Selection of images from Fragrant Mandarin YouTube videos

Why You May Be Limiting Your Learning - Take These 2 Chinese Level Tests Now!

A question mark asks, what is your Chinese level?

Testing your Chinese level every now and then is a crucial part of maximising your learning. As well as answering the burning question, "What HSK level am I?!" It allows you to find the perfect new resources at your level or discard any resources that are now obsolete. It makes you focus on pushing your level at the perfect pace. The two Chinese level tests I mention below will give you the tools to test your Chinese level. The main focus of these tests is your reading comprehension and grammar. The first is a super quick Chinese reading test - it will give you a specific estimate for the number of words in your Chinese character vocabulary. The second is more comprehensive. As well as testing your reading ability, it will challenge your grammar and overall proficiency of Mandarin. Skip to the bottom to find out what the test results mean. Our film below covers the two Chinese level tests featured here and what you should do once you know your level:

Chinese Character Test

Screenshot of asking if you know the word 性别

The first Chinese level test (a Chinese character test) is super quick. You’ll need to have some knowledge of simplified Chinese characters, as there’s no pinyin. Check it out here. The character test will give you a piece of vocabulary - simply answer yes if you recognise the character and understand the meaning. In general, if you say yes, it will give you a harder piece of vocabulary. If you say no, it will give you an easier piece of vocabulary. The Chinese characters this test is based on use the HSK levels. So as you progress it will move up and down the ladder. E.g. from HSK 2 to 3 to 4 and back to 3 if you start coming across new vocab.

Mandarin Test of Proficiency

screenshots of the first test questions

The second test is more of an exam-style test. It will give you a wider estimate and is a test of your overall mandarin proficiency. It takes around 15 minutes. It’s also a good Mandarin Chinese test for beginners because it starts off easy and gets progressively harder. Despite that, the test is in Chinese characters, so if you’re still using pinyin then this may not be for you. Note that we found from testing our friends that this test tends to overestimate everyone’s ability a little bit. Click here for this Mandarin test of proficiency.

What HSK Level Am I?

A breakdown of each of the HSK levels

If you haven’t done at least one of the tests already, now is a good time to do so. How did you do? Let’s dive into what your results mean. Depending on who you ask, a beginner may be classified as someone all the way up to HSK 3. Usually, the beginner category falls between 0 and 2. The different classifications all vary substantially so I labelled them below to illustrate how.

A breakdown of Chinese learners proficiency

HSK levels are also given a number for vocabulary. The problem with this is that if you haven’t learned through a standardised HSK level path, it’ll be a bit off.

A visual representation of required vocab per HSK level

Another thing to note is that most Chinese learners or teachers I’ve asked feel that 600 words aren’t enough to justify an intermediate level in Mandarin. When in doubt, take the average. I.e. Beginner at HSK 1.5, intermediate at HSK 4. Depending on your unique learning path, you’ll be somewhere close to that.

Tested Your Chinese Level - What Now?

Once you’ve tested your Chinese level, it’s time to pick some new materials and continue improving. In our video above we recommended three specific resources because they all tailor to different levels of learners. We’re not affiliated with any, they’re just brilliant. If you want to improve your Chinese reading comprehension, check out DuChinese. DuChinese has a wealth of texts graded from beginner to virtually fluent. If you don’t recognise a word or phrase, you can click to reveal the meaning. You can use their website or their app. There are a few stories free each week or a subscription to see everything. If you want to improve you listening ability, check out Popup Chinese. These guys have a whole host of lessons at three tiers of difficulty. It’s a great way to learn colloquial language and get your ear adjusted to native speakers. The third, is a website called Hacking Chinese. Olle, the owner of the site, has collated an incredible selection of resources at all levels. It’s a great place to find new apps, websites and other materials to play with. ~ I hope that this article has helped you better understand your Chinese level. If you’d like more content to help you improve your Chinese, you can check out our YouTube Fragrant Mandarin. Till next time!

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