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Anyone who got HSK 11?

DaXia   October 17th, 2011 9:52a.m.


I studied a four year undergraduate program in China a few years ago, and one of the requirements for graduating was HSK lvl 8, (which I thought was pretty low for 4 years of studies and a bachelor degree).
Anways, I was thinking about doing the advanced HSK too, just to see how well I would do, but I was busy writing my 毕业论文 so I never went through with it.

It's always been a goal of mine to get a HSK lvl of 11, because I feel that it would be a proof that my Chinese is "good enough".
I haven't been studying as much as I should these years after I graduated, and since I went home to Sweden, I haven't really gotten the chance to practice my Chinese on a daily basis like you can in China, but one day I will go back and work in China, and make sure to do it.

I was wondering if anyone here have managed to get lvl 11? If so, how hard was it? How long have you studied, and what part of the test did you think was the hardest?

...btw, my English is not the best. It sounds wrong to say "get" level 11, but I cant think of the correct word.

SkritterJake   October 17th, 2011 11:38a.m.

I would love to hear what people have to say about that as well. I'm here in Taiwan preparing for 流利級 and any tips that people might have on for that kind of test would be great.

WanLi   October 17th, 2011 12:56p.m.

I never knew that there were levels above 6 ;-(

west316   October 17th, 2011 3:22p.m.

@ DaXia - Achieved or tested out at level 11 are the ways I would say it. You could also say that you passed the level 11 test.

@ Walid

You are thinking of the new test. I get the impression the new test is a bit easier, but also a lot more practical than the old test. DaXia is referencing the old one. Most Chinese teachers can't pull off the 11 test of the old system. I had a Chinese teacher who not only was from shandong, but also had her masters in Chinese language studies and applied linguistics. She told me that she doesn't think even she could pass it. Level 8 or 9 are more than enough to say your Chinese is really good. At that point, you are probably already in the top couple of percent of foreigners.

If anyone here has passed the 10 or 11 test, I would love to hear about it, though.

Kikko-Man   October 17th, 2011 8:42p.m.

I study Japanese, but someday I think I might try to learn Chinese too. I was looking on Wikipedia about the "HSK" requirements and for the top level, it says you need 2865 characters. Isn't that a really low number?

In Japanese, we need to know about 2100 characters to read newspapers and magazines etc, but to be considered "really good" we need to know ~3000 characters. If I did learn those, do you think I could start studying Chinese and not have to worry about learning any more kanji?

Sorry if this is off topic!

GrandPoohBlah   October 17th, 2011 9:05p.m.

@Kikko-man: First, the 2865 are just the characters that are on the official list, and there are many others that you will likely learn in the process of getting to the top HSK level. Second, even though there are only 2865 characters, the number of words that you can form with those characters is much greater than that. If you know 2865 characters, you likely know 4000 or 5000 words.

I don't know to what degree knowing 3000 kanji will help you learn Chinese, but I think that it will make it a hell of a lot easier than if you didn't know any at all. I certainly don't think you'll be able to read Chinese if you only know 3000 Japanese kanji. The grammar of Chinese is different, for one thing, and it can be difficult to guess the meaning of a word or phrase if you only know the meanings of its constituent characters.

Kikko-Man   October 17th, 2011 9:22p.m.

Thanks! I've been wondering about that for a while. I guess I'll just have to actually try to learn some Chinese to see to what extent my prior knowledge will help out, huh.

Antimacassar   October 18th, 2011 6:26a.m.

It seems unlikely that someone who has HSK 11 is going to use Skritter. It's a learning tool after all (isnt it?).

@west316 So it seems that HSK it a bit like IELTS, where most native speakers would be lucky to get a 6 if they took the test without booking up prior to taking it?

Byzanti   October 18th, 2011 1:15p.m.

You can say "has anyone done/passed HSK 11"

DaXia   October 19th, 2011 6:02a.m.


IMHO, skritter is also a "maintenance" tool, and thats mostly what I have been using it as. I have probably not learned a handful of completely new characters with skritter yet. I knew a bit over 3k characters my last semester (I used ZDT those days), and with skritter i'm still around 2.5k. The important thing however, is that I have reviewed a lot of characters that I've almost forgotten with skritter, and by constantly reviewing them, it helps me not forgetting.

My point is that I see no reason why someone who would have passed hsk 11 would not be skrittering to keep "fresh". I know I would.

DaXia   October 19th, 2011 6:19a.m.

There was a Korean 中文系博士生 (Chinese major?) that I know passed 11, but she was the only one of the foreign students that passed in my school that I know of.

I wonder what would be more difficult as a foreigner: To pass the 语文高考 with almost full score, or pass HSK 11. Some of those 高考 questions are really hard (!!!)

ahickey   October 20th, 2011 10:56a.m.

I had a friend who was taking the old HSK advanced test and he said it was really hard. The hardest parts are the essay, which needs to be written at a college level and the listening, which is taken directly from the radio and the speakers often don't have standard accents.

He did say it was actually easier to get a 9 on the advanced test than a 8 on the intermediate one, since to get an 8 you need to pretty much ace the test, and it the intermediate test is really is not that easy.

Can you even take the old HSK?

ahickey   October 20th, 2011 10:59a.m.

Also "get a HSK lvl of 11" is perfectly OK for spoken american English.

Catherine :)   October 21st, 2011 6:38a.m.

hmm, that's weird. I'm from Scotland and I'd say "get" sounded much better than done/passed/achieved.. more natural! But this isn't a forum for discussing English so I'll be quiet now :P

ximeng   October 23rd, 2011 8:42a.m.

On old HSK, grades 9-11 are achieved by passing the advanced exam. I passed the exam with a grade 9 two years ago.

A few comments:

I'm not sure if the old HSK is still available to be taken. There was some political infighting between BLCU and Hanban on who should run it. The new HSK is supposed to be slightly less challenging than the old one.

I didn't do the intermediate exam, but suspect it's significantly harder to get a 9 then an 8 (the top level of the lower exam). The exercises are significantly harder in the advanced exam, and there's no requirement to write an essay at intermediate level.

The hardest part for me was the listening exam, I was just short of the grade 9 level. It's pretty fast, and uses wide-ranging vocabulary.

Some of the other sections might be a bit challenging even for native speakers. For example some of the multiple choice answers in the 综合 section are potentially slightly ambiguous and my teachers were not 100% sure of the answers without thinking through a lot. The reading is also quite time pressured. That said I got a level 10 mark on the 综合, so it can be that a bit of luck will put you up to the next level.

I think they occasionally throw in characters beyond the syllabus for some of the reading sections as well.

http://www.hsk.org.cn/download.aspx has some sample questions, you can see the approximate level.

I knew about 2000 characters on Skritter, could recognise many more, and had about 9000 words in my nciku vocab lists when I did the test. I was able to hold conversations with limited vocabulary and fluency and write a 700 character essay with similarly limited vocabulary but without too many 错别字. That was enough for level 9, with 10 on 综合. I'd probably studied around 2000 hours total to get to that level. It might have been more efficient to put more of that 2000 hours into Skritter. Other than Skritter, I'd say one-to-one classes, exam practise, general reading / TV, karaoke, and some group classes were the other main study methods I used.

If you know 2500 characters in Skritter you're probably not far off what you need for the exam. Just passing at grade 11 on its own would not show your Chinese was good enough for work, but it would be a good start. My guess would be that 高考语文 would be harder as the grading will be stricter. 普通话水平测试 also looks to me to have stricter requirements in some ways than HSK, although they're quite different exams.

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