the HSK exam

China Travel Blog

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At the end of the school year comes the HSK Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (Mandarin proficiency exam) this is an all important exam for foreign students as most faculties require a minimum of level 6 (there are 8 levels in the intermediate exam) or liu ji. I had been studying somewhat hard for this exam by going to the extra pre-exam classes and working on the textbooks. Some of the students  (the Koreans in particular) were working themselves to a frazzle over it. I didn’t sweat it too much just did a bit extra, of course I had an advantage with reading comp being Japanese.

The exam is like many other language exams with a multiple choice answer sheet to fill and sealed reading material to examine. Reading comp was a synch for me I never have a problem grasping a point at a glance. Kani/Hanzi are pictographic and I am a visual person so it was really a walk in the park. The listening comp was done with headphones, which helped a lot. I had done a bit of listening to tapes of dry old Beijing toads croaking away (I hate those infernal “ers”) to prepare for the thick accents in the exam. Chinese grammar is surprisingly flexible as well as logical so this section wasn’t too bad as well.

I got level 7, which wasn’t bad especially considering how relaxed my studying was. Everyone was asking how I scored so well considering. I don’t really know but as always I seek God’s help He is all knowing and much wiser than I could ever be.

I don’t put an obsessive amount of value on exams anyway granted it is one good way to gauge proficiency levels but I think the whole exam culture has gone too far in Asia. You can be full of knowledge on grammar and idiomatic expressions but I think something spiritual adds depth, that human touch, without it how can you connect with others in a non-mechanical manner? For me language is more than mere phonetics and visual marks its emotional exchange. I’m thankful to God for the ability to communicate to share emotions with others in beautiful varied ways.   

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