - it's a tough exam! That said, it'll make the taste of victory all the sweeter when you finally do crush it! Good luck for results day. 😊

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BTW On the topic of "who's who" this was another change between the revision materials and the actual exam, though this time a positive one:

 

< ETA: This relates to the Listening part of the exam >

 

In the past papers, it was important to keep track of the names of the people in the dialogue. Because the final question might be "小王的意见是什么?“ and the multiple-choice answers might include both party's opinions, so if you understood the actual exchange, but lost track of who's who, your answer became a toss up.

 

Now, I know some people will scoff at the idea of forgetting who's who, but imagine this: 30 English dialogues, where in every dialogue one person is named Stephen, and one named John. At some point you're going to think "Who was Stephen in this one?". Well, swap Stephen for 王 and John for 刘, and this is the problem I'm describing.

 

Accordingly, I came up with some mnemonic tricks to make the names of the people stick in my mind better.

 

However, this was not required in the exam at all. There were zero questions requiring you to remember who was who, the closest thing was e.g. "女的想去哪里?“

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On 10/1/2021 at 12:38 PM, Mijin said:

In the past papers, it was important to keep track of the names of the people in the dialogue. Because the final question might be "小王的意见是什么?“ and the multiple-choice answers might include both party's opinions, so if you understood the actual exchange, but lost track of who's who, your answer became a toss up.

 

Now, I know some people will scoff at the idea of forgetting who's who, but imagine this: 30 English dialogues, where in every dialogue one person is named Stephen, and one named John. At some point you're going to think "Who was Stephen in this one?". Well, swap Stephen for 王 and John for 刘, and this is the problem I'm describing.

 

I think asking such questions is just silly. 

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@Hijinks Yeah, I tried to read the questions and scan for the answers, but it was almost as though the texts were designed to make that difficult.

 

For example, the question might be "Why was he going to the shopping mall?", so you scan and find "超市" in the text, but it's within a rhetorical question. So you have to read the sentence before to correctly infer why he's actually going.

 

Like I say, really tough. I hope that when I get the result they also provide a copy of the paper and my answers. I would learn a lot from that, and it will confirm or refute whether the difficulty has really gone up (e.g. we can count the number of words that are actually HSK6, or not in HSK at all. All HSK5 exams will contain some such words, but how many is the question).

 

 

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On 10/1/2021 at 5:33 PM, Mijin said:

I hope that when I get the result they also provide a copy of the paper and my answers.

 

You won't get that. Only the scores.

 

女的想去哪里

As far I remember, this is the de facto way of presenting this question. I don't really remember any names in the questions.

 

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Here are multiple practice tests for each level for Listening, Reading and Writing.

https://mandarinbean.com/hsk-chinese-test-online/
 

 

for listening section the time's up when the recording ends.

For reading you'll need a timer to alert you when the time's up. For HSK5 it's 45 minutes.
Also if you want to know what you got wrong, these will list all your right and wrong answers after submitting the answers so you can study what you got wrong.

 

I take one of these every 6 months or so to gauge my progress against the HSK.

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On 10/2/2021 at 9:16 AM, Jellyfish said:

If you didn't take a single timed past exam at home before sitting HSK5 (to the point where you were surprised that in the listening part they only play the audio once) then I don't know how you can claim that your exam was harder than previous years' exams.

 

Hi Jellyfish, I think there is some misunderstanding here.

I have taken past HSK5 tests and I was aware that the audio would be played only once. That wasn't a thing I was saying was any different. 

I was saying that the content seemed harder to me, although I am aware that's a matter of opinion and I expected some people would disagree.

 

I haven't timed myself doing the practice tests so that's something I'm going to do now for sure.

 

I think the main unequivocal thing I want to say, is that the content in the official HSK books (e.g. this one), are nothing like as advanced as the actual HSK exam. In the books, the texts rarely stray outside of the HSK5 vocab, and the listening is slower and clearer.

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