02 Dec 09:00 - 17:00 - Shanghai
Miracle Mandarin Chinese Language School
Anyone having studied Chinese for any length of time will have heard of the HSK. For those that have not, it’s the Chinese Proficiency Test (汉语水平考试) similar to tests such as IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) which are used to test English proficiency.
What significance does the HSK have for academic and professional progression inside and outside of mainland China? What weight do the HSK examinations hold compared to other, better known qualifications?
++ Where is the HSK recognised
To give some context to this issue, we must consider where the HSK is recognised. Designed and administered from China, the HSK is a recognised and respected qualification in China. Having said this, there are HSK test centres around the world, meaning that the majority of Chinese learners can take the HSK examination in their home country. This has helped to give increased exposure to the qualification.
Although the HSK is best known Chinese Proficiency Test in China for adults, it is not without competition. In China there are also the BCT exams to test candidates business Chinese ability, the YCT exams for children and the HSKK exams to test oral ability. There is also the TOCFL (Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language) which is administered from Taiwan. While the HSK is a good reference point for schools and employers in Taiwan, TOCFL is often considered to be more challenging than the HSK and is the only official test for Chinese proficiency in Taiwan.
The HSK exams are a great way to prove your dedication to and progression in learning Chinese. Many teachers of Chinese now encourage their students to take the exams so students can test their skills according to set criteria and see themselves improve over time. The Chinese GCSE examination is roughly equivalent to HSK Level 3, while the Chinese A-Level examination is about the same level as HSK Level 5. There are, however, big differences in the style and content of the tests. Taking the HSK gives students a qualification that is internationally comparable, which is something lacking from many school and university courses (although the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is helping hugely with this).
With 6 levels of examinations, the next milestone is always clear – progressing up the levels over time can give students a clear goal in their studies.
++ Applying for scholarships/university
Outside of China, the largest benefit of having a HSK qualification is that it gives an immediate indication of your level of Chinese and proves you have made significant progression. Most schools and universities will not recognise it as credit but it still looks great on applications for scholarships and university places.
A HSK qualification serves as excellent proof of your existing Chinese level if you are applying to study Chinese at university. Some universities offer tiered entry into Chinese, meaning you may be placed in a higher set if you have already studied Chinese. A HSK qualification is an ideal way to let your institution know you have a definite foundation in the language.
The most important place to show off your HSK qualifications, however, is in China. Excellent exam results can lead to offers of scholarships. When applying for scholarships in Chinese institutions, the HSK qualification is a pre-requisite. The majority of Chinese universities will require HSK Level 4 or 5 for overseas applications to its courses. So if you want to study in a Chinese university, the HSK examination is very important.
++ Applying for jobs/internships
The HSK qualification will always be an asset on any CV when applying for jobs outside of China. However, it is unlikely the qualification will be enough to get you a job using Chinese, you will also be tested in interviews to double check your Chinese skills are really up to scratch. For jobs not directly using Chinese, it is always great to highlight your HSK qualification so your employers know they have the option of using your Chinese skills later on – it may just secure you the job!
In China the situation can vary. Many employers will not require a HSK qualification or any Chinese language knowledge at all if what they are looking for is a native English speaker or someone with specific skills other than language ability. However, some companies in China do advertise for candidates to have a minimum of HSK 4 or 5. To widen your options for career opportunities in China, it is highly recommended to prove your Chinese ability by taking the HSK examination.
The importance of HSK for Chinese language learners ranges from desirable to necessary. If your end goal is to attend a Chinese university, you must take the higher-level HSK examinations and achieve a good score. For overseas universities and your job search in China and elsewhere, while a HSK qualification is rarely required, it’s an impressive addition to your other experience and qualifications. The HSK exams are a great way to push yourself on to the next level of Chinese, something you will be thankful for when working, studying or doing business with China and in Chinese.
If you are in Shanghai, book the date and take your HSK examination at the most convenience area of Shanghai Jing'an at Miracle Mandarin Chinese Language School