Use this tool to add tone marks to pinyin or to convert tone number (e.g. hao3) to tone marks.

Although you can use the red buttons to add tone marks, we highly recommend you use the number method (e.g. hao3) for speed and placement of the accent above the correct vowel. [Hint: Type "v" for "ü"]
Note: You do not need to use this tool to enter pinyin in this dictionary.

Want to know how to take an HSK test? Here are 9 Tips!

speaking chinese china edit

Can you speak Chinese? Prove it! If you want to get certified for your Mandarin language skills, check out this article about the Chinese proficiency test, also known as the HSK Test.

1. What is the HSK Test?

HSK stands for:

Hanyu = 汉语 (han4yu3) which means “Chinese language”
Shuiping = 水平 (shui3ping2) which means “level (of achievement etc)”
Kaoshi = 考试 (kao3shi4) which means “exam”

The HSK test was launched by Hanban, otherwise knows as the Confucius Institute Headquarters which is an institution that is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education. The purpose of the test is to measure a person’s proficiency in Mandarin, through a series of sections that focus on listening comprehension, speaking, and writing.


2. Why do I need to take the HSK?

When studying Chinese, sometimes it’s difficult to see improvements. You may feel like you are treading water or even sometimes sliding backward. Having a goal, such as taking the HSK, helps to give your Chinese studies a purpose. You’ll get a sense of accomplishment when you earn your certificate as well as proof that indeed you are making progress.

In addition to giving you attainable study goals, having an HSK certificate also serve several added purposes:

  • Save yourself time and credits! Your university or college might allow you to skip through certain language requirements if you attain an HSK.
  • Stand out from the crowd! As it’s a very global world out there, employers and educational institutions now pay more attention to your language skills when recruiting.
  • Accurately know your level! If you begin taking Chinese classes at a new institution, it will be easier to select a proper level based off of your HSK achievements. This will ensure that you don’t waste time in your studies and will help you find other learners who are at the same level.

3. How do I know what level of HSK I should be studying for?

You don’t need to take the HSK tests in order. If you have already been studying Chinese for a while, you could jump directly into HSK Level 3. If you have a Chinese teacher, he or she can help you determine your HSK level. If you are self-taught, we have provided a resource to evaluate your level below.

The HSK is divided into 2 sections: The HSK Written Exam and the HSKK Oral Exam. (the second “K” in the HSKK stands for 口语 (kou3yu3) which means “spoken language”).

The HSK Written Exam has 6 levels while the HSKK Oral Exam has 3 levels. The oral tests are taken separately from the written exams, and these 2 tests do not need to be taken at the same time. You will receive a separate certificate for completing the oral than for completing the written. You only need to take one oral exam, per every 2 written exams.

For example, if you want to take the HSK level 2 test, you could take the HSKK Beginner oral exam. You could also take the HSKK Beginner test when you take the HSK level 1 test. You can see how the HSK and HSKK correspond in the chart below:

In the links provided, you can find the test content introduction and download mock tests.

To get PDF vocabulary lists you can go to the HSK Test Vocabulary Lists page and download them. You can also find free flashcard sets for HSK levels 1-6 in the free WCC Dictionary mobile app!

HSK Written TestDetailsHSKK Oral TestDetails
HSK Level 1LinkHSKK BeginnerLink
HSK Level 2Link
HSK Level 3LinkHSKK IntermediateLink
HSK Level 4Link
HSK Level 5LinkHSKK AdvancedLink
HSK Level 6Link

Evaluating Your Chinese Level without a Chinese Teacher

If you’d like to find out which level you fit into, here is a self-assessment tool that you can use without a teacher. The tool included abbreviated mock exam for all 6 levels of the HSK written exam as well as for all 3 levels of the HSKK oral exam. You can use these test results to get your approximate exam level.

Check out the HSK evaluation test here: Hanban HSK Self-Assessment.

Remember that if you have never taken the HSK before, you can still jump directly into the appropriate level. There is no need to take the levels in order. Your employer or school will only pay attention to the highest level that you have attained.

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4. How can I take the HSK?

There are two ways that the HSK Written Tests are administered – in person or online in a testing center. Both methods have their pros and cons. For example, taking the test online lets you be laxer with your writing skills, as you will be able to use the Pinyin input method. Whereas taking the paper test is more convenient for the timing in the listening section of the exam because you must answer the questions one by one as they are given to you. So if you answer question #16 very quickly, you still must wait until the system gives you question #17. Also, you can’t copy and paste in the online test, so if you’re not clear of the Pinyin, there’s no way to copy the character from the question. In the end, it’s a matter of preference.

There will be no difference in your HSK certificate if you have taken the paper test or the online test. In fact in the future, Hanban plans to remove all of the paper exams because the online tests are much more convenient for the testing centers and for evaluation.

Whether you take the paper test or the online test, you can use the HSK official online registration to register for the tests – it’s really convenient and won’t take you long.

Get HSK test dates here and don’t miss the deadline for registration. Online payment is possible with Union Pay if you’re applying inside of China. Once you have selected your exam date you can select the Online Payment option on the Test Options page. If you are outside of China payments online may not be available but you can pay in cash at your chosen test center.

5. When and where can I find out my HSK Test results?

After 1 month you can log in to your account at and enter your registration code to access your results.
The test results are also available within 2 months of taking the exam at the test center in which you took your exam. To get your results you will need your test admission slip. You can also use the following chart to determine when you will be able to get your exam results here.

The test results dates are on HSK official website.

6. How can I get my HSK Test certificate?

The test center where you have taken the test will provide you with all the information you need to know about obtaining your certificate. Often they will be mailed to you or you can pick them up once the results are published. As each testing center may have a different policy, it’s best to find out directly from them about what you need to do to get your certificate. In general, it should be a relatively painless process and shouldn’t cost much other than the shipping, if necessary.

hsk certificate small

7. For how long is my HSK certificate valid?

Good news! The HSK certificate is valid indefinitely for use when applying for jobs. For academic purposes, however, such as for receiving credits for Chinese courses, it is typically valid for only two years from the date that the exam was taken. This is also relevant if you’re applying for a Chinese university. If that’s the case, make sure you have taken the HSK within the past 2 years prior to applying.

Tip: When applying for international positions, many employers may not be familiar with the HSK system. It would be to your advantage when listing your HSK achievement on your resume to add that is is an Official Chinese Proficiency test, that ranges from levels 1-6. They will then have a better understanding of how awesome your Chinese is!

8. What is the “new” HSK test?

The story of the “new” HSK test is quite an interesting one. As the HSK has been the only recognized standard of Mandarin proficiency, it’s a good money-maker from textbooks, to testing centers, to course materials. Having control of the HSK market can bring in some serious dough, so in 2005 this test became a hot topic between Hanban and the Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU). Eventually, this resulted in a division of who would test the HSK. Hanban would be the presence abroad, where BLCU would do the testing within China.

Hanban worked hard to improve the test, combining some of the good characteristics of the original HSK and updating by conducting surveys and listening to the results.

In 2010, it was decided that Hanban had better testing methods and their presence came back to China. The test that is administered in China today is from Hanban and because it differs from how the test was administered during the BLCU reign, it is sometimes called the “new” HSK exam.

In a nutshell, the “new” HSK is usually said to be easier than the old HSK, as it uses more colloquial words and expressions, and is overall more practical. You get a break as well on vocabulary when taking the “new” HSK as the old one makes you learn nearly double the vocabulary for every level.

9. Top Recommended HSK Resources



HSK Flashcards
Chinese Flash Cards Kit Volume 1: HSK Levels 1 & 2 Elementary Level: Characters 1-349 (Audio Disc Included)
Chinese Flash Cards Kit Volume 2: HSK Levels 3 & 4 Intermediate Level: Characters 350-622 (Audio CD Included)
Chinese Flash Cards Kit Volume 3: HSK Upper Intermediate Level (Audio CD Included)
HSK Mock Tests and Practice
Click here for previous tests, outline and vocabulary
Practice Tests and vocabulary
Questions samples and Testing Locations
Study Guides and Sample Tests
HSK Practice Tests and MP3 downloads
HSK Vocabulary
HSK Vocabulary
Additional HSK Resources
ChinesePod Library of Online Chinese Audio Lessons, test.
iKnow Language Learning.


If you have any questions or queries about taking an HSK exam or about learning Chinese you can comment below or email us at [email protected]

Facebook Comments

  • MadDog says:

    I just dont understand why are written and oral exams separated

    • Hollie Sowden says:

      You can still get a certification if you only take the written exam. But I think many language examinations are this way in that listening, written and spoken examinations are separated.

      • MadDog says:

        I know, I have HSK4…but maybe the “cambridge system” would be better…thats my opinion

        • Chamcen Liu says:

          haha, in Chinese, they always do like this in language tests, it’s Chinese mindset. when I was a student in my high school, our teacher paid much more attention to writing and listening, because of the test mode. So when I went to University and took CET4 (a English test as HSK in China) , the written test and oral test is also separated. But in fact, I agree with you, for language learning, writing, listening and speaking are all important.

    • Anup Pokhrel says:

      We can read and understand without uttering a word.

  • […] gets you down or you feel like your studies have come to a stand still. Many people aim towards an HSK exam, but this isn’t for everyone. Setting personal goals means you’re probably more likely to […]

  • […] actually only applied for the test as research for our previous HSK post. I’ve never been a fan of exams, even when the result is a shiny certificate and resume content, […]

  • carl guymer says:

    Thank you once again.I have “bitten the bullet” and enrolled with a Chinese school.I am doing my learning now using native teachers on Skype, so I hope in several months to be up to doing these exams!

  • Hager Maria says:

    I downloaded the Vocabulary-Lists HSK 1 – 4, but both HSK 1 and 2 have 150 characters, HSK 3 has 300, and HSK 4 has 600. As far as I know, HSK 2 should have 300, HSK 3 should have 600, and HSK 4 should have 1200…

    • Nora Joy Wilson says:

      Hi there, let me clarify this for you. The HSK test adds the vocabulary from the previous level to give you the full list. HSK 1 has 150 words and HSK 2 has 150 new words, so altogether HSK 2 has 300 words. The lists you have downloaded have the new words for each level. Happy studying!

  • Chinabob says:

    As a lazy student who’s been here for so many years my Chinese is still not great. I can speak and get by without a problem, I’ve gone as far as sitting a panel interview with 9 guys on the other side of the table all in Chinese but it was still in a subject I knew well. When we start getting abstract I get lost. Business meetings I get lost.
    I even went through a time when I was trying to read and write and got myself up to about 700 characters 400 WORDS but I had learned both the simplified and HK styles so it was about 700 characters. But I have since lost most of them 🙁
    Now, thanks to you two ladies you’ve re-energized me! I’ve set my mind to get myself through these HSK tests and prove my abilities! Thanks!

    • Nora Joy Wilson says:

      Yay! And look out for the new version of our free app this summer. It’s packed with a bunch of new tools to help you set learning goals and track your progress. Find the current version here:

  • Anup Pokhrel says:


  • […] You can find out more information about taking an HSK exam here. […]

  • […] You can learn more about taking an HSK test in our article. […]

  • […] You can learn more about taking an HSK test in our article. […]

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