HSK6 Difficulty Update / Guide
So about a month ago I posted about how the actual HSK6 exam was much harder than the practice papers, of which most are from 2013 and even the ones on the website are too easy compared to the real thing. Got my results and against expectations I passed: 81 Listening, 70 Reading, 76 Writing. Total 227/300 so about 76%. I'm clearly by no means an expert, but I went from no Chinese to passing with 2 years of part time study (admittedly 1 on 1 but only for 1.5 hours a day weekdays). Seeing as the information online is lacking imho, I thought I'd write some things I would have done from the start to make the process easier and faster.
First, the marking seems a bit strange. How did I get 81/100 when the mark is initially out of 50 for the listening and then multiplied by 2 to get the given score. Perhaps there is some kind of standardisation based on how other candidates did or the difficulty of the exam?
Apps I used: Pleco (make a list of cards of new words/characters then transfer them to a custom Memrise list every few days) Memrise. Find the HSK6 custom one (it's the most popular) with both English testing and Chinese testing to double the amount you review and burn the characters into your memory. Do 2 levels a day, but alternate between reviewing a level you learnt the day before (but this time testing your English to Chinese translation) and learning a level of new words. Du Chinese. This quickly became useless for me, apart from the Master level articles. I tested myself on the easier ones by listening to it instead and going back if I was unsure. Skritter. It's 7 GBP a month approximately. I began from HSK1 about 2 months before the test and learnt 50 a day up to HSK5 where I cancelled the subscription. You can still review on the free account just can't learnt new lists. You don't need to learn HSK6 characters to pass the writing section. Think of synonyms you know how to write and use those. I probably spent an 1.5hours on Memrise a day, and about 1 hour on Skritter.
With my teacher I just got them to explain new grammar and new words I didn't understand. I didn't use a textbook but Chinesegrammarwiki is good for free grammar.
I listened to 2/3 Chinesepod podcasts a day every day, starting from intermediate and finishing on advanced. They are sadly pretty boring but it's good practice. The advanced ones are the best by far as they are only in Chinese.
Finally I began reading a chapter / 10 pages a day of Chinese books, starting with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the Chamber of Secrets, then the Hobbit, 活着, and now 三体 a science fiction trilogy. I made a custom Memrise list of any vocabulary I encountered and did it alongside HSK6 but much slower, 5 new words a day.
I found 12 past papers online, H61001, 2, 3, 4, 5, H61327, 8, 30, 2, 3 and a sample paper on their website chinesetest.cn. Couldn't find H61329 or H61331. I used a bright green textbook of 10 practice papers alongside. The difficulty varies with these papers. Some are way too easy, some are just too easy vs the real thing. A few of the listening papers are at the level of the real thing. The reading and writing sections are the same level as the real test. I did parts of the practice papers leading up to the exam and then 4/5 days before I did an exam a day.
During the listening section, they let us open the paper before the audio began. This gives you an extra 30 seconds to skim read the answers. The answers here are longer and more complicated than the practice papers. I didn't understand a large amount of them and could only use the "listen out for key words" method.
For the reading part of the exam, I skipped the difficult "spot the incorrect sentence" section (questions 51 to 60 iirc). It is not worth the time / marks gained. Spend more time on the other sections. I just guessed A for all of them. This way you'll guarantee the reading section will be passed (although not an amazing mark).
Get a 2B mechanical pencil. Much better than a normal pencil because you won't waste precious time sharpening it, especially during the written section.
You can ask for spare paper for the writing section. Use it to write your structure and any characters you've retained in your short term memory (especially names).
I was living in Tianjin and Chengdu, teaching English 3/4 nights a week. In this way, I went from HSK5 level to HSK6 in 9 months starting from beginning the Memrise list. I probably spent a total of 5 hours a day on weekdays, 3 hours on weekends. Hope this helps someone in the future in a similar situation I was. You could also use this method to do any other lower HSK and it'd take far less time. 加油！
submitted by crawfof