Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Studying for the HSK

I realize that I haven't written since the end of February, but I've actually got very good reason -- I've been studying my tail off for the official Chinese language test, the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi 汉语水平考试, better known as the HSK.  Although my time in China has been over for almost four months already, I don't want my year there to be for naught.  Considering I was more or less a beginner when I first arrived, you could argue that I know I can speak Chinese at a fairly decent level now.  However, it was a personal goal of mine to at least reach a solid intermediate level.  I even wrote what my goal was in this blog post.  My goal wasn't ever so concrete that I specifically said I wanted to take a test, but at the same time, it got me to constantly learn every day while not being in the country.

After leaving Shanghai, I kept saying to myself, "Sure, I'll sign up for the HSK," which is only offered here in Düsseldorf twice per year.  I handed in my registration the day before it closed, not wanting to wait until the fall to take it.  I had been a bit indecisive which level to take, either HSK3 or HSK4.  The main difference is the number of vocabulary words that appear (600 vs. 1200, cumulatively) and the grammatical concepts.  I decided to take level 3 because I figured I don't actually need the certificate for anything in particular, e.g. studying at a university or for a job.  I'm really glad I decided on level 3 because I soon realized there were a lot of gaps in my vocab and grammar that I needed to fill!  So here's how I spent the last few weeks studying.