If you just start learning Chinese, or thinking of it, you probably haven’t heard of the word “HSK”. It’s true, we normally need to introduce the concept to our beginner students. However, always bear in mind, we are not a test-oriented school. Our class is never about preparing you for the exam. Instead, we are using the good HSK framework, to help students progress milestone by milestone. That’s also because through out the years, we find students with a clear goal to start learning a new language go much further.

The truth is “HSK” is rather well known, and common among Chinese language learners. Most of our Intermediate onward students come to us with already a HSK level certificate, or knowing which level they are on,  or which level they want to get up to. Therefore, we introduced our HSK in-line courses  to answer to their needs. That said, for our Intermediate course onward, we are still using the language immersion method to work students towards fluency first. As the most common dilemma in learning Chinese is how to prioritize fluency and literacy. As the more vocabularies the students learn, the more important the characters are, for them to have rooted understanding of the formation of the words. Otherwise memorizing the short  and often times similar Pinyin syllabus could be proven a difficulty in advancing.

Back to HSK – officially named Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi  汉语水平考试, is an official examination organised by Hanban Institute China, designed to assess the Chinese language proficiency level of non-native speakers. The HSK Certificates awarded after passing the exam is an official mean of language proficiency proof for education and professional use. For example, if you want to apply for studying in Chinese universities, and according to some recruiters, jobs hired for Chinese domestic market would advertise with a relevant HSK level requirement.

There are a lot of HSK related information online already, normally we collect our information from the Hanban Institute website here for tests dates, official released material and fees etc. For all our students, we would help to organise the application, free of charge.

More things FREE! Practical Mandarin has taken the time to edit the HSK vocabulary lists in new dimensions. Most lists are only by word genre and alphabetic order, which means you normally start with learning the word “ai4 爱” for love, as it starts with an A. Our FREE lists are organized in Frequency of Use, and in Radicals. The lists are here on the HSK section, or in our Download Center where you need to register to download all our FREE vocabulary lists and class learning material!


It’s very easy to understand Vocabulary List by Frequency of Use is a bliss! Now you can learn the most commonly use words first, and most probably they will tend to stick to your memories since they are the first words everytime you pick up the list again.

The Vocabulary List by Radicals is another great gift (I hope so!). From Level 3, students have to be character literate to be able to take the test. Learning characters with Radicals especially the Phono-Semitic compounds is the best way.

So check out our  neat little section of HSK list or Download Center, and keep your motivation in learning high! We are always here to help!