For someone who already made decision to take one of the 6 HSK levels tests, you may also got a study plan by yourself. But for someone who is still thinking about which level to take and wonder how long does it take to prepare for each level, this article can help you a lot.
If you have no or very limited knowledge of Chinese and know nothing about basic Chinese words and phrases, you need to start from scratch and go through the survivor Mandarin. After you acquire 150 basic Chinese words (written in Pinyin) from the HSK Level 1 vocabulary list and master the most basic HSK 1 grammar, you will be ready to take the HSK 1 test.
Before you take the test, make sure you can understand and use very simple Chinese words and phrases, and meet the most basic communication needs. This process might take about half year depending how much commitment you make.
If you know some basic words and phrases but find it hard to produce fluently the daily communication in Chinese, your objective would be a good grasp of basic Chinese and can communicate in simple way. To pass HSK 2, the single method is to learn another 150 Chinese words of HSK Level 2 vocabulary list plus the previous 150 words from HSK 1, and master HSK Level 2 related grammar. Based on the HSK 1 knowledge, you’ll find yourself more competent to finish all the HSK 2 preparation within one year.
HSK 3 is a combination of HSK 1 and HSK 2, but the huge difference is that from HSK 3, all the questions in the test paper will be written in characters, meaning no Pinyin to rely anymore. So test takers should start learning Chinese characters systematically. HSK 3 asks the test takers to communicate in Chinese at a basic level in their daily, academic and professional lives. To achieve this, you need to review the words from HSK 1 and 2, plus another 300 words from HSK 3 vocabulary list, all in characters. Sounds complicated already, huh? Don’t worry, if you already passed HSK 2 and had knowledge of characters while learning HSK 1 and 2, this process will take much less time. For example, 2-3 class hours per week for 1 year will guarantee you an acceptable note for HSK 3.
HSK 4 test is designed for test takers who want to discuss a wider range of topics in Chinese and are capable of communicating fluently with native speakers. Also a 600 words vocabulary list and HSK 4 related grammar make sure you express yourselves with confidence on familiar subjects related to your daily and professional lives.
In order to prepare for the HSK Level 5, make sure you already can talk with native speakers in Chinese fluently and effectively. But you may still have difficulty in delivering a long speech. If you want to further your study and read Chinese newspapers and magazines, watch Chinese films without English subtitles, then you need to acquire 1500 Chinese words (including words from HSK Level 1 to 4) and master HSK Level 5 related grammar. This may require you to spend 2-3 class hours per week for one year and half, which means its total hour would be about 800 hours.
You will need over 2500 words written in characters and master HSK Level 6 related grammar to pass HSK 6. This level is designed for test takers who can understand a wide range of demanding topics, understand implicit meanings, but still have some difficulty in expressing yourself spontaneously, and precisely. Therefore, by preparing for the HSK 6, you will be able to easily comprehend written and spoken information in Chinese and can effectively express yourselves in Chinese, both in written and oral form.