new-chinese-hsk-exam-preparation-sample-questions

A Down and Dirty Look at 57 Sample HSK Questions

(Note: This is Part 2 of our five part series on preparing for the HSK Exam. For a list of all parts, visit our Insider’s Guide to Acing the HSK Exam here.)

A foreword

Welcome to part two of this guide! In part one, we previously discussed all the major reasons why you might want to take the HSK.

In part two, for every subsection of every level, you’ll see an example that best demonstrates each question type, coupled with question specific tips to help you ace each question.

Enjoy!
 


 

HSK Level 1

Listening

Section 1

Level 1 (5 questions)

You’ll be played a short phrase, and based on what you hear, you need to determine whether the picture on the test paper is right or wrong.

Example

It might say “报纸(newspaper)”, and show a picture of a book. You cross it since it’s not what was said.

Exam tip

The words tested in this section are usually words that have close meanings. But if you pay attention, it’s pretty straightforward, since all recordings in Levels 1 and 2 are played twice.

Section 2

Level 1 (5 questions)

You’re played a sentence, and you choose the corresponding photo based on what you hear.

Example

You hear 苹果, or apple. Between a choice of books, a phone and an apple, you tick the apple picture on the test paper.

Section 3

Level 1 (5 questions)

You’re played a brief, usually two-lined, conversation, and based on that, you match what you hear with a picture.

Example

You hear “你好!你好,很高兴认识你!Hi! Hi, nice to meet you!”

A Two people greeting each other B A watermelon C A home D A girl sleeping E Attending a class

Answer: A

Exam tip

In this section, you really want to pay attention to key words. For instance, the example above, the key word is 认识 (meet). Get this word, and you’ll get the answer.

Section 4

Level 1 (5 questions)

You’re played a sentence. And then you’re asked a question. On the test paper, you have to tick the right answer.

Example

我有点不舒服。我星期五去医院看病。我星期几看病?

I’m not feeling so well. I’m going to the hospital on Friday. When am I going to visit the hospital?

And you choose Friday as the answer.

Exam tip

In this level, there’s usually nothing tricky to the question. So the key is simply to understand everything in the recording, and answer the question. This is an example of a place where you do need regular listening practice to prepare for the exam.

Reading

Exam Tip

Exam tip

Because the questions are relatively straightforward, I’ll start this section off with a quick exam tip. Reading in this level isn’t so much about understanding as it is about speed. To counter that, I recommend you pay attention to two things: nouns and verbs. If you identify key nouns and verbs for each question, you’ll do very well for this section.

Section 1

Level 1 (5 questions)

You’re presented five pictures, next to which is a word. You have to determine whether the two match.

Example

You’re shown: Picture of laptop

The word you’re given: 水果 (fruit)

This is obviously a mismatch, so you cross it.

Section 2

Level 1 (5 questions)

You’re presented with five pictures and five sentences. You have to match them.

Example

A Two students B Cup of coffee C Train D Man sleeping E Surgeon

他在睡覺呢。He’s sleeping.

Answer: D

Section 3

Level 1 (5 questions)

You’re presented with five questions and answers. You have to match them.

Example

A 中國人 B 7點了 C 蘋果 D 20塊 E 好的,謝謝!

(A Chinese, B It’s seven, C Apple, D 20 bucks, E OK, thanks!)

你喝水嗎?

Answer: E

Section 4

Level 1 (5 questions)

You’re presented with five questions and blanks. You have to fill in the blanks with the most appropriate answer from the given choices.

Example

A 家 B 火車站 C 對不起 D 名字 E 看見

(A: Home, B: Train station, C: Sorry, D: Name; E: See)

你叫什麼()?

What’s your ()?

Answer: D

HSK Level 2

Listening

Exam tip

As with Level 1, the most important thing is this – pay attention to key nouns and verbs. If you identify these, the answer’s as good as yours.

Section 1

Level 2 (10 questions)

Level 2 is same as Level 1 except with more questions.

Section 2

Level 2 (10 questions)

You hear a short dialogue, and you tick the picture that fits the most.

Example

男:你 喜欢 什么 运动 ? What sports do you like?

女: 我 最 喜欢 踢 足球 。 I like to play football.

(These are all pictures, I’m just describing them for convenience.)

A A girl B A book C A clock D Person playing football E A tired person

Answer: D

Section 3

Level 2 (10 questions)

Level 2’s dialogues are a little longer, but the difficulty is about the same as Level 1.

Example

男:小 王 ,这里有几个杯子,哪个是你的?

Xiao Wang, there are a few cups here, which one’s yours?

女: 左边 那个 红色 的 是 我 的 。

The red one on the left is mine.

问: 小 王 的 杯子 是 什么 颜色 的 ?

What colour is Xiao Wang’s cup?

A 紅色 B 黑色 C 白色

A Red B Black C White

Answer: A

Section 4

Level 2 (5 questions)

Similar to Section 3, but the meaning isn’t as straightforward here. Difficulty is ever so slightly higher.

女:请 在这儿写您的 名字。 Please write your name here.

男: 是 这儿 吗 ? Here?

女: 不 是 , 是 这儿 。 No, here.

男: 好 ,谢谢。 Okay, thanks.

问: 男 的 要 写 什么 ? What does the man have to write?

A 名字 B 時間 C 房間號

(Name, time, room number)

Answer: A

Reading

Section 1

Level 2 (5 questions)

In Level 2, you’re presented with five pictures and sentences, which you have to match.

Section 2

Level 2 (5 questions)

You’re presented with five sentences and blanks, which are give as multiple choice answers.

Example

我刚刚运动完,()非常累。- I just exercised, () very tired.

A 现在(now) B 便宜 (cheap) C 理想 (ideal)

Answer: A

Section 3

Level 2 (5 questions)

You’re presented with a sentence, and then a second sentence. You have to determine whether the second sentence corresponds to the first sentence’s meaning.

Example

妹妹现在上班了,每天都很忙,所以玩儿的时间很少。

Sister is now working, she’s busy everyday, so she has little time to play.

妹妹工作很忙。

Sister is busy at work.

Answer: You’d tick it because the second sentence’s meaning is implied in the first.

Exam tip

Make sure to read both sentences clearly. No shortcuts for this one, I’m afraid – you have to understand both to come up with the answer.

Section 4

Level 2 (10 questions)

You’re presented with 10 sentences and 10 choices – you have to match the two which are the most coherent.

A 他们两个人在问路。 They’re asking for directions.

B 上班 的时候,他觉得很累。 At work, he felt tired.

C 太好了,我们 明天就去买。 That’s great! We’ll buy it tomorrow.

D 你看,她叫 王 小雨。 Look, she’s called Wang Xiao Yu.

E 他在哪儿呢?你看见他了吗? Where is he? Have you seen him?

他 还 在 教室 里 学习 。

He’s still studying in the classroom.

Answer: E

HSKK 初级, Beginner

Section 1

Section 1 (15 questions, 7 seconds each)

Repeat each sentence.

Example

一年有十二个月。A year has twelve months.

Exam tip

Pronunciation is very important. There are two things here – pinyin and tone. Pinyin is usually the easier bit – it’s the tones you want to pay attention to. But if you simply copy what you hear, and because the phrases are so short, there’s nothing to worry about.

Section 2

Section 2 (10 questions, 10 seconds each)

Answer each question.

Example

你去中国旅游过吗?Have you visited China before?

Exam tip

As you can see, these questions are insanely easy. Because of that, you’ll notice that you’re only given 10 seconds to answer, so do not answer more than you need. For instance, an appropriate answer for the example question is simply “没有” (no). The question doesn’t require you to elaborate, and I suggest that you don’t either.

Section 3

Section 3 (2 questions, 1.5 minutes each)

Provide longer answers for each question.

Example

请介绍一下你的一位好朋友。Please describe a good friend of yours.

Sample answer

我想介绍的好朋友是小明。我念小学的时候认识小明的。因为我们也是邻居,所以我们从小就一起玩,成为很好的朋友。他的生日跟我同年同日,所以跟我一样大。我们也有很多共同的爱好,比如,打网球、听流行音乐、看日本动画等等。接下来我形容一下小明的性格。他是一个非常坚强的人,很会克服很多生活的难题。他平时为人善良,善于交际,喜欢开玩笑,所以在学校很受欢迎。但是,他有时候也很固执,什么情况都会坚守他的原则。

Exam tip

In this part, it’s important to keep things simple. One mistake people often make is that they’re often too good at their native language. If you’re not used to thinking in Chinese, you’ll end up thinking in your native language, and that means you’ll constantly be trying to express things which you don’t know how to say in Chinese.

Also, it’s important to answer the question. For instance, the above question asks you to describe your friend, and if you start to describe a memory you have together, that would be going off on a tangent.

Instead, by keeping it simple, and relevant, you’d be much better off simply describing physical characteristics and personality, and that 1.5 minutes will pass easily.

To stress the importance of this, I’ll throw in another example.

If you’re asked “醫生這個工作怎麼樣?為什麼?” (How’s being a doctor like? Why), answering ”我不喜歡做醫生,因為我很怕血” (I don’t want to be a doctor, because I’m afraid of blood.), or “我認為做醫生很困難,因為需要讀很多書才可以當醫生” (I think it’s tough to be a doctor because you have to study loads to be a doctor) would be wrong because you’re effectively not answering the question.

A better answer might be “我認為做醫生是一個很有意思的工作,因為醫生每一天都可以醫治病人,拯救性命,改善我們的生活,對社會做出貢獻” (I think being a doctor is a meaningful job, because everyday, doctors get to treat patients, rescue lives, bettering our lives, making a contribution to society.) – that would be a more appropriate fit to the question.

In addition, don’t be fooled by the illusion of time. That 1.5 minutes sounds long, but you’ll be surprised at how quick it passes. At the end of the day, you’ll probably have more to say and feel you don’t have enough time. So make sure to keep your answers simple and use that time well.

HSK Level 3

Listening

Exam Tips

Unlike Levels 1 and 2, recordings are played once – so be at full throttle for all questions – it’s all or nothing!

The key skill in this segment is to be able to identify key verbs and adjectives. I already mentioned this in the previous levels, but the component isn’t as prominent there, and I’d place a greater emphasis on adjectives.

When practicing your listening, make it a habit to jot down (in your native language if you prefer) the key words you hear.

For instance, in this following dialogue:

男:今天穿得很正式啊,有什么事吗? You’re dressing very formally today, what’s up?

女:下午的会议邀请了几个外国人,我的任务是翻译。 We invited a few foreigners, I’m the translator.

男:明白了,是那几个校长吧?你们这是国际会议啊。 I get it, it’s those principals right? So you guys are the international conference.

女:完全正确。 Correct

问:女的打扮得怎么样? How was the female dressed?

The keywords I’d jot down would be 穿 (wear), 正式 (formal), 翻譯 (translate), 校長 (principal), 會議 (conference).

Obviously, in the exam, you have neither the time nor the luxury to do this, but if you do this during practice, you should be able to get to a stage where you can make a mental note of these keywords where you hear them during the exam.

Section 1

Level 3 (10 questions)

A brief conversation is played. Match the most appropriate picture to what you heard.

Example

男:喂,请问张经理在吗? Hi, is Manager Zhang here?

女:他正在开会,您半个小时以后再打,好吗? He’s in a meeting now, can you call back half an hour later?

Then you’d select a picture of a receptionist picking up a phone out of five pictures.

Section 2

Level 3 (10 questions)

A sentence is played out loud, and a second sentence ensues. You have to determine whether the second sentence is a correct rephrasing of the first.

Example

今天我想早点儿回家。看了看手表,才 5 点。过了一会儿再看表,还是5 点,我这才发现我的手表不走了。

Today I wanted to go home earlier. Upon looking at my watch, it was only 5 o’clock. After a while of looking at my watch, it was still 5 o’clock, and I realised that my watch stopped moving.

[A statement is then given.]

那块儿手表不是他的。

That watch is not his.

This is obviously a wrong implication of the statement, so you’d cross this.

Section 3

Level 3 (10 questions)

A brief two-lined dialogue is played, followed by a question. You have to choose the right answer.

Example

男:小王,帮我开一下门,好吗?谢谢!

M: Xiao Wang, help me open the door, will ya? Thanks!

女:没问题。您去超市了?买了这么多东西。

F: No problem. You went to the supermarket? You bought so many things!

问:男的想让小王做什么?

Q: What did the man want Xiao Wang to do?

A 开门 B 拿东西 C 去超市买东西

A Open the door B Carry something C Go to the supermarket to buy something

A is the answer.

Section 4

Level 3 (10 questions)

Similar to section 3, but the dialogue is longer.

Example

女:晚饭做好了,准备吃饭了。 F: Dinner is ready, get ready to start.

男:等一会儿,比赛还有三分钟就结束了。 M: Hang on, the match is gonna end in three minutes.

女:快点儿吧,一起吃,菜冷了就不好吃了。 F: Hurry up, let’s eat together, the food won’t taste as good when cold.

男:你先吃,我马上就看完了。 M: You eat first, I’ll be done in a moment.

问:男的在做什么? Q: What is the man doing?

A 洗澡 B 吃饭 C 看电视

A Taking a shower B Eating C Watching TV

Answer: C

Reading

Section 1

Level 3 (10 questions)

You are given 20 phrases, five phrases for each set of five questions – one phrase matches just one other the best. You have to find the best pairing for each question.

Example

生日快乐!这是我给你买的礼物,喜欢不喜欢?

Happy birthday! This is my present for you, do you like it?

A 爷爷教了我很多次。

Grandpa taught me a lot of times.
B 做作业遇到不会的词语时,你用铅笔在旁边记一下。

When you encounter words you don’t know, jot it down on the side with your pencil.

C 我还以为你忘了呢,你真好!

And here I thought you forgot it, how nice of you!
D 决定了没?去还是不去?

Decided yet? Are you going or not going?
E 你先吃个苹果吧,我去给你做面条儿。

You can eat an apple first, I’ll make some noodles for you.

Answer: C

Section 2

Level 3 (10 questions)

You are given 10 phrases – each with a blank. Among 10 choices, you need to fill in the blank with the best choice.

Example

A 刻 B 双 C 音乐 D 其他 E 干净

(Quarter [past], Pair, Music, Others, Clean)

现在是三点一( ),别担心,我们不会迟到。

It’s now () three, don’t worry, we won’t be late.

Answer: A

Section 3

Level 3 (10 questions)

You are given 10 very short paragraphs and a question. Among three choices, you need to choose the best one.

Example

您是来参加今天会议的吗?您来早了一点儿,现在才八点半。您先进来 坐吧。

Are you here to participate in today’s conference? You’re a bit early, it’s only 8:30. Please come in first, have a seat.

会议最可能几点开始?

When can the conference start?

A 8 B 8:30 C 9:00

Answer: C

Exam tip

Section 3 isn’t all that hard – it’s a combination of being able to understand the question, and more importantly, being able to read the question correctly. Often times, the answers will all seem like sensible answers, but in order to pick the right one, the key is in the question. If you get that down accurately, you should be fine.

Here’s a better example to illustrate this point:

小时候弟弟比我矮,现在却超过我了,看着他一米八二的个子,我真是羡 慕极了。

When we were little, my little brother was shorter than me, but he’s now surpassed me, and looking at his height at 1.82 m, I’m full of admiration.

根据这句话,可以知道现在:

From this sentence, we know that now:
A 我一米八 B 我比弟弟矮 C 弟弟个子矮 D 我同情弟弟

A I’m 1.82m tall B I’m shorter than my little brother C My little brother is short D I feel for my little brother

The keyword in the question is 現在, which means now. That immediately eliminates C and D, and since A is just wrong, that leaves us with B.

However, the answers aren’t that tricky for most questions, so as long as you understand the text, this section should be fairly easy too.

Writing

Section 1

Level 3 (5 questions)

For each sentence, re-arrange the words to form a logical sentence.

Example

自己的 每个人 优点和缺点 都 有

Answer: 每個人都有自己的優點和缺點。(Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses.)

Section 2

Level 3 (5 questions)

For each sentence, you’re give a blank with the pinyin, you need to write the corresponding character.

Example

今天的云很多,看不见( tài )阳。

There are loads of clouds today, can’t see the sun.

Answer: You’d fill in 太.

HSK Level 4

Listening

Section 1

Level 4 (10 questions)

For Level 4, Section 1 is equivalent to Section 2 of Level 3, except with increased difficulty.

Example

现在我很少看电视,其中一个原因是,广告太多了,不管什么时间,也不管什么节目,只要你打开电视,总能看到那么多的广告,浪费我的时间。

I watch very little television nowadays, one of the main reasons is that there are just too many ads, whatever the time, whatever program is showing, if you switch on the television, you’ll always see a lot of commercials, wasting my time.

[A statement is given – is this implied?]

他喜欢看电视广告。

He likes to watch television commercials.

Answer: No

Exam tips

When listening to passages of a greater length, it’s even more important to pay attention to the key verbs and adjectives of the sentence in order to understand the general gist of what they’re saying. In essence, higher level HSK listening sections test your ability to comprehend information on-the-go and then retain it for a short while. With a strong vocabulary and training in speed comprehension, this section shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.

Section 2

Level 4 (15 questions)

For Level 4, Section 2 is equivalent to Section 3 of Level 3.

女:该加油了,去机场的路上有加油站吗?

F: It’s time to fill up the gas tank, is there a gas station on our way to the airport?

男:有,你放心吧。

M: Yeah, [there is], don’t worry about it.

问:男的主要是什么意思?

Q: What did the man want to say?

A 去机场 B 快到了 C 油是满的 D 有加油站

(Go to the airport, He’s there soon, Gas tank is full, There’s a gas station)

Answer: D

Section 3

Level 4 (20 questions)

For Level 4, Section 3 is equivalent to Section 4 of Level 3.

Example

男:把这个文件复印五份,一会儿拿到会议室发给大家。

M: Please photocopy five copies of this document, and take it to the conference room to everyone later.

女:好的。会议是下午三点吗?

F: Okay. The meeting is at three?

男:改了。三点半,推迟了半个小时。

M: It changed. 3:30, it was delayed for half an hour.

女:好,602 会议室没变吧?

F: Alright, the conference room didn’t change, right?

男:对,没变。

M: No, it didn’t change.
问:会议几点开始?

Q: When does the conference start?

A两点 B 3点 C 3:30 D 6点

(2:00, 3:00, 3:30, 6:00)

Answer: C

Reading

Section 1

Level 4 (5 questions)

For Level 4, Section 1 is equivalent to Section 2 of Level 3.

Example

A 随着 B 尝 C 春节 D 收拾 E 提醒

(Follow, Taste, Spring festival, Tidy up, Remind)

研究证明,人们的心情会( )天气的变化而变化。

Studies show that people’s moods will () the weather’s changes and change.

(Studies show that people’s moods change according to the weather.)

Answer: A

Section 2

Level 4 (10 questions)

For Level 4, you’re given three sentences for each question – your job is to re-arrange them in the correct order.

Example

A 茶不仅仅是一种饮料 B 它在中国有着几千年的历史 C 而且还是一种文化

(Tea isn’t only a drink, it has thousands of years of history in China, and it’s a culture [in itself].)

Answer: A, B, C

Exam tips

For this section, you need to pay attention to conjunctions. These are usually obvious telltale signs of sentence order. One thing I’ll advise you against doing – translating these phrases to your native language and then putting them in order. Not that the level of difficulty would require you to do so, but this will only slow you down and confuse you more. Conjunctions are usually more than enough to get the answer.

Section 3

Level 4 (20 questions)

Level 3 and 4 are the same, but Level 4 contains more difficult phrases, especially for the last 5 questions, spanning longer paragraphs in more specialised contexts.

森林里,动物们决定举办一个晚会,这次演出吸引了几乎所有的动物。他们 都很积极,准备的节目各有特点,小鸟要给大家唱歌,老虎要跳舞,小猫要画画 儿,猴子要讲故事,狮子说他给大家照相,熊猫说:“我不会表演,但是我可以 当观众,为大家鼓掌。”最后只剩下小牛了,她想了好久,忽然得意地说:“我负 责为大家送免费的牛奶!”

In the forest, the animals decided to host a party, this performance attracted almost all animals. They were all very motivated, and the prepared shows all had their specialities, the little bird was going to sing to everyone, the tiger was going to dance, the kitten was going to draw, the monkey was going to tell stories, the lion said he’d take photographs for everyone, the panda said, “I don’t know any show talents, but I can be the audience, and applaud for everyone.” At last only the small cow was left, she thought for a long time, and suddenly said with glee, “I’ll be responsible to deliver free milk to everyonee!”

谁打算为大家讲故事? A 狗 B 马 C 猴子 D 小猪

Who intended to tell stories to everyone? Dog, Horse, Monkey, Piglet

小牛负责为大家: A 报名 B 送牛奶 C 填写地址 D 做巧克力

The little cow was responsible for: A Registering B Delivering milk C Filling in addresses D Make chocolate

Answers: C, B

Exam tips

Unnerving as it is to see large chunks of text at the end of the exam, rest at ease knowing that the level of difficulty of these longer paragraphs are usually much less than their shorter counterparts. If you read each passage carefully, you’ll arrive easily at the answer.

Writing

Section 1

Level 4 (5 questions)

Same as level 3.

Section 2

Level 4 (5 questions)

For Level 4, you’re given a picture and a word, and using that word, you need to create a short sentence.

Example

Picture of a woman holding a video camera.

Word given: 风景

Sample Answer

她用錄相機拍風景。

Speaking (HSKK 中级,Intermediate)

Section 1

Section 1 (10 questions, 8 seconds each)

Repeat each sentence.

Example

大家都很关心您的健康。We’re all concerned about your health.

Section 2

Section 2 (2 questions, 2 minutes each)

Look at a picture and describe it.

Example

A couple having a picnic in rainy weather.

Sample Answer

一對年輕的夫婦在郊外開野餐。他們沿路上天氣都很好,而且由於今天是星期六,兩人都不用上班,所以他們顯得特別悠閒。他們到的時候坐在草地上,享受他們的二人世界。很可惜,不到半個小時,天就開始變陰暗了,不多久就開始下雨了。他們很無奈,只能急著回家。

A young couple had a picnic in the suburbs. The weather was find on their way there, and because it was Saturday, neither person had to go to work, so they appeared pretty relaxed. When they arrived, they sat on the grass plains, enjoying their small, private world. Unfortunately, the skies started to darken in less than half an hour of them arriving, and it started raining soon afterwards. Feeling helpless [about the situation], they hurried home.

Exam tips

I’m thinking the main problem of the speaking exam is in this section. The problem is that you’re given 2 minutes, which is a tad bit too long to describe one picture for me. If you’re the type who likes talking a lot, and have a good imagination, though, you might love this.

The thing to take note here is loose association. What you have to say, you can make up, as long as it’s not ridiculous. For instance, if you’re shown a picture of a student reading on a bench outside university, saying that he’s a spy might be inappropriate. But saying that he’s depressed about having broken up with his girlfriend and wants to take some time off to be alone, and his way of doing this is to sit on a bench in a relaxing place might be more relevant.

You need a fair bit of practice with this, because you’ll often find it can be hard to fill up the two minutes – the best thing to do is to have a loose idea of what you want to say before you do the recording, so you know what you’ll say and will be within time limits.

Section 3

Section 3 (2 questions, 2 minutes each)

Answer the question in moderate detail.

Example

爸爸过生日时,你想送什么礼物给他?On dad’s birthday, what do you want to give him?

Sample Answer

爸爸快生日時,我考慮了很久應該送什麼給他。我不想隨便的買一樣東西給爸爸,通過錢換來的禮物多沒有意義呢,反而,我想送上我自己做的禮物。於是,我就花了一個星期研究摺紙。結果,爸爸生日的那天,我送上了一朵我自己創造的玫瑰,而看到爸爸非常開心的樣子时,我覺得花了這一個星期的時間去鑽研這件事情絕對值得!

As dad’s birthday approached, I thought long and hard about what I should give him. I didn’t just want to buy something for dad, a gift exchanged for with money is meaningless, on the contrary, I wanted to give dad a present I hand-crafted. So, I spent a week investigating origami. In the end, on dad’s birthday, I gave dad a rose I made myself, and when I saw the happy look on dad’s face, I thought that the week I spent on investigating origami was well worth the time!

Exam tips

Section three is a bit more straightforward – you simply have to answer an open ended question within two minutes and be done with it. Because it’s open ended, you’re given a bit of free reign, so you don’t have to worry about saying anything out of bounds.

HSK Level 5

Listening

Exam Tips

Listening at the higher levels, again, doesn’t test your ability to comprehend some esoteric terms no one ever uses – it tests your ability to understand large chunks of stuff, and to do so quickly.

At this point, we’re past listening to key words – you should be able to do that automatically by now – we’re more interested in understanding the overall gist and tone of the conversation.

Doing so requires a lot of good old practice, so I strongly recommend that in the month or so preceding your HSK test, a large chunk of time should be devoted to listening exercises in a variety of contexts.

For exam tips for this level, I highly recommend you reference the next section on level 6. There are lots of useful techniques I included there and there are lots of overlapping components in this level, so I omitted them intentionally.

Section 1

Level 5 (20 questions)

Based on a short conversation, you’re asked a question. You then have to select between four answers. These questions usually test your ability to read between the lines.

Example

女:明天上午 9 点我准时到。 F: Tomorrow I’ll arrive at 9 o’clock sharp.

男:我觉得还是提前几分钟吧。 M: I still think we should arrive a couple minutes early.

问:男的主要是什么意思? Q: What does the man mean?

A 9 点太早了 (A: 9 is too early)

B 他不会迟到 (B: He won’t be late)

C 可能不参加 (C: He won’t participate)

D 应该早点儿来 (D: Should arrive earlier).

Correct answer: D

While it doesn’t seem difficult on paper, listening requires some good impromptu understanding skills, which may prove challenging even with the simplest of conversations.

Section 2

Level 5 (25 questions)

Similar to section 1, but with a longer conversation / paragraph.

Example

一个很有名的作家坐火车去外地。当火车上的工作人员检查车票时,他 翻了每个口袋,也没有找到自己的车票。正好这个工作人员认识他,于是就 安慰他说:“没关系,如果您实在找不到车票,那也没事。”“怎么能没事呢? 我必须找到那张车票,不然的话,我怎么知道自己要去哪儿呢?” 作家找不到车票,工作人员是怎么做的?

A famous author went to a foreign place by train. When the staff on the train checked the tickets, he turned every pocket, but couldn’t find his train ticket. It was fortunate, then, that the operator recognised him and said, “It’s alright, if you really can’t find your ticket, that’s fine as well.” “How can it be fine? I must find the ticket, or else, how am I supposed to know where I’m heading to?” When the author didn’t find his ticket, what did the train operator do?

A 让他补票 A: Allowed him to buy another ticket

B 帮他找车票 B: Helped him find it

C 表示没关系 C: Said it was OK

D 让他一定找到 D: Let him find it

Correct Answer: C

Reading

Section 2

Level 5 (15 questions)

A few passages are provided, where you have to fill in the blanks with either words or sentences, give to you in the form of 4 multiple choices per blank. This section will test your ability to differentiate between synonyms and their connotations. It also tests you on your ability to comprehend texts from lots of different contexts quickly.

Example

孔子是中国古代很有学问的人。有一次路上遇到两个小孩在争论,就走上前 去问他们原因。

一个小孩说:“我 _____ 太阳刚出来时离我们比较近,而到了中午,太阳就离 我们远了。但是他觉得不对。”

Confucius was very well learnt man in ancient China. Once when he was on the road, he saw two children arguing and approached them, asking them why. One child said, “I ___ that the sun is nearer to us when it first rises, and when noon approaches, the sun distances itself from us. But he thinks otherwise.”

孔子很有兴趣地问道:“你们能说说自己的 _____ 吗?”

Interested, Confucius asked, “Can you tell your ____ ?”

那个小孩说:“太阳刚出来的时候很大;到了中午,它就变小了。这说明太 阳刚出来时离我们近,中午离我们远。”

The child said, “When the sun just rises, it’s very big, but when noon approaches, it becomes smaller. This clearly illustrates that when the sun just rises, it is nearer to us, and is more distant at noon. “

另一个小孩说:“太阳刚出来时, _____ 不热;到了中午,就很热了。这说明 太阳刚出来时离我们远,中午离我们近。”

The other child said, “When the sun just comes out, _____ not hot; when noon comes, it becomes very hot. This shows that when the sun just rises, it’s farther away from us, and when noon comes, it’s closer to us.”

孔子听了他们的话,一时也不知道该怎么回答。 两个小孩笑着说:“ _____ ?”

As he was listening to them, for a short while, he also didn’t know how to respond. The two children said, smiling, “_____?”

A 了解 B 讨论 C 认为 D 认识

A Understand B Discuss C Think D Know (a person)

A 态度 B 理由 C 机会 D 思想

A Attitude B Reason C Opportunity D Thought

A 天气 B 气候 C 温度 D 气温

A Weather B Climate C Temperature D Air temperature

A 你说的对吗啊 (Say, do you think I’m right?)

B 太阳离我们多远 (How far is the Sun away from us?)

C 为什么你这么聪明呢 (Why are you so clever?)

D 谁说你的知识很丰富呢 (Who said you’re so clever?)

Correct Answers: C, B, A, D

(I do think choosing D for the final answer changes the tone of the story, even though it does fit best, and portrays these two kids in a very derogatory manner. Then, I wouldn’t have translated this as “the two children said, smiling”, instead I’d have offered, “the two children said, leering”, which vastly changes things, doesn’t it? So you’re not alone if you think it’s strange.)

Section 2

Level 5 (10 questions)

For every question, a passage is given, and you have to choose the most appropriate answer whose meaning matches the passage the closest. This section tests your ability to comprehend the passage.

Example

讲故事的人,往往在最吸引人的地方故意停下来。他这样做的目的,是为了 引起大家的好奇心,让人有更大的兴趣听下去。讲故事的人,也可以利用这 个机会观察一下大家的态度,以便接下来讲得更好。这种做法,中国人把它 叫做“卖关子”。

Storytellers often stop when it’s most enticing. The reason for [him in] doing this is to arouse people’s curiosity, and to invoke their interest in listening to the rest of the story. Storytellers can also use this opportunity to observe everyone’s attitudes, as to do an even better job at telling the rest of the story. This is what Chinese people call “keeping people in suspense”.

A 卖关子可以吸引听众 Keeping people in suspense can attract audiences.

B 讲故事的人没有好奇心 Storytellers have no curiosity.

C 讲故事时不应该停下来 We shouldn’t stop when telling stories.

D 听故事的人喜欢卖关子 People listening to stories like to keep others in suspense.

This should be fairly obvious when you read the answers.

Correct answer: A

Section 3

Level 5 (20 questions)

This section is effectively reading comprehension. In this section, a passage is given, and you’re asked a few questions on the passage. These texts are usually not difficult, but often times, the answers are designed to be confusing and you might have to look twice before choosing among these very similar answers. Again, this is a challenge of speed.

Example

世界上有三种丈夫:

第一种是不闻不问的丈夫。在你把一件衣服穿了两年之后,他总算注意到 了:“亲爱的,这是件新衣服吧?”讨论这种丈夫没有什么意义,我们就随便他 吧。至少他有一个优点:能够让你自由地打扮。

There are three types of husband in this world.

The first is the indifferent type. When you have worn an article of clothing for two years, he finally notices it. “Honey, is this [piece of clothing] new?” [Since] It’s pointless to discuss this type of husbands, let’s leave it be. At least he has an advantage – he’ll let you dress up freely.

第二种是理想的丈夫。对你穿的衣服真正地感兴趣,并会提出建议。他能理 解时尚,领会时尚,喜欢谈论时尚,知道什么最适合你,以及你最需要什么,他 赞美你胜过赞美其他女人。如果你碰到这样一个男人,一定要把他抓住——他可 是极为稀有的,很难遇到。

The second type is the ideal husband. He takes a genuine interest in what you wear, and makes proposals. He understands fashion, he grasps fashion, he likes discussing fashion, and he knows what fits you best and what you need most, and he lavishes praise on you, that you are more beautiful than other women. If you meet a man like this, you should cling on – he is rare, and extremely difficult to encounter.

第三种是管得太多的丈夫。他比你自己还清楚你适合穿什么,他决定你现在穿的衣服样式是好还是不好,他决定你应该去哪家商店买衣服。有时候,这种男 人的选择会跟上目前的时代,不过大多数时候,他都受他母亲衣着的影响,所以 他的眼光——说得客气一点——至少停留在 20 年以前。

The third type is the nosy husband. He’s clearer about what fits you more than yourself, he decides whether the style of clothing you’re wearing is good or not, and he decides which store to go to for shopping clothes. Sometimes, the choices made by this type of men will be capable of following the trends, but most of the times, he is vastly affected by his mother’s fashion sense, so his tastes – to put it nicely – are outdated by at least 20 years.

第一种丈夫: (The first type of husband)
A 常给妻子买新衣服 Often buys new clothes for his wife

B 很少注意到妻子的衣服 Very rarely notices what his wife wears

C 不太喜欢妻子穿新衣服 Don’t like his wife wearing new clothes

D 对妻子的衣服有很多要求 Has a lot of demands as to what his wife wears

第 3 段中画线词语“稀有”最可能是什么意思? What could the underlined word “稀有” (rare) mean?

A 适合 Appropriate

B 真实 Real

C 非常少 Very little
D 容易找到 Easy to find

关于第三种丈夫,下列哪项正确? (About the third type of husbands, which of the following is correct?)

A 喜欢赞美妻子 Likes to praise his wife

B 常和妻子去商店 Often goes shopping with his wife

C 很受女人的欢迎 Very popular among the ladies
D 他的选择经常跟不上时代 His choices are often out of style [cannot catch up with the times]

第三种丈夫在哪方面受到母亲的影响? (What is it about the third type of husband that is affected by the mother?)

A 性格 Personality

B 穿衣打扮 Dressing up style
C 交际方式 Interaction with others
D 处理问题的方式 How he deals with problems

Correct answers: B, C, D, B

Writing

Section 1

Level 5 (8 questions)

This section is rearranging sentences. Each question, you’ll be give a bunch of words, which you have to rearrange to form sentences which make sense.

Example

大笑 忍不住 起来 他

Correctly, this would be re-arranged into “他忍不住大笑起来。”

Section 2

Level 5 (2 questions)

This section tests your ability to write a short paragraph. The test format can vary, from giving you 5 words you must include in the passage, to a picture. Based on the given material, you must then compose a passage (usually under 100 words – about 5 – 7 sentences should suffice).

Example

请结合下列词语(要全部使用),写一篇 80 字左右的短文。

元旦、放松、礼物、表演、善良

Please use the words below (you must use them all), and write a short passage of about 80 words.

New Year’s Eve, Relax, Present, Show, Kind

Sample Answer

元旦快到了。我们一家人有一个习惯 – 每到元旦放假的时候,我们都会出国旅游放松一下。我们经常会到一些名胜古迹观光,看一些比较地道的表演。我爸妈都是很外向的人,所以每次旅游的时候一定会认识到各种各样的人,幸好他们人缘好,遇上的都是一些心地善良的人。

New Year’s Eve is arriving. Our family has a tradition – each time the New Year’s Even holidays arrive, we like to go abroad and travel in order to relax ourselves a little. We often like to visit some historical sites, and watch some local shows. My parents are quite extroverted, so every time we travel, we’re bound to run into all kinds of people, and it’s fortunate that they’re good with people – those they meet are often kind hearted folks.

Exam tips

As you can see, this is super easy. You’re not tested on your literary flair. If you create a believable scenario that allows you to use these words in a reasonably coherent manner, you’ll pass.

As a matter of fact, the low word limit is almost something to look out for – because you’re limited to around 80 words, it’s really easy to go over. And you don’t want to go over.

If we look at this simply, they’re probably expecting about 16 – 20 words per sentence per word, or about 5 sentences in total. Of course, it’s not always that perfect – as you can see, I used multiple words in the first sentence already.

My recommended strategy here would be to think up the scenario BEFORE you start writing. If you spend just a minute or two planning it out (in your head), it’ll be so much easier.

Don’t look down on the importance of planning…you’ll thank yourself for doing it!

HSK Level 6

Listening

Exam Tips

At this level, it’s not just a simple matter of taking notes of verbs and adjectives – you have to be able to tune in to the context immediately from the first sentence or so, and then have a pretty good idea of what to take notes on.

For instance, if you’re listening to a recording about flights, you might take down information like departing city and destination city, distance of flight, length of flight, etc.

A different recording about a fable on an old man losing his horse might inspire you to focus more on the events of the tale more than the details. You might focus more on understanding the general gist of the story rather than honing in on the individual details – it is assumed that your ability to hone in on specifics is automatic – understanding the overall meaning will give you a context to place these specific details.

Also, a note on note taking. On these higher levels, I would highly recommend against taking notes. The only way to eliminate this is through practice. But I personally found that whenever I took notes during practice exams, it would detract my attention from the tape.

That being said, there are several sections that are considerably longer that you might not be able to remember unless you take notes (I still recommend against it for the same reason, but you might find it helpful). In that case, I recommend that you take notes in your mother tongue, because Chinese is usually unwieldy to write and wastes your time.

Section 1

Level 6 (15 questions)

In Level 6, instead of a short conversation, a short passage is given for each question. And instead of answering a question, you have to choose the most relevant answer that ties in best with the short passage. This is similar to a listening version of Level 5’s Section 2 in reading.

Example

“开卷有益”这个成语的意思是读书就会有所收获。毫无疑问,书是人类 最好的朋友、最好的老师,是人类获得知识的重要途径之一。博览群书 能使人拥有高深的学问,能言善辩,受人尊重。

The idiom “You can’t open a book without learning something” means that reading will be beneficial. Undoubtedly, books are man’s best friend, man’s best teacher, and they’re also an important means through which we gain knowledge. Reading a wide variety of books can allow us to gain in depth knowledge [on different topics], teach us how to be more articulate, and help us gain respect from others.

A 读书有许多好处 A: Reading has lots of benefits

B 老师是最好的朋友 B: A teacher is our best friend

C 父母是最好的老师 C: Parents are our best teachers

D 现代人不喜欢读书 D: Modern people don’t like reading

Correct answer: A

This section has relatively distinct answers, so you’re really tested on your ability to comprehend the overall passage by ear in enough detail prior to being asked a question.

Section 2

Level 6 (15 questions)

In Level 6, the conversations grow a lot longer than in Level 5. While Level 5 might have five lines of conversations between two people, Level 6 might have over 30 lines of conversation between two people. Also, the style of these conversations is interview-themed. After a long conversation is played, about five questions are asked, and you have to select the most appropriate answer from four choices.

Like Section 1 in Level 6, the answers aren’t tricky – they’re very distinct – if you take notes along the way regarding details of the interview, the answers should be fairly obvious.

Sample Passage

女:欢迎一代武侠小说大师金庸先生。您好,最近很多人都在议论,说您正 在修改自己的武侠小说?

F: Welcome (master of WuXia novels), Mr. Jin Rong. Hi, a lot of people have been discussing this question recently – are you changing your own WuXia novels?

男:是这样的,到现在已经改了七年,我把自己以前的作品全部改完了。从 《书剑恩仇录》开始改,有十五部小说,每一部小说差不多都要改,现 在已经全部改完了,新的修改本也已经全部出版了。

M: It’s actually like this, up till now, it’s already been seven years since I’ve been modifying my own novels, and I’m nearly done modifying all of them, the new editions are almost completely published.

女:最初开始写武侠小说,是为了一个乐趣,是不是?

F: At first, was it a hobby to write WuXia novels?

男:最初是工作上需要的。主要是我在《新晚报》做编辑,《新晚报》需要这样一篇稿子,人家知道我喜欢谈论武侠小说,算是比较了解的,所以我就被抓来写了。

M: At first, it was a necessity at work. Mainly I was editor at the “新晚报” [a publication], they needed a draft like this, and since other people knew I liked talking about WuXia novels, and I kind of understood this [whole WuXia thing], so I was hoisted into writing this.

女:您的读者遍布全球华人世界,无论什么职业、什么性别。您有没有考虑过,为什么您的作品大家都能接受?

F: Your readership is spread across Chinese communities all across the world, regardless of profession and gender. Have you ever considered why your works are so widely accepted?

男:想过,我认为是因为代表了中国的传统思想的核心价值。

M: I have, and I think it’s because [my works] represent the traditional belief systems and core values of China.

女:您觉得这个核心的价值是什么?

F: What do you think these core values are?

男:我觉得是忠孝仁爱这种道德观念,对待朋友应该要真诚,对待父母应该孝敬,这种价值观念是中国人大致一样的。

M: I think that moral values like filial piety, hospitality, treating friends genuinely, respecting your parents are common among Chinese people.

女:您曾经说过,说武侠小说是没有前途的,因为这些古代的事情离现在的生活越来越远了。但是在现实中我们恰恰看到您的小说被无数遍地改编 成电视剧、电影,然后又编成电脑游戏,是每一代年轻人都喜爱的文化 产品,这和您的话之间有矛盾吗?

F: You also mentioned before that WuXia novels have no future, because these events [of old] are now growing more and more apart from [modern] life [as we know it]. But in reality, we’re actually seeing your novels being adapted into countless dramas, movies and then programmed as games – and these are cultural products loved by the new generation of youngsters – doesn’t this contradict your earlier opinion?

男:我没有说武侠小说没有前途,我意思是说要发掘武侠小说越来越困难了。

M: I never said that WuXia novels have no future – what I meant was it’s now becoming increasingly difficult to develop the WuXia novel [genre].

女:要再写下去越来越困难?

F: It’s going to be more difficult to continue writing?

男:对,我想将来这个武侠小说的前途不是写古代了,可能是写现代了。

M: Yes, and I think that the future of WuXia novels isn’t to focus in past events – it’s going to be focusing on contemporary events.

女:作为人生的境界来说,您现在最希望自己能够达到的一种境界是什么?

F: In terms of achieving a certain state in life, what type of heights are you hoping to reach personally?

男:我现在年纪大了,我希望可以平平淡淡过生活,有机会能够游山玩水一下。

M: I’m now growing older, I wish I can lead a plain life, and if I have an opportunity to do so, I’d love to go touring some scenic places.

Sample Questions & Answers

男的刚刚完成了一项什么工作? What did the man just finish doing?

A 修改自己的作品 Modifying his own work

B完成第15部小说 Completing his 15th novel
C 把小说改编成电影 Adapting his novel into a movie

D 成为《新晚报》编辑 Become the editor of “新晚报”

Correct Answer: A

男的最初写小说的原因是什么? What was the original reason that the man started writing novels?

A 兴趣爱好 Hobby

B 工作需要 Out of necessity at work

C 为了赚钱 To make money

D 为了证明自己 To prove himself worthy

Correct Answer: B

男的的作品为什么很受欢迎? Why are the man’s novels so popular?

A 能让人感到安慰 Makes people feel consolation
B 体现中国武术精神 Embodies the spirit of Chinese martial arts
C 体现中国价值观念 Embodies traditional Chinese values
D 反映中国传统生活方式 Reflects Chinese people’s traditional ways of living

Correct Answer: C

男的认为武侠小说的前途是什么? What does the man think about the future of WuXia novels?

A 情节曲折奇特 Plots becomes complicated and eccentric

B 表现传统美德 Manifest traditional moral values [in the stories]

C 具有中国风格 Have more of a Chinese style

D 反映现代生活 Reflects modern life

Correct Answer: D

男的希望以后过什么样的生活? What type of a life does the man hope to live?

A 朴素传统 Simple and traditional

B 忙碌充实 Busy and fulfilling

C 平淡悠闲 Plain and carefree

D 时尚现代 Contemporary and modern

Correct Answer: C

Section 3

Level 6 (20 questions)

Similar to Section 2 in Level 6, you’re played a paragraph and then asked questions. However, while these texts are noticeably shorter, these texts are not interview styled, and are much more difficult than the prior section (they are usually stories, short reports, or some sort of an opinion piece). The key is to jot down useful things you hear when the passage is played, so you have a rough idea of how to answer the questions. The difficulty usually isn’t in understanding the text, it’s in remembering it.

Example

古时候,有个商人献给国王三个外表一模一样的金人,同时出了一道题 目:这三个金人哪个最有价值?

国王想了许多办法,请来珠宝匠检查,称重量,看做工,都是一模一样 的。怎么办?最后,有一位老大臣说他有办法。

In the old days, a merchant respectfully presented three golden statues that were identical in appearance to the king, asking the king a question at the same time: Which one of these three statues is the most valuable?

The king considered many ideas, such as asking a jewellery smith to inspect them, weigh them, inspect the craftsmanship of these statues, [but all of these methods only showed that] they were completely identical. What to do? At last, a old, high ranking official at the emperor’s court said he had an idea.

他拿了三根稻草,把第一根插入第一个金人的耳朵里,稻草从另一个耳 朵出来了。第二个金人的稻草从嘴巴里掉了出来。而第三个金人,稻草进去 后掉进了肚子里,什么响动也没有。老臣说:“第三个金人最有价值。”商人 说答案正确。

He took three straws,inserted the first straw into the ear of the first golden statute, and the straw came out of the other ear. With the second statute, it fell from the mouth. As for the third statue, the straw went into the stomach, and no further movements came about. The old official said, “the third golden statue is the most valuable.” The merchant said his answer was correct.

这个故事告诉我们,最有价值的人,不一定是最能说的人。老天给我们 两只耳朵一个嘴巴,本来就是让我们多听少说的。善于倾听,才是成熟的人 最基本的素质。

This story tells us, the most valuable person might not be the person who has the most things to say. God gave us two ears and a mouth, for no other reason than to allow us to hear more and say less. To be good at listening – such is the hallmark characteristic of a mature person.

“金人”问题是谁解决的? Who resolved this problem of the “Golden Statue”?

A 国王 The King
B 商人 The Merchant

C 大臣 The Old Official

D 珠宝匠 The Jewellery Smith

Correct Answer: C

问题是怎么解决的? How was the problem resolved?

A 称重量 Weighing [the three statutes]

B 用稻草 Using straw
C 检查质量 Inspecting the quality

D 凭经验判断 Judging by experience

Correct Answer: B

这段话主要想告诉我们什么? What does this passage mainly want to tell us?

A 要有眼光 To have a keen eye [for things]
B 要多听少说 To listen more and speak less
C 不可轻信别人 Don’t trust others easily
D 不可盲目乐观 Don’t be blindly optimistic

Correct Answer: B

Reading

Section 1

Level 6 (10 questions)

Overview

In Level 6, the questions become much harder. Instead of filling in blanks, you’re given four sentences for each question, and among these sentences, one sentence is deliberately written with an error in it. These errors are not always obvious (to the non-native speaker), and this is a test of pure linguistic ability. For instance, it tests you on things like whether certain verbs are used in conjunction with certain nouns (e.g. 承担了广播站的主持人 sounds right, but instead is wrong, because while 承担can mean “assume”, and can here be translated as “assume the role of the broadcasting station’s host, it means assume in the sense of “assuming responsibility”, and cannot be used to mean assume as in “assuming a role”, which is correctly translated as “担任”, or “终于看到了大熊猫,儿子显得特别兴奋极了。”, which is wrong because “特别“ and “极”, means, “especially” and “very”, both used to express an elevated extent of a certain state, but which cannot be used together).

The difficulty in this section is imminent in the fact that multiple sentences may “feel” wrong to you, but only one is indeed technically wrong. For instance, 可以预见,在不久的将来我们定会看到他不凡的成就。(We can predict that he will achieve great things in the foreseeable future.) While this is correct, you may be thrown off by the fact that the word “定” is very rarely seen used on its own, and indeed, in this context, the words, either “必定” or “一定” are preferable to the singular ”定”.

Exam tips

For this section, you have to have a keen eye for word order, conjunctions, adjectives, and the like. It’s often easy to miss something because you’re reading what you want to read, skipping an important detail.

I often find that using your pencil or your finger as a pointer reduces missing entire words, and should improve your reading accuracy and comprehension.

If you really can’t determine which one is wrong, skip and come back to it. Don’t waste unnecessary time pondering over any one question.

Here’s a specific example and an analysis of this question.

A 附近河流的河水主要来自雨水、冰雪融水和地下水,流量丰富,含沙量小,水质好。

The water in the nearby river mainly comes from rainwater, water from melted snow, underground water, the volume is plentiful, the sand content is minimal, and the water quality is good.

This tests you on short phrases constructed from compound words. For instance, “流量丰富” means “the volume is plentiful”, and depending on whether you’re used to this type of sentence structure, you might be thrown off guard, but this is perfectly valid, and is an example of good writing in Chinese.

B 他的作品始终如一地关注社会最底层的小人物的命运,文字富有浓郁的理想主义色彩。

His works were consistently about the fates of the proletarians, the words [in the stories] rich with shades of idealism.

This sentence tests you on two things: whether you know what the word “始终如一” means, and whether you know whether ”浓郁” can be used in conjunction with “色彩”. 始终如一, if you didn’t know what it meant, would cause you to read the two separately, and may raise a red flag, but it means “consistently”; as for the latter, the answer is yes.

C 取得成绩不盲目乐观,遇到困难不失望悲观,这是许多成功人士成就事 业后的经验总结。

Not being blindly optimistic when getting [good] results, not being disappointedly pessimistic when running into problems, this is the summary of all the experiences behind the achievements of a lot of successful people.

This is the least suspicious of the four. This mainly tests you on whether you can read longer sentences like the second part of the sentence, where the part before the particle ”的” is just a descriptor for “经验总结”.

D 岳飞是中国南宋时期的英雄,他率领岳家军打败敌人屡次。后人为了纪念他,在杭州建了一座岳王庙。

YueFei is a hero from China’s Southern Song Dynasty, he led the Yue army and defeated his enemies countless times. In order to commemorate him, a Yue Wang Temple was build in HangZhou.

This sentence blends in well with the others. The reason this is wrong is because of a small detail – the word “屡次”. While “屡次” can be used with “打败敌人”, the word order is wrong – it must always be used before the verb. The correct sentence order would therefore be ”屡次率领岳家军打败敌人”. This is especially tricky if your mother tongue is English or a European language like French or Spanish, because it’s perfectly valid to say “…defeated his enemies countless times”, or “…il a vainçu ses enemis des nombreuses fois.” or “…el ha vencido sus enemigos los tiempos incontables .”

Correct Answer: D

Section 2

Level 6 (10 questions)

In this section of the Level 6 test, you are required to fill in multiple blanks with the most appropriate selection of words for each question. Each blank offers multiple words, and these words are usually very close synonyms – you must understand the precise connotations of each word to be able to choose correctly.

Exam tips

Start by differentiating words you do know, and then move on to eliminate answers which you’re certain are wrong. Through elimination, you should be left with fewer answers, and hone in on the right answer.

Example

椅子的舒适问题,只要设计时考虑人体结构的____ ,便可以解决。设计一把椅子而_____ 了人体的结构,就像设计蛋盒而不顾蛋的_____ 。

The problem of making a chair comfortable can be resolved if we consider the human structure’s ____ when designing it. To design a chair and _____ the structure of the human body is like designing an egg carton without paying attention to an egg’s _____.

A特征 忽略 形状 A Characteristic, Ignore, Shape

B本质 忽视 形态 B Essence, Ignore, Shape

C特点 忘记 外观 C Distinguishing feature, Forget, Appearance

D构造 违反 外貌 D Structure, Disobey / Violate, Appearance

A would be the correct answer here. We can eliminate C and D right away because “忘记” is completely inappropriate for the second blank – the word forget in Chinese doesn’t carry connotations of ignoring, which is what we want, so we can come to that conclusion here.

The last choice in D, “外貌”, is also inappropriate, because “外貌” is only used with people, not with things – the equivalent word is ”外观” when we want to describe the appearance of things, but since we already eliminated C, it’s not applicable.

The reason A is more appropriate than B is mainly because of the second choice – “忽略” actually means ignore, as in deliberate omittance, whereas ”忽视” means ignore but instead of deliberately, it means to ignore due to negligence, which clearly isn’t the case here.

Correct Answer: A

Section 3

Level 6 (10 questions)

Level 6’s Section 3 is an extrapolation of Section 2. In this section, a passage with blanks is provided, but instead of words, you are given five answers to choose from to fill in each blank. For examples, if there are five blanks, in one question, there’d be five choices to choose from – it’s a matter of allocating the right answer in the right blank.

Interestingly enough, Sections 3 and 4 are relatively straightforward – you simply fill in the blanks with phrases (a lot easier than words), and Section 4 is a reading comprehension exercise. If you read the questions carefully, it should be easy to locate the answers.

Exam tips

One thing I usually like to do is to read the questions once before reading the passage. That way, I’ll know where to focus on when doing the actual reading.

Example

曹操得到一只大象,很想知道这只大象到底有多重。官员们都纷纷议论,发 表自己的意见。有人说, _____。可是怎样才能造出比大象还大的秤 呢?有人说,把它砍成小块儿,然后再称。可是把大象杀了,知道重量又有什么 意义呢?大家想了很多办法,可是都行不通。

CaoCao got his hands on an elephant, and really wanted to know how much it weighed. The officials were having a heated discussion, all wanting to expressing their own opinion. Someone said, _____. But how can one create a weighing scale that’s larger than an elephant? Another person said, we can cut it up into little pieces, and then weight them. But what’s the meaning then of learning how much it weighs if we kill it? Everybody thought up a lot of ideas, but none of them proved practical.

就在这时,曹操的小儿子曹冲对父亲说:“爸爸,我有个办法可以称大象!” _____ ,曹操一听,连连叫好,立刻安排人准备称象,并且让大家 都过去观看。

At this time, CaoCao’s small son CaoChong said to his father, “dad, I have an idea that can allow us to weigh the elephant!” _____, as soon as CaoCao finished listening, he shouted and arranged for the weighing of the elephant, and allowed everybody to follow along to watch.

大家来到河边,看见河里停着一只大船。曹冲叫人把象牵到船上,等船身稳定时,他就在船舷与水面齐平 的地方,画了一条线。然后,曹冲再叫人把象牵到岸上 来。之后,他让人把大大小小的石头, _____ , 船身就一点儿一点儿往下沉。等船上的那条线和水面再 次平齐的时候,曹冲就叫人停止装石头。官员们都睁大了眼睛, _____ 。他们连声称赞:“好办法!好办法!”这时候,谁都 明白, _____ ,把重量加起来,就知道这头大象有多重了。曹操得意 地望着众人,心里想:你们还不如我的这个小儿子聪明呢!

Everybody went to the riverside, and saw a large boat on the river. CaoChong told the people to lead the elephant onto the boat, and when the boat was stable, he drew a line at the place where the side of the boat and the water’s surface met. Then, CaoChong told the people to drag the elephant back onto the shore. Afterwards, he led them to put rocks of all sizes, _____, causing the ship to sink bit by bit. When the line on the boat and the surface met again, CaoChong told people to stop filling the ship with rocks. The officials’ eyes widened, _____. They all exclaimed simultaneously, “What a great idea! What a great idea!” At that time, everybody understood, _____, if one added the weight together, one would know how much the elephant weighed. CaoCao proudly looked at the crowd, thinking to himself, “None of you are a match for my son’s wits!”

A 一块儿一块儿地往船上装 Loaded them onto the ship one by one
B 制造一个巨大的秤来称 Create a giant scale to weigh
C 只要把船里的石头都称一下 If [one will] only weigh the rocks on the ship

D 然后他就把办法告诉了曹操 And then he CaoCao his idea

E 这才终于弄清了是怎么回事儿 Finally they understood what was going on

Correct answer: B, D, A, E, C

Section 4

Level 6: 20 questions

This section is Similar to Section 3 in Level 5, but with increased difficulty in the level of the texts.

The main thing to know in approaching this section is to answer the questions, and nothing more, when selecting the most appropriate answer. Many questions may have choices that are all mentioned within the context of the passage, but most of these choices are completely irrelevant to the question – which brings us back to the importance of reading the question.

If you manage to do this, this section should also be fairly easy to pass.

Example

1864 年,杨全仁由山东到北京做鸡鸭生意,由于他聪明勤快,加之平时省 吃俭用,在生意红火的同时,原始积累也越积越多。一天,杨全仁在前门外看到 一家叫“德聚全”的干果铺要转让,便毅然将其买了下来。有了自己的铺子,起 个什么字号好呢?于是,杨全仁请来一位风水先生商议。那位风水先生看了店铺 之后,对杨全仁说:“鉴于以前这间店铺甚为倒运,晦气难除。现在你除非将‘德 聚全’的旧字号颠倒过来,即改称‘全聚德’,方可冲其霉运,踏上坦途。”

In 1864, Yang Quan Ren came from ShanDong to Beijing to start a business selling chickens and ducks, and because he’s clever and diligent, on top of which he is usually frugal in spending money, at the same time when business was blooming, he was able to accrue more and more primarily through primitive accumulation. One day, Yang Quan Ren saw a shop called “德聚全” that was on sale, he resolutely decided to buy it. With his own shop, [he asked himself], what should he name it? So, Yang Quan Ren consulted with a Feng Shui master. That Feng Shui master saw the shop and said to Yang Quan Ren, “Due to this shop suffering from misfortune in the past, it is difficult to remove this bad luck. Now, you have to turn the name “德聚全” around, or ”全聚德”, and this will allow you to wash away the shop’s misfortune, allowing you to embark onto a better path.”

风水先生一席话,说得杨全仁眉开眼笑,因为“全聚德”这个字号正中他的 下怀。一来他的名字中有一个“全”字,二来“聚德”就是聚拢德行,可以向世人表明自己做生意讲德行。于是,他果断决定将店铺的字号定名为“全聚德”。

The words of the Feng Shui master rendered Yang Quan Ren extremely cheerful, because 全聚德was exactly what he was after. For starters, this name had the character “全” in it, second of all, ”聚德” effectively meant “gathering the crowds and moral integrity”, showing the world that he runs his business with high moral integrity. So, he firmly decided to change his shop’s name to “全聚德”.

杨全仁改“德聚全”为“全聚德”,变干果铺为饭庄,主营北京烤鸭,兼营 酱卤菜和炒菜。精明的他深知要想生意兴隆,就得有好厨师。当得知专为宫廷做御膳挂炉烤鸭的金华馆内有一位姓孙的老师傅,烤鸭技术十分了得时,他就千方 百计与其套近乎、交朋友,经常一起饮酒下棋,相互间的关系越来越密切。后来 孙师傅终于被杨全仁说动,在重金礼聘下来到了“全聚德”。

Yang Quan Ren changed “德聚全” to “全聚德”, changed the dry fruit shop into a restaurant, mainly selling Beijing Roast Duck, alongside bittern and fried dishes. The brilliant Yang knew that in order for his business to bloom, a good chef was indispensable. When he learnt that there was an old chef called Master Sun who was a specialist in preparing roast duck in the Royal Palace in the Jin Hua Guan, and whose roasting technique was top of the game, he tried every thing to cotton up to the chef, and to befriend him, often drinking and playing chess with him, and their relationship grew more and more intimate. At last, Master Sun was persuaded by Yang Quan Ren, and was paid handsomely to work at 全聚德.

孙师傅来到“全聚德”之后,便把原来的烤炉改为炉身高大、炉膛肚大、一 炉可烤十多只鸭子的挂炉,还可以一面烤,一面往里面续鸭。经他烤出的鸭子, 外形美观,丰盈饱满,鲜美酥香,肥而不腻,瘦而不柴,为“全聚德”烤鸭赢得 了“京师美馔,莫妙于鸭”的美誉。

After Master Sun went to 全聚德,he modified the original oven so that it’s taller, its hearth bigger, and one roast can contain more than a dozen ducks, which allowed them to roast while selling more ducks outside. The ducks he roasted were pleasing in appearance, abundance in meat, juicy and crispy, fat but not oily, thin but not thin as wood, and helped 全聚德 gain a reputation of “Sumptuous meals with a Beijing master, where the magic starts with the duck”.

新中国成立后,“全聚德”成为国家外事活动宴请外宾的 重要饭店。一次,周恩来总理在“全聚德”宴请外宾时,一 位外宾好奇地问起“全聚德”三个字的涵义,周总理解释说: “全而无缺,聚而不散,仁德至上。”这一解释,精辟地概括 了百年“全聚德”一贯的经营思想。“全而无缺”意味着“全 聚德”在经营烤鸭以外,还广纳鲁、川、淮、粤等菜系,菜 品丰富,质量上乘无缺憾;“聚而不散”意味着天下宾客在此 聚餐聚情,情意深厚;“仁德至上”则集中体现了“全聚德” 人以仁德之心真诚为宾客服务、为社会服务的企业理念,这也正是“全聚德”的 商魂所在,也是它被誉为“中华第一吃”的根本原因。

When modern China was established, 全聚德 became a place where China held feasts with important foreign guests. One time, as Premier 周恩来 invited several foreign guests in 全聚德, a curious guest asked what the three words 全聚德 meant, and Premier Zhou explained: “Complete and not missing anything, Gathering and not leaving, the highest moral integrity.” This explanation succinctly summarises 全聚德’s one hundred years of consistent operating principles. ”全而无缺”implies every guest who comes here not only to feast, but to gather together; “仁德至上” embodies the restaurant’s corporate philosophy of genuine integrity in servings guests, and serving society society – such is the soul of 全聚德, and it’s often one of the fundamental reasons it has been named “the first choice of Chinese food”.

风水先生的建议是: (The Feng Shui Master’s advice is)
A 经营烤鸭 To sell roast duck

B 转让店铺 To sell the shop

C 改变字号 To change the [shop] name

D 请好的厨师 To hire a good chef

第 2 段中“正中他的下怀”的意思是: The phrase “正中他的下怀” in the second paragraph means:
A 令他很有信心 Makes him confident

B 让他十分犹豫 Makes him very hesitant
C 非常合他的心意 Suits him very well

D 和他起的名字一样 Same as the name he thought up

孙师傅对北京烤鸭做了哪方面的改进? What did Master Sun improve in the Beijing Roast Duck [cooking process]?
A 工具 Tools

B 材料 Ingredients

C 种类 Type

D 经营方式 Operating method

周恩来总理对“全”的解释是: Zhou En Lai’s explanation for the character ”全” is:

A 服务全面 All rounded excellence in service

B 菜系齐全 A comprehensive choice of dishes

C 最受欢迎 Most popular

D 全心全意 Completely devoted

Correct answers: C, C, A, B

Writing

Section 1

Level 6 (1 question)

In level 6, there’s only one section the writing section. In this section, you’re typically given a text of about 1000 – 1500 words. In 10 minutes, you must read the text, and summarize the text in around 400 words.

The difficulty of this section isn’t in the content of the test, but in how the test is set out. The time you have to read the test is strictly 10 minutes, during which time you can’t take notes. After the 10 minutes come to pass, the passage is taken from you, so you must be able to produce an accurate summary from memory.

The good thing is that these texts are usually not that difficult, giving you plenty of time to read the passage at least twice, if not thrice.

Exam tips

If you read Chinese regularly as part of your training drill, the comprehension part shouldn’t be a problem. However, you are given a time limit of 10 minutes, so be sure to finish every on time (you aren’t allowed to take notes during this time).

The summarising, however, can be quite tough – it’s easy to go over the word limit.

The key is in practice – and during practice before the test, it’s important to understand how much detail is enough to summarise the passage. Through practice, you’ll be able to determine accurately which details to leave out and which are essential to the plot, so you can produce a summary within the word limit.

A few pointers here:

  1. Don’t add on. It sounds obvious, but don’t make up anything that wasn’t in the passage.
  2. Write like a robot. I know this is bad for writing creatively…but it’s perfect for summaries. It’s okay to sound like a robot when summarising the facts.
  3. Try and write in your own words. The more you’re able to do this, the more you’re leaving behind unimportant details.

Example passage

父亲是个赚钱的高手,儿子是个花钱的高手,父亲一笔生意能赚上百万,儿 子一挥手就能用掉近十万。父亲常常劝儿子:“学些本事,不要只顾着吃喝玩乐, 万一有一天我破产了,你可怎么办?”儿子从来没有当回事,他如此能干的父亲 怎么会破产呢?他想:就算他死了,也会给我留下一大笔遗产。

The dad is an expert in making money, while the son is an expert in spending money, while dad can earn millions in a business deal, the son can spend close to a hundred thousand in a flash. The dad often advise his son, “Learn something useful…don’t just play all day, if I’m broke one day, what will you do?” The son never took him seriously, after all, how could his brilliant father become broke? He thought: even if he died, he’ll leave an enormous fortune for me.

然而造化弄人,父亲真的破产了。儿子的生活一落千丈,曾经的“好朋友” 都消失了,儿子受不了这样的打击,呆在房间里准备自杀。父亲破门而入,用力 给了儿子一个耳光:“没出息,钱是我赚的,也是我赔的,与你不相干,我都没 想死,你凭什么死!”

And as fate would have it, his father did become broke. His son’s living conditions plummeted, and his once “good friends” all disappeared, not being able to take in the shock, he locked himself away in his room, ready to take his life. His father used force to break into the room and gave his son a slap on the face, “You good for nothing ass, the money I earned myself, and the loss I’m also paying myself, it’s got completely nothing to do with you, even I haven’t thought of death…what right do you have to die!”

儿子被打醒了,不知所措,问父亲:“现在我该怎么办?”

After the slap, the son was awakened, and, not knowing what to do, asked his father, “now what should I do?”

父亲考虑了一会儿说:“凭我的面子,也许还能给你找个事做,就怕你吃不 了这个苦。”

“让我试试吧。”儿子说,他下定决心要自立自强。

The dad considered a while, and said, “With my reputation, I might be able to find you something to do, I’m just afraid you won’t be able to take it.”

于是儿子便到了父亲的朋友林先生的公司做了一个小职员。工作很辛苦,开 始儿子也想过辞职,但一想到自己富贵时的朋友不再理他,有钱时的女友也讥讽 他时,他坚持了下来。他要用自己的努力换取别人真正的尊重。

And so the son went to his father’s friend, Mr. Lin’s company to be a small officer. Work was tough, and in the beginning, the son wanted to quit, but whenever he thought his friends from when he was rich abandoning him, and even his girlfriend from when he was rich ridiculing him, he persevered. He wanted to exchange other people’s genuine respect with his own efforts.

儿子遗传了父亲聪明的头脑和坚韧的性格,再加上自己的刻苦和林先生的指 教,他的工作干得有声有色,职位也一步步提升。不几年的工夫,他就当上了公 司的总经理,并且娶了一个贤惠的太太。看着自己的家因为自己的努力变得越来 越美满,他感到前所未有的充实。

Inheriting his father’s smart mind and perseverance, along with his assiduity and Mr. Lin’s guidance, his work became outstanding, alongside which he rose through the corporate ranks one by one. Within a few years, he became the company’s executive manager, and married a good wife. Seeing that his family was becoming more complete with his own efforts, he felt a sense of fulfilment like he never felt before.

然而,幸福与不幸总是联系在一起的。正当儿子的事业如日中天的时候,父 亲病倒了,儿子想尽一切办法都无法换回父亲的命。临终前,父亲拉着儿子的手, 满脸微笑,很满足的样子。

And yet, fortune and misfortune always seem to be tied together. Just when the son’s career was thriving, his father fell sick, and despite all his efforts, he was unable to reclaim his father’s life. On his deathbed, his father pulled his son’s hands, face smiling, seemingly satisfied.

儿子不知道这是为什么,直到有一天,一个律师找到他……

The son didn’t understand why, until one day, a lawyer came to him…

律师将一份文件交给他,那是父亲的遗嘱,上面写着将自己的财产分成两半, 一半送给林先生,条件是他必须将儿子培养成有用之才,另一半留给能干的儿子, 暂由林先生掌管经营。如果儿子依然花天酒地,一事无成,这一半就捐给慈善机 构。

The lawyer handed over a document to him, that was his father’s will, and on the will, he said that he would split his fortune into two halves, the first half would go to Mr. Lin, under the condition that he must nurture his son into someone useful, and the other half was to go to the capable son, which was to be managed temporarily by Mr. Lin. If the son was still going to indulge himself in lavishness, accomplishing nothing, this other half would be donated to charitable organisations.

原来父亲并未破产。儿子觉得父亲这样做实在令人难以理解。

So his father wasn’t broke. The son thought his father’s actions were incomprehensible.

律师又将一封信交给他:

The lawyer then handed him a letter.

亲爱的儿子:

Dear Son,

当你看到这封信时,我已经不在人世了,你也知道我并非真的破产。 是的,儿子,我没有破产,我只不过用我的全部家当做了我有生以来最大的一笔生意,我成功了。 看着你一天天成长,我觉得我这笔生意做得很值。如果我将我的财产留给你,也许不用几年就会被你败光,而你也会因为无人管教而成为废物。现在我用我有价的财产换来了一个无价的能干的儿子,这怎么能不让我高兴!

If you are reading this letter, this means I am no longer in this world, and you have already learnt that I am not truly broke. Yes, son, I am not broke, I only used my entire fortune to make the largest business deal in my life – and I succeeded. Seeing you grow day by day, I think this transaction was well worth it. If I gave you my fortune, you might have spent it all within the span of a few years, and you might have become trash from no one guiding you. Now, I used my valuable fortune in exchange for a priceless, capable son, how can this possibly not make me hapy?

儿子,相信你也能理解父亲的苦心,如果不是这样,你怎么会找到一个真正 爱你的妻子和一群真正能够患难与共的朋友呢?

Son, I believe you can understand the concerns of a father, because if it had not turned out this way, how would you find a wife who truly loves you and a bunch of real friends with whom you share risks and hardships together?

好好干!儿子,我相信你一定能超过我,创造更多的财富和价值。

Live well! Son, I believe you can surpass me and create even greater wealth and value.

I won’t provide a sample summary here, since it’s really straightforward to do. Instead, I’ll list a list of things I think you should be able to remember, and therefore should include in your summary in order to get the most points.

  • 爸爸会赚钱,儿子只会花钱 (Dad can earn money, but son can only spend it)
  • 有一天,爸爸破产了 (One day, dad went broke)
  • 儿子的朋友全离开了他,一时想不开,他闭上房门想自杀 (His son’s friends all left him, and not being able to accept that, he attempted suicide)
  • 爸爸及时赶到,并骂醒儿子,介绍儿子到朋友林先生的公司工作 (Dad finds him in time, gives him a good scolding, the son finally awakens, and the father introduced him to work at a friend’s company)
  • 儿子一开始想放弃但是想到有钱时的朋友和女友如何抛弃他,他不甘心,而且发奋图强工作下去 (He wanted to give up initially, but thinking back to how his friends and girlfriend gave up on him, he was spurred on to work hard)
  • 他的工作表现蒸蒸日上,很快成为公司的总经理,之后娶了一位贤良淑德的老婆,感到很满足 (His work performance improved significantly, he soon became the company’s executive manager, married a good wife, and felt satisfied)
  • 同时,他的爸爸却患上重病而去世了 (at the same time, his father passed away from a grave illness)
  • 临死之前,爸爸却显得非常开心,让儿子感到很奇怪 (before his death, his father was happy, which made the son confused)
  • 有一天律师把遗嘱交给儿子,让他得知真相:原来爸爸把遗产分成两半,一半给林先生,一半分给儿子,但如果儿子不生性,儿子的一半捐给慈善机构 (a lawyer came one day and handed the son his father’s will, where he learnt the truth, his dad split his inheritance in two halves, one for Mr. Lin, another for his son, but if his son wasn’t going to change for the better, it would be donated to charitable organisations)
  • 爸爸从来没有破产,他假装破产让儿子变乖,希望他可以出人头地,找到好的归宿,好的挚友 (dad was never broke, he only pretended to be in hopes his son will turn good, be able to form a nice family, and find some great friends)

Speaking (HSKK 高级,Advanced)

Section 1

Section 1 (3 questions, 2 minutes each)

Listen to a block of text approximately 100 – 200 long, and summarise what it’s about afterwards. (These usually describe common situations, the context isn’t too esoteric.)

Example

冬天过去了,春天来到了,由于气温变化等原因,人们经常会觉得身体很疲劳,想睡觉,这就是我们常说的“春困”。“春困”虽然不是病,但是也 会影响人们的学习和工作。不过,如果饮食合适,“春困”是可以减轻或者 消失的。比如说,常吃水果、蔬菜,喝果汁儿,少吃油多的食物。

Winter has come to pass, and spring has arrived, but because of climate changes and such reasons, people often feel worn out, and want to sleep, this is what we often call “spring drowsiness”. “Spring drowsiness” isn’t really a sickness, but it can affect people’s ability to learn and work. But, if good eating habits, “spring drowsiness” can be lessened or even disappear altogether. For instance, eating fruits and vegetables regularly, drink fruit juice, eat less oily foods.

Sample answer

冬天过完,春天来临,很多人感到特别困,会稍微影响我们日常生活,但如果我们注意饮食,就可以减轻这“春困”的效应。

Winter comes to pass, and spring arrives, a lot of people feel especially tired, affecting our lives, but if we pay attention to our diet, we can alleviate the effects of this phenomenon – “春困”.

Section 2

Section 2 (1 question, 2 minutes)

Read a block of text that’s approximately 300 words long (no pinyin). (The difficulty of this text is on par with a paragraph taken out of something like Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. It won’t be anything unreasonable, so don’t worry about memorizing a huge load of vocabulary for this section.

Example

微笑是对生活的一种态度,跟贫富、地位、处境没有必然的联系。一个富翁 可能整天烦恼忧愁,而一个穷人却可能心情舒畅。只有心里有阳光的人,才能感 受到现实的阳光,如果连自己都苦着脸,那生活如何美好?生活始终是一面镜子, 当我们哭泣时,生活在哭泣;当我们微笑时,生活也在微笑。微笑是对他人的尊 重,同时也是对生活的尊重。微笑是有“回报”的,人际关系就像物理学上所说 的力的平衡,你怎样对别人,别人就会怎样对你,你对别人的微笑越多,别人对 你的微笑也会越多。微笑是朋友间最好的语言,一个自然流露的微笑,胜过千言 万语,无论是初次见面,还是相识已久,微笑都能拉近人与人之间的距离,令彼 此倍感温暖。

Wéixiào shì duì shēnghuó de yīzhǒng tàidù, gēn pínfù, dìwèi, chǔjìng méiyǒu bìrán de liánxì. Yīgè fùwēng kěnéng zhěng tiān fánnǎo yōuchóu, ér yīgè qióngrén què kěnéng xīnqíng shūchàng. Zhǐyǒu xīn li yǒu yángguāng de rén, cáinéng gǎn Shòudào xiànshí de yángguāng, rúguǒ lián zìjǐ dōu kǔzhe liǎn, nà shēnghuó rúhé měi hào shēnghuó shǐzhōng shì yīmiàn jìngzi, dāng wǒmen kūqì shí, shēnghuó zài kūqì; . Dāng wǒmen wéixiào shí, shēnghuó yě zài wéixiào wéixiào shì duì tārén de zūnzhòng, tóngshí yěshì duì shēnghuó de zūnzhòng. Wéixiào shì yǒu “huíbào” de, rénjì guānxì jiù xiàng wùlǐ xué shàng suǒ shuō De lì de pínghéng, nǐ zěnyàng duì biérén, biérén jiù huì zěnyàng duì nǐ, nǐ duì biérén de wéixiào yuè duō, biérén duì nǐ de wéixiào yě huì yuè duō. Wéixiào shì péngyǒu jiān zuì hǎo de yǔyán, yīgè zìrán liúlù de wéixiào, shèngguò qiānyán Wàn yǔ, wúlùn shì chūcì jiànmiàn, háishì xiāngshí yǐ jiǔ, wéixiào dōu néng lā jìn rén yǔ rén zhī jiān de jùlí, lìng bǐcǐ bèi gǎn wēnnuǎn.

Smiling is an attitude in life, which has nothing to do with wealth, status and circumstances. A wealthy person may be cringing in frustration all day, yet a poor person might be feeling relaxed. Only those who have sunshine in their hearts can truly feel real sunshine, if we ourselves put on a bitter face, then how can life be beautiful? Throughout the times, life is like a mirror, when we weep, life also weeps, when we smile, life also smiles. Smiling is a type of respect to others, and at the same time it is also showing respect to life. Smiling yield returns, and human relations is like the balance of forces in physics, how you treat people is how you’ll be treated by others, the more you smile at people, the more people will smile back at you. Smiling is the best language between friends, a person who shows a smile, will be worth more than words alone, whether it be meeting for the first time, or a meeting between long term friends, a smile can always shorten the distance between people, allowing each other to feel warm.

Section 3

Section 3 (2 questions, 2.5 minutes each)

Answer two questions in great detail. These questions are usually more thought provoking, and deal with higher level trains of thought, e.g. asking why, describing a situation in detail, giving details to a question, etc.

Example

你认为理想的生活状态是怎么样的?请说说看。How would you describe an ideal state of life? Please briefly explain.)

Sample answer

我自己认为我理想的生活状态就是能够学会活在当下。从小到大,(虽然离而立之年还有一段时间!),我在单亲家庭里面长大,父母早年离婚,小时候家境贫困,再加上家里经常发生争执,我们母子关系算不上好。虽然如此,我总想尽点孝道,从小已经做好长大后要抚养我妈,负担她一切的生活和医疗费用的心理准备,所以,我觉得,比起同年的同学和朋友来讲,我经历了很多的事情,相对来说日子也过得很苦。

从我第一天学会“思考”,我就没有停过思考关于我将来的事情,天天忧虑,天天踌躇,小时候的我还很无能,每一次想到这个问题总让我感觉自己很缺乏安全感,觉得自己无依无靠,而将来也只能过着颠沛流离的生活。每一天活着的心情就犹如囚犯被判了死刑后等着被处决那一天的心情,一天一天的过着,想勇敢的去面对现实,把握时间,珍惜每一刻。但是,如果您也经历过一段非常难过的时间,在生活中面对某种挫折,您也许也知道抱着这种心情去面对生活是多么苦难的一件事情,每一次好像看到一束光,尝到苦中一点甜的滋味时,却被剥掉去抓住希望的权利,使得自己再一次感到无穷的绝望,只能无可奈何接受现实。

一眨眼,二十五年就过去了。刚进入职场,就得抱着这么沉重的心情工作,背着要养活家庭的负担而面对生活,我感到很辛苦,好像快要窒息的感觉。虽然如此,我总感觉我还是能撑得住的。平时我也没有懒惰,做事用工,跟同事相处不错,加上薪水不差,就算要负担两个人的生活费,虽然算不上绰绰有余,但总算应有得有,满足生活的基本条件,这么多年来的奋斗,总算让我履行了我对小时候的我的承诺,也算不错了吧。

但是,现在回想一下,我倒觉得自己很笨-日子既然要过,又为什么要选择伤心地过呢?将来的事情应该留给将来去想,毕竟没人能知道明天的事宜 – 既然如此,又何必多想,多忧虑呢?想到这一点,我为了因为自己不能放开我悲观的人生观而错过跟同学朋友相处的好机会而感到叹息。虽然长大过程环境因素不利于自己,但是想一下,值得我牺牲了我一切的童年吗?

经过这二十五年的教训,我现在学会了一种新的做人态度 – 也就是活在当下。对的,这也就是我现在理想的生活状态,因为只有把握当前的机会,珍惜眼前的朋友,才能让自己活得快乐,而到最终,人所寻求的也只不过是幸福快乐。我们如果可以坚持这种做人态度的话,想必大家临近临终之日,回想有生之年,也能够安然无恙的离开人世,死而无憾。

I think that my ideal state of life is to be able to “live in the moment”. When I was young, (even though I’ve got a ways to go before I’m 30!), I grew up in a single parent family, my parents divorced at an early age, and I grew up together with my mum, and even though we were intimiate, we were poor growing up, on top of that, my mother struggled with many psychological issues, and needless to say, tension was high in the family, our relationship wasn’t exactly what you’d call golden. Despite that, out of a profound respect of filial piety, I swore I would do my part and I made the decision that I would be responsible for raising my mother, to pay for all her living and medical fees when I grew up, so, I felt that, in comparison with my friends and classmates of the same age, I experienced a lot of things, and my days were relatively difficult in comparison.

Since the first day I learnt to “think”, I’ve never once stopped thinking about my future, worrying everyday, hesitating over the smallest details, and when I was still small, I always felt helpless, and everytime I thought about that question, I always felt a great lack of security, that I was all on my one, and that my future would be spent trapped in destitution. Every day was passed feeling like a convicted prisoner waiting for his death sentence, day after day, wanting to confront reality, to value every passing second, to treasure every passing moment. However, if you have experienced such a difficult period of time in your life before, in dealing with a setback of some kind, you will know how difficult it is to live life with this attitude, everytime when you seemingly approach the end of the tunnnel, to be able to taste sweetness among bitterness, you are deprived of the right to prolong this “hope”, allowing yourself to once again fall into despair, left to accept reality as it is.

In the blink of an eye, 25 years have passed. As I started my career in real life, I already have to do so with such a heavy heart, to be confronted with the burden of providing for my family in life, I feel completely worn out, like I’m about to suffocate. Even so, I do feel that I’m somehow managing to pull through. Normally, I’m not a lazy person, I work diligently at my job, and I get along quite well with colleagues, to top that off, my salary isn’t bad, and even if I have to provide for two people, even if it’s not excessive, I do think it’s sufficient to handle it, to satisfy the basic needs in life, and after all these years of labouring away at this goal, I feel that I’ve fulfilled my promise with my younger self, which isn’t too bad.

But, not that I think back, I do think that I was pretty stupid – if my days were to pass anyway, why did I have to choose to pass them in such a sad way? Matters of the future should be left to the future to deal with, after all, nobody knows what will happen tomorrow – knowing that, why bother thinking and worrying excessively about it? After haivng thought about this point, I do feel that I have wasted many an opportunity to get along and to grow together with my friends and classmates because I was unable to let go of this pessimistic life view. Even though I grew up in a set of circumstantially unfavourable conditions, after reflecting on this, I do have to ask myself – is it really worth my entire childhood?

After these 25 years, I’ve now adopted a new attitude in life – “to live in the moment”. Yes, this is also my ideal state of life, because it is only when we value our current opportunities, tresure our current friends that we are capable of achieving happiness, and at the end of the day, that which people pursue in life really boils down to happiness, and if we can persist with living life this way, I believe that even on our deathbeds, thinking back on our lives, we can peacefully pass away from this world without regrets.

Exam tips

If you take about a paragraph away from this answer, that should be about the length of your answer to one of these ideal questions speaking at a moderate pace (but thinking fast!).

As you can see, these answers don’t necessarily have to be the truth. You are not tested on how honest you are on these questions, the examiner will have no means to validate your stance, so believe me, honesty won’t score you points!

Instead, you’re tested on your Chinese ability – and whenever you can help it, it’s great to throw in an idiom to show off what you know in Chinese. Of course, there’s really no need to go all the way to use overly complicated words – unless you’re really at a level where you can roll off Chinese words off the tip of your tongue like your mother tongue.

In order to score highly for this section, (and the reason I mention this is because this section is the section that can best test your Chinese ability, so I’ll deduce that this section will weigh heavily in your oral exam, compared to the other two sections which are just paraphrasing and reading), you need to sound fluent. What this means is you’ll need to be able to express your opinion on a question naturally in a way that sounds plausible and socially acceptable.

By plausible, I mean that the answer is within reason. Within reason means that this is an answer that is likely to be true, whether it is or not isn’t important, and that it is relevant to the question. For instance, if you were asked about your opinion on what you think about the impact of technology on mankind, and you start going all futuristic and talking about nano robots and some esoteric technology, two things will happen – first, you’ll probably struggle with coming up with the right words to describe your thoughts, and you end up with a jumbled answer with random words thrown at the question, sounding illogical, and second, you’ll be deviating from the question.

Keeping your answer simple, as with the previous levels, on the other hand, will score you a much higher mark. Even if it doesn’t sound as impressive (you might not end up using that many big words), you’ll end up with a coherent, logical answer that you can express at natural speed. This is really important.

Obviously, by “simple”, I mean the simplicity of your stance, not the simplicity of the depth of your answer. Using the technology question as an example, an answer like “it has been good to mankind and it has bettered our lives a lot – I feel very comfortable with technology and I use it everyday with great ease. My parents also embrace technology in general and they love using it too, even if they’re not too good at using it.” would be too simple. The depth of the answer is no where near the level required, because there’s no depth exploration.

A better answer would be something like “technology has vastly improved the life of mankind. Let me state an example. With the advent of the Internet in the 1990’s, how we have communicated with each other has changed vastly. Suddenly, people from all over the world can now connect with each other with a button in mere seconds, with nothing but a computer and an Internet connection. Freedom of speech is also promoted. There are entire websites – forums and blogs alike – that allow us to freely vent our opinions on subjects that may be difficult to get across due to physical barriers and political freedom issues. Businesses have also been revolutionized by the Internet – thanks to this huge network of computers, how we buy and sell online have been completely re-imagined by the likes of companies like Amazon and Paypal, how we use the Internet has been enriched by companies like Facebook and Youtube, and how we search for information has been completely re-invented by search engines like Google and Yahoo.”

In both answers, the “stance” is the same – that “technology is good”, but it helps to expand to provide details as you would answer the question seriously had you been asked the same question in your mother tongue.

Coming up…

After looking at sample questions – what do you think?

Is the HSK exam as difficult as you thought?

More difficult?

Quite manageable?

My thoughts?

The HSK exam isn’t difficult.

As a matter of fact, as you’ll see, this version of the HSK test is the “new HSK test”, and compared to the old version, the folks who designed the test actually made it easier.

Yup…you heard me right!

Why, you might ask?

Well, for starters, the old HSK test was criticised for including too many non practical components. This included testing for words that nobody would bother using except for in highly esoteric cases. This greatly defeated the purpose of the HSK test in the first place – which was to test examinees’ Chinese proficiency in practical situations.

So, what does this mean for you?

It means that the content of the test isn’t difficult, if you prepare for it reasonably.

As a matter of fact, I think the (new) HSK Test swings unfairly to your favour!

This also means that exam technique is also as important in helping you get a high score in the test – because as you’ll find out, it’s not the difficulty of the questions you have to be worried about, it’s the quantity of questions you have to look out for.

Within such a constrained period of time, there are a heck of a lot of questions to finish. In fact, I’d go so far to say that you don’t have a lot of time to think…you really have to whizz through the exam!

So, after having read the section above, you’ve gotten an idea of how difficult each HSK Level is. But I hope that you’ll read on to the next section, because these tips form the bulk of helping you pass the HSK.

So stay tuned for the next section:

Part III: 32 Battle Tested Tips for Dominating the HSK (coming soon).

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