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Hsk 5 exam was brutal


Mijin
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For someone *just trying to help the community* you sure are reacting defensively to any poster offering reasons why you experienced such difficulty lol.

 

 

 

Before I took 2 & 4, I went through all related HSK 课本, 练习册 and then went on to the online 模拟考试. I also found a noticeable spike in difficulty when making the transition. The format of the test, the timing, the interface, even the somewhat blurry 汉子 fonts; add them all together and it becomes something completely new you need to prep for. 加油👌

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On 10/3/2021 at 1:25 PM, 道艺 said:

For someone *just trying to help the community* you sure are reacting defensively to any poster offering reasons why you experienced such difficulty lol.

If it's coming across that way, that's not the intention. I'm happy to receive advice and have thanked people.

But some of the advice was not applicable and I was just explaining that. The latter is not being defensive.

 

The only post which I did maybe react defensively towards was the first response, which did come across to me as somewhat condescending (but on reflection, the fact that I expressed a degree of overconfidence in the OP probably invited such a response).

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On 10/2/2021 at 12:19 PM, Mijin said:

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

Best idea. 

 

Timing is everything. And with HSK and most exams, timing is probably AS important as the actual content you are dealing with. I've practised IELTS for teaching purposes, and it's so important. 

 

I've only done 1 2 and 3, so I am way way below your level, but things seems pretty consistent in the tests. I can pass the HSK4 reading without a timer! With a timer and listening and writing, all in an hour or 2, is off the scale for me, right now! 😄

 

 

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On 10/2/2021 at 7:19 PM, Mijin said:

In the books, the texts rarely stray outside of the HSK5 vocab,

 

Many of the chapters in the HSK 5上/下 textbooks have 生词 in the chapter's list with 25% (or even more) of words that are not in the official vocab lists. 

 

I wouldn't count this as "rarely". It seems they want you to cope with encountering unknown words much better by the time you get to level 5.

 

They also provide another list of about a dozen words towards the end of each chapter where they give you the pinyin, but not a translation... so you're either trying to deduce what these words mean (a useful exercise), or looking them up yourself.  This also feels like a rather contrived way of stuffing in all the many extra words you need for HSK 5... for example: here is a chapter all about playing Chess and how that can be a metaphor for life... but just as a PS: here's a bunch of vocab about cutlery and furniture.

 

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On 10/4/2021 at 3:54 PM, mungouk said:

I wouldn't count this as "rarely". It seems they want you to cope with encountering unknown words much better by the time you get to level 5.

 

Obviously it's necessary to be able to cope with some degree of unknown words. At every level. I wouldn't expect to necessarily know 100% in an exam.

It was just a relative observation, and "cope with" is relative too. It's obviously harder to cope with a text with many more advanced words than another.

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On 10/7/2021 at 12:17 AM, 7800 said:

When you get your results, you should also receive the average score of everyone that took that same test. You can use that to see if it was indeed harder than it usually is.

I liked this part of the scoring, personallly! 

 

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On 10/7/2021 at 7:17 AM, 7800 said:

you should also receive the average score of everyone that took that same test. You can use that to see if it was indeed harder than it usually is.

 

How would that work?  Wouldn't you also need data from a bunch of previous tests to compare it with? (The "usually" bit.)

 

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Good question @mungouk - since as I said I also took HSK5 this year, I thought I'd investigate to see how much data you can get about average test scores. Turns out you can get average scores for this test, this year (I took the test on 5th June, so that'd be January-June 2021) and going back 12 months. So that should give you a bit of an idea whether the test did get harder - if, say, the 12 month average score is higher than the January-June average score which in turn is higher than the 6th June average score.

 

I'll take one for the team and publish all of these averages (my own scores blacked out so as not to reveal my bad reading skills):

 

Global, past 12 months:

image.thumb.png.4e9488205603fde23e6d878ef1d959e1.png

 

Global, this year (January-June 2021):

image.thumb.png.a5e5e72d6cdebdd087d50d8809055ee9.png

 

Global, 5th June:

image.thumb.png.c2d8e90c13764cd787dadf53f8d21dbb.png

 

So, the lowest total average by a very small margin was actually the 12 month average, which suggests that tests were a tiny bit harder 12 months ago than they were on my test date. The average score for reading was pretty awful on my test date (but I am partially to blame for that heh). Listening was a lot better on my test date than it was for the other periods.

 

Overall I'd say, not much had changed in terms of numbers in June, which confirms the subjective impression I had when I took it. If it really did get harder, then that would have happened between 5th June and whenever  @Mijin's test was. Mijin, if you don't mind, maybe you can post your average scores (well, the global ones, not your own obviously) to compare with the ones I've posted here when you get your results? That way we'd get a slightly better idea on whether the level of difficulty really is changing already.

 

 

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Hmmm... whether a test is "harder" (which is subjective and individual) isn't quite the same as whether people scored lower though, is it? 

 

There are many reasons why scores could vary from test to test.

 

Ultimately I suspect that if anyone finds a particular test much harder than they expected, then they just needed to prepare more. I don't see more in it than that really.

 

 

 

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Well to be clear as well, my main observation in the OP was that the exam was significantly more difficult than the official HSK materials. It does also seem to me that my exam was harder than the practice tests that I did too, but that wasn't the main thrust of this thread.

 

I guess what I was trying to say is: Don't look at a HSK4 book, say, and think you should target HSK4 exam because you found it easy going. Because the exams and those materials seem a whole different kettle of fish in terms of the size of the texts, vocabulary used and speed of the listening section.

 

If people want to disagree with me, that's fine, but if so, are you disagreeing with that observation?

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On 10/8/2021 at 12:18 AM, Mijin said:

the exam was significantly more difficult than the official HSK materials

 

I think you also said you hadn't done timed practice exams as part of the preparation? 

 

I'm not trying to be picky here, but I do think most of us would agree that this is a key part of the preparation for the HSK exams: timing in particular is absolutely crucial, especially the reading part.  You really do have to focus on exam technique a hell of a lot, rather than just "knowing the stuff". 

 

The textbooks only give you the vocab and the grammar. (And the writing and listening practices if you do those...).  The Workbooks are also very useful, especially since the chapters are correlated with the textbook chapters, and so build up gradually to some extent. 

 

And then the practice exams after that.  The online ones are useful because they enforce the timing.

 

I empathise entirely with your unpleasant experience of the exam; for the benefit of every HSK student I think it's useful for us all to understand what the preparation for the exams really entails. I think it's an unfortunate fact of life that doing well in an exam requires "training" for that exam, perhaps even more so that actually learning the language in a general sense. 

 

(There's a similar debate going on at the moment in ESL circles about what TOEFL actually tests, etc.)

 

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Well fair enough, and if the lesson of this thread is just "Do timed practice" then hopefully we have given some people a useful warning with this thread. It's a lesson I have had to learn the hard way.

 

I guess I'm just feeling a bit sensitive because some responses seem to be like "You need to prep for exams, duh!" when I have sat many exams in my lifetime. I have a BSc, MSc, many professional qualifications etc. I'm familiar with exam prep. And the bait and switch between official prep materials and the actual exam seemed atypical to me.

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On 10/7/2021 at 7:39 PM, Mijin said:

I have a BSc, MSc, many professional qualifications etc. I'm familiar with exam prep. And the bait and switch between official prep materials and the actual exam seemed atypical to me.

 

I'm guessing you've sat those tests in the west. I'd argue that the HSK type tests may very well be the typical type in Asia. 😅
I only have experience taking JLPT N2 years ago and HSK4 a year ago and I've heard about what the tests are like for school kids in Japan and China from some people. HSK had no surprises for me at least. It does feel a lot more like testing test taking skills instead of the actual language skills, but that's just how they roll in that part of the world.

 

To be fair, they give that test to a lot of people and multiple choice questions etc are easy to score.

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Well I got my result just a few minutes ago, and I have to eat both my hat and a serving of humble pie because:

 

1) I passed :)

2) The average scores appear way up on previous years

 

Well, I was right about one thing: I performed worst on the reading section, despite reading being the thing I am most comfortable with compared to speaking, listening and writing. 

 

BTW, now I've passed it starts to look like this thread was a whole stealth brag or something, but I assure you it wasn't. When I just logged on to chinesetest.cn I genuinely was still expecting a score of around 30%.

hsk5 result edited.png

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