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26/04/2021

The announcement of the adjustment of the Chinese Proficiency Test, commonly known as Hanyu ShuiPing Kaoshi (HSK for short), has attracted a lot of attention from students and teachers who are studying Chinese, especially those who are about to take the test. The number of HSK levels have been adjusted from the current 6 to 9, and each level is more difficult than before.

But don’t panic. As long as we learn the method correctly, go up one step at a time, get plenty of practice listening, speaking, reading, writing and grammar difficulties, key points, and mastering the exam skills, I believe we will still be able to take the exam easily.

Since the birth of HSK in 1990, it has undergone two adjustments, so people call this adjustment HSK 3.0. So, what are the new changes in the new HSK level in 2021, what is the difference in vocabulary, and how is the exam arranged? How to buy new books?

On April 20th, the special meeting on the adjustment of "International Chinese Language Education Standards for Chinese Proficiency" co-organized by the Ministry of Education of China and Beijing Language and Culture University provided provided answers to these questions. Let’s look at the changes.

New HSK 2021 Details

What is the standard of the new HSK?

The new HSK standard emphasises the uniqueness of Chinese, proposes a "four-dimensional benchmark", and adds levels 7 to 9 to the existing 6 levels. The new 9 levels are split into 3 groups or classes of 3 levels each:

Beginners - HSK Levels 1 to 3

Intermediate - HSK Levels 4 to 6

Advanced - HSK Levels 7 to 9


The vocabulary and phrases that need to be learned for each level are increased. In each level, the five skills of listening, speaking, reading, writing, and translation are examined from the perspectives of speech communication ability, topic task content, and quantitative language indicators (Chinese syllables, Chinese characters, vocabulary, and grammar), so as to comprehensively improve the quality of teaching and students Chinese level.

What changes have been made to the vocabulary of the new HSK?

The new HSK is divided into three groups or classes and nine levels, as shown in the picture at the start of this article, the new words and vocabulary that need to be learned at all levels are also increased, as shown in the following picture

Table comparing old and new HSK character and vocaabulary totals

When will the new HSK start? How to take the test?

From July 1, 2021, the new HSK (that is, three classes, nine levels) 3.0 era officially starts, but the Advanced class, 7-9 level examination will be introduced gradually. It is currently planned for the new Advanced level test to be available from December 2021, with the official launch in March 2022. The HSK Advanced class test will adopt the format of "one paper and three levels", that is, one test paper, and the level, between 7 and 9, will be determined according to the student’s score.

Where can I buy new HSK books?

Don't worry about changing to new books. The textbooks and courses of the "HSK Standard Course" currently in use can still be continued, and HSK 1-6 levels will be gradually adjusted in the next 3-5 years.

How does the current HSK exam change now?

The current test effectiveness, test content, reference vocabulary and test format remain unchanged for Level 1 to Level 6, changes will be implemented gradually. The scores of candidates who had already taken HSK 1-6 levels are still valid, and the validity of the certificates already obtained remains unchanged.

So, friends, what do you think about the new HSK? Welcome to discuss together. The new HSK is more demanding, but maybe it just inspires us to learn more and better. There is a Chinese proverb called "真金不怕火炼” which means "True gold fears no fire". After all, we learn Chinese not only for exams, but to truly understand, speak fluently, read fluently, write well. If we learn and study well, the new system need not frighten us. Isn’t that right?

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