The new HSK is a globally recognized test for students learning Mandarin Chinese as a second language. There are six levels of difficulty in the HSK, and four language components are tested. Level 1 of the HSK tests students on reading and listening skills only, and the written portion of the exam includes Pinyin along with the Chinese characters. Students may take the internet-based exam or the handwritten exam, depending on their preference. The suggestions below will prepare you for when you take the Level 1 HSK exam.
Suggestion one: Understand the HSK1 test format and rules
Test takers who are able to pass the HSK (Level I) can understand and use very simple Chinese words and phrases, meet basic needs for communication and possess the ability to further their Chinese language studies. You will acquire 150 basic Chinese characters and master the most basic HSK grammar.
Content and Duration of the Level 1 HSK Exam
The Level 1 HSK exam includes sections on reading and listening comprehension. There are 40 questions in the exam, which are shown in the chart below.
The exam lasts for a total of 40 minutes, which includes the 5 minutes it should take for students taking the exam to fill in their personal information.
Test Structure for HSK (Level I)
Part I contains 5 items. Test takers will listen to each item twice. Each item is a phrase. There is a picture about it on the test paper, and test takers should judge if the content of the picture is right or wrong based on what he/she has heard.
Part II contains 5 items. Test takers will listen to each item twice. Each item is a sentence. Three pictures are given on the test paper and test takers should select the one corresponding with what he/she has heard.
Part III contains 5 items. Test takers will listen to each item twice. Each item is a dialogue. Several pictures are given on the test paper and test takers should select the one corresponding with what he/she has heard.
Part IV contains 5 items. Test takers will listen to each item twice. For each item, one person will say a sentence and the other person will ask a question based on the sentence and offer 3 options. Test takers should select an answer based on what he/she has heard.
Part I contains 5 items. For each item, a picture and a phrase are given and test takers should judge if they correspond with each other.
Part II contains 5 items. Several pictures are given on the test paper; one sentence is given for each item and test takers should select the picture corresponding with the content of the sentence.
Part III contains 5 items. 5 questions and 5 answers are given and test takers should find out the matchup relationship.
Part IV contains 5 items. For each item, one sentence is given with one blank, and test takers should select the best answer from the options given to make the sentence complete.
Pinyin is given for all the items on the test paper.
Test Score Reports
The test score report includes listening, reading, and total scores. A score of 120 or more represents a pass.
HSK scores used for applications to Chinese Institutions of higher learning are valid for 2 years from the test date. Longer periods of validity may be recognized in other contexts.
Be aware certain requirements of this levels above.
Suggestion two: Build up HSK1 vocabulary and review the grammar
As you are aware, there are 150 basic Chinese characters that you need to be comfortable with. (The Vocabulary Book for HSK1-3 is available on Amazon for this purpose, or you can download the vocabulary list online.) Once you have the vocabulary list, look for words that you are not familiar with and create Post-It notes with the definitions of the words you need to learn (one Post-It note for each word). Flashcards are another option for this; create them and then study your vocabulary list along with any other aspects of the language that you are studying.
Since all of the textbooks correspond with the material you will see on the exam, you should review the grammar you learned from these textbooks. Writing a paper in Chinese will help you see what areas you need to improve, as far as grammar and other aspects go.
Suggestion three: Do official mock papers
Download and practice taking HSK1 official mock paper. As HSK is timed, it is critical that you practice as many sample exam questions as possible and work to build up your speed.
Get your listening comprehension and reading speed to the required level by doing mock exams. Try to finish your mock exams inside the official time limit.
(You can easily buy the HSK1 book on Amazon). And meanwhile read Chinese Breeze books will help with your reading skills.
Here I strongly recommend you should do mock paper online at least once before real exam, which will give you a feel of the real exam and when you take the real exam you won’t feel you are doing something new or different, you will be confident.
Suggestion four: About the real HSK1 test
Get plenty of rest the night before your test. Take the time to refresh your memory of the test rules, test format and location so that you feel as relaxed as possible.
When it’s time to take the listening portion of the exam, be sure that you can hear the audio properly. If you cannot, then raise your hand immediately and notify the proctor that the audio is not working.
During the test, stay calm and focus on doing your best. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself if you’re feeling anxious. Don’t rush through the exam; only go to the next question after you’ve taken adequate time to answer the previous one.
Remember, you will have three minutes after listening to the audio in which you can answer the questions in the exam. This is not true of the reading portion of the exam, in which you are expected to fill in the answers as you go through each section.
Good Luck on your Road to HSK!