I found a brief note on Wikipedia that since 2020, HSK is going to be restructured. It links to a tweet, which shows a page in Chinese. Is there any more information compared to what Wikipedia currently states? If not, are there any educated guesses that can be made based on prior two changes to HSK structure and the way Hanban works?
TL;DR (19 January 2023): According to the official standards (watermark removed; English translation (paid)), there are 9 levels (elementary: 1,2,3; intermediate 4,5,6; advanced; 7,8,9). The standards introduce three new components: spoken Chinese, translation (to Chinese), and handwriting. The first level-(7,8,9)-combined exam was on the 26th November 2022. This didn't have a handwriting component, but this may be due to COVID.
Resources: Chinese Zero to Hero course (paid, includes vocabulary [incomplete] and grammar); Mega Mandarin flashcards (paid); HSK3.0 vocabulary by A-V-A-Weyland along with other sources such as Chinese Forums (free), and github (HSK-official-Query-System (free) and elkmovie (free)); and ChineseTest.cn via the link 《标准》查询 (free); Anki decks (free) e.g. 1 2; TofuLearn (free) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7-9a 7-9b.
Textbooks: Grammar 语法学习手册 (elementary, intermediate and, advanced); handwriting 汉字书写手册 (elementary, intermediate, and advanced); vocabulary 词汇速记速练手册 (level 1 and 2); and a dictionary (elementary) 国际中文学习词典. These are available for purchase on websites like JingDong and TaoBao.
At the time of writing, the best guess is that the HSK 3.0 vocabulary list is in the recently-published book:
A Practical Manual of Tone Patterns and Formats of Stressed and Unstressed Syllables in Mandarin Words for the Application of Teaching Chinese to the Speakers of Other Languages
刘英林, et al.
(Edit: Note this manual is different to the official standards, e.g. 爱 is level 1 in the official standards, while 爱 is level 2 in this manual.)
A redditor posted images of some of the pages from this book on Imgur (from this post; I transcribed some of it here). I bought this book from JingDong (also available here), and posted about it on Reddit. The guess is primarily based on a tweet from an account called HSK Official:
HSK is about to be reformed. #HSK In 2020, the Chinese Proficiency Standards will usher in a new change: a hybrid paradigm of “Three Stages and Nine Levels” characterized by integration and all-in-one.
刘英林, et al. (available here)
[Edit (6 August 2023): I deleted this part to reduce my character count. Check the version history. This book is not very relevant nowadays.]
2 November 2020: the Redditor goeastmandarin (from the company Go East Mandarin) posted a photo of a meeting about HSK3.0 (also on Twitter). The photo in the slide is identical to the table above. The Chinese says:
[My translation:] Chinese international education Chinese-level standard grading
HSK3.0 only adds levels 7 through 9, levels 1 through 6 are unchanged
Above, "unchanged" seems interpretable as "unchanged as a whole". (Specifically, if a vocabulary word belongs within levels 1 through 6 in HSK2.0, then it will belong within levels 1 through 6 in HSK3.0.) The numbers in the table are not consistent with individually unchanged HSK levels.
1 April 2021: There was an official announcement of changes to the HSK, and it includes a 260-page document describing the changes in detail (see also: version with watermark removed). The changes are reported to be implemented on July 1, 2021.
The changes are summarized in a GoEast post: New HSK levels for learning Chinese (Update April 2021). What we didn't expect already is item 4 from this post:
4: Hanzi handwriting and translation skills are added, in addition to listening, reading, speaking, and writing skills
13 April 2021: Anki decks containing the new HSK vocabulary and characters are provided via Reddit. Ninchanese has a "fact vs. rumor" post. They point to this Tweet by the official HSK account (made in March this year):
There will be no changes for HSK 1-6 this year
15 April 2021: Chinese-Forums user mungouk claims to have received an email from chinesetest.cn, stating:
- The current HSK 1-6 levels will not be changed for the present.
- Under the premise of ensuring the stability of HSK 1-6, the advanced HSK (level 7-9) is under development, which is mainly aimed at international students who are majoring in Chinese language and literature, and international students in other majors with a high level of Chinese, overseas Sinology researchers and so on.
- The advanced HSK (level 7-9) is scheduled to be launched as early as the second half of this year.
The latest information about HSK will be released on our official websites (http://www.chinese.cn/ and http://www.chinesetest.cn/), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HSKTestOfficial-107674817613428) and twitter (https://twitter.com/HSKTestOfficial), please keep an eye on our official publicity.
22 April 2021: A HSK Official tweet asserts:
[Google Translate]: The currently implemented HSK 1-6 levels will not be adjusted in the near future, and the test effectiveness, test content, reference vocabulary and test format will remain unchanged and will continue to be implemented stably. The scores of candidates participating in HSK 1-6 levels are still valid, and the validity of the certificates already obtained remains unchanged.
They also discuss the HSK7-9 rollout in a QQ post:
[Google Translate]: It takes a process to scientifically develop HSK Levels 7-9 according to the "Standard". Currently, it is planned to take the test in December 2021 and officially launch the test in March 2022.
~2021: Chinese Zero to Hero has a searchable webpage with the HSK7-9 vocabulary, including e.g. English translations.
2 March 2022: A new textbook 国际中文教育中文水平等级标准·语法学习手册（初等）has been released (see also news at chinesetest.cn). It's a grammar textbook for the HSK 3.0 levels 1-3. It's available for purchase at Jingdong, Taobao, and Dangdang where you can preview some pages (the Dangdang link has the whole table of contents). The QQ page states that the intermediate and advanced levels will be released in the third or fourth quarter of 2022:
1 April 2022: There's a new official HSK app called Wo Hui Mandarin which I think is related to the HSK 3.0. It's in development and you can sign up for a test account.
18 May 2022: New HSK levels 7-9 had a trial run (see QQ page):
[Baidu Translate]: On May 15, 2022, the international Chinese Proficiency Test HSK advanced (level 7-9) was tested. The test was held in 9 test sites around the world at the same time. More than 500 candidates from South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, the United States, Russia and other countries participated in the test in the form of online home online test.
[Baidu Translate]: According to the test results and the analysis of candidates' questionnaires, CETC will optimize the structure and content of the test paper, and officially launch the HSK advanced (level 7-9) test in the second half of this year. The hsk1-6 test currently being implemented will not be subject to difficulty adjustment in the next few years. The test content and effectiveness will remain unchanged and will be implemented simultaneously with the upcoming level 7-9 test. Chinese learners are welcome to apply for the corresponding level of HSK test according to their own conditions.
20 May 2022: a Reddit user describes their experience taking the trial HSK7-9 exam:
The set up was the same as that of the current take home HSK tests - download the software, and film yourself in a group video conference. But I didn’t appreciate the significance that you had to download different Chinese input software, which meant I couldn’t type answers and had to withdraw halfway. Previously this input software wasn’t required.
Fortunately there are no more grammar questions. Just comprehension questions.
They had a section in which you had to put whole paragraphs in order in an essay. Which seems like something that should be very coachable.
The software was sogou pinyin.
21 May 2022: A YouTube video (in Korean and Chinese) gives a description of the HSK7-9 trial exam. If it's correct, the exam has 4 sections: listening (3 parts); reading (3 parts); writing (2 parts); speaking (2 parts). Translation is into Chinese, and is part of the writing and speaking sections. She didn't mention handwriting. There's more about this at Chinese-forums.
3 July 2022: Chinesetest.cn now has a webpage with the HSK 3.0 vocabulary (click 《标准》查询).
14 July 2022: A series of videos discussing the reform is here. The video by 黄蕾 includes how levels 7-9 break apart:
19 July 2022: A paper 《国际中文教育中文水平等级标准》的中国特色和解读应用 by 刘英林, 李佩泽, and 李亚男 was published about the standards. Of most relevance to the readers here are:
This highlights how the post-reform levels 1-6 will lean towards oral Chinese, whereas levels 7-9 will lean towards written Chinese.
They discuss HSK 3.0 design decisions, and in particular highlight the above proportionality. (音节 = "syllable"; 汉字 = "hanzi" (Chinese characters); 词汇 = "vocabulary" (vocabulary items); 语法 = "grammar" (grammar items); 音节与汉字比 = "proportion of syllables to hanzi"; 词汇与汉字比 = "proportion of words to hanzi".)
The also comment that the elementary level is also called a "popularization level" (初等水平也称为普及化水平), depending on how you translate 普及.
21 July 2022: An English translation of the official standards is now on sale; see report:
The book is described as having definitions and parts of speech, and is equivalent to a concise Chinese-English dictionary. It can be purchased at JingDong, DangDang, SinoBook; etc. (Thanks to shawky.nasr at Chinese Forums.)
7 September 2022: It may not be related to the HSK 3.0, but the paper version of the HSK in 中国地区（含港澳台） (China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan) in 2023 (starting January next year) is reported to require the HSKK (汉语水平口语考试):
20 October 2022: The inaugural HSK 7-9 exams have been announced! They're reported to start on 26th November worldwide, and there's currently there's no paper-based test.
The format of the HSK 7-9 exam is given below:
It says the testing time is 210 minutes long in total; it's a very long test:
See my post at chinese-forums for a translation.
26 October 2022: While the chinesetest.cn website enables you to enroll for a mock HSK7-9 exam. I tried it just now and it doesn't start, and instead gives the popup:
Wrong examination certificate number or password, please re-enter!
31 July 2023: A meeting regarding "HSK reform and development" is advertised for August 5. The two presentations are:
黄蕾，HSK发展历程与新发展趋势 (HSK development course and new development trends)
罗莲，对HSK1-6级考试题型的思考 (Thoughts on the HSK 1-6 exam question style)
6 August 2023: I watched the livestream of the above-mentioned presentations, and tried to jot down what I thought was relevant (apologies for any mistakes):
黄蕾 mostly talked about the history, and transitioning from HSK 1.0 to HSK 2.0, and the number of test takers. She emphasized HSK 3.0 will focus more on communication, academia, and Chinese culture. She said the work to 修订大纲、词汇 (revision) will begin in 2023, and 开展 (launch) will begin in 2023 or 2024. She mentioned mock HSK7-9 exams for 2024.
罗莲 shared her ideas for HSK1-6 reform. She systematically went through the four sections listening 听, reading 读, writing 写, and speaking 说 (but not translation), and the six levels HSK1-6, and how they might change. There was way too much info being presented to keep up with.
听: She said HSK1-3 does not include enough 书面语, but HSK4-6 contains too much 书面语 and the talking speed is too fast; she mentioned HSK4-6 might also contain accents and dialects.
读: Like with listening, she said HSK1-3 does not include enough 书面语, but HSK4-6 contains too much 书面语. She strongly criticized how there is pinyin on the HSK1-3 exams. She criticized the HSK6 语病 ("faulty wording") questions, saying they give you four unrelated sentences, and she would prefer a paragraph. She praised the HSK6 "fill in the blank with a sentence" section.
写: For HSK1-4, she gave examples where the student is given a sentence, and they're asked to rewrite it using a particular grammar pattern (I recall 是……的 and 宁可……也 in particular). For HSK4 I saw mention of cloze sentences and different writing styles. She criticized how HSK5 students are not writing long sentences, and specifically criticized the "five words" writing section of the HSK5. She criticized the HSK6 缩写 section as only having one task, and listed 3 writing tasks, including 中长篇 and 读后写.
说: (She was running out of time, so we had to rush.) She strongly emphasized how 朗读 (reading aloud) is only suitable for elementary students. She also wanted speaking to be more interactive.
Beyond this, there was mention of handwriting (but I didn't catch anything specific), and writing better reports (to give students better feedback).
The biggest surprise for me was: she talked about collaborating with AI companies. (Again, the relevant conversation was really quick, due to time.) She talked about using AI to interact with students in the oral section, and she flashed up a slide, and it appears that they're thinking about doing virtually all the HSK exam marking via AI (it listed ~5 uses for AI in the HSK 3.0).
The web page has a link to a PDF of the 260-page draft standard. Official implementation date is 1 July.
There are a bunch of new things coming to HSK starting June 1st. Heres a list of new things that'll change going into the new HSK!
- There will now be 9 HSK levels instead of 6!
- There will be 300 new characters
- Because of this, the amount of new words in each level vary
- But， this will lead to level 1,2,3,4 becoming much harder
- Achieving a HSK9 would mean you have to know 5636 Mandarin Chinese Words!