HSK is getting modernized! The new HSK levels are announced, even though they’re not fully implemented yet. And another exciting change has come to HSK exams, namely that they can — under some special conditions — be taken online!
What was the old situation?
HSK exams were always held in dedicated HSK examination centers. Two options were given, 纸笔Zhǐ bǐ (Paper & pen) and 网考Wǎng kǎo (Internet test). Even though the latter may suggest it, there was no official online test that you can do from home, you simply could do the test on a computer in the center that was connected to Hanban servers.
The computer test was popular because the exams from HSK3 to HSK6 include “writing”, which on paper is a lot more difficult than using Pinyin on a computer. Another benefit is that you receive your scores from a “computer exam” after two weeks, whereas a paper exam takes double that time.
If you want to read the details of these exams such as how to register or the dates, head to our article HSK exams.
How to do the HSK exam from home
Now, Hanban (the official examinator) allows you to do the HSK exam from home as long as you meet special requirements.
These requirements vary a bit depending on in which country you take the test, because the local offices that handle the exams all have their own documents, but in a nutshell:
- You have a computer that can download the required software, plus you have an internet connection!
- You need to have a room that meets the requirements of the test
- You follow the rules of the Online Chinese Test (Home Edition)
- You register for the test on the official website, www.chinesetest.cn
(Yet some of the rules clearly don’t make sense. We found for instance the line:
“Make sure your mobile phone is Wi-Fi connected, airplane mode turned on and fully charged.”
This isn’t possible; when airplane mode is turned on, you can’t turn on Wi-Fi.)
Anyway, let’s go through the rules. They may vary a tiny-tiny bit depending on which country you’re taking the test in.
1 — Computer & software requirement
If you have a Windows computer with an internet connection you probably meet these requirements.
- The software is only available for Windows 7 onwards, so this test is not for MacOS, iOS or Android. When you register for the exam you’ll get a download link.
- The internet speed requirement is 150KB/s, which nearly all connections achieve these days.
- The recommended display resolution is at least 1440×900 (you can find the setting in “Display settings” on your computer) so that you can easily read the questions.
- You must also have a webcam that is above 0.3MP, which modern webcams have.
- During the exam, you must provide an alternative camera angle for the examinators. You can use a tablet, mobile phone or second laptop. You need to log onto Zoom and turn on your device before and during the exam. The Zoom link will be sent to you one hour before the exam. Make sure the batteries of your device are charged, or that it’s plugged in!
- Set this camera (laptop/smartphone/tablet) one meter behind your computer and make sure that the examiner can see the computer and yourself. Is one meter not enough? Well…. We guess the examinator seeing your computer is more important than the one meter.
- During the test, you must wear wired headphones. Wireless Bluetooth headphones are not allowed. If you’re taking the HSKK exam you must also have a microphone.
- If you are taking the HSK3 exam or above, you also need to download the Chinese keyboard in advance. Go to “Settings” > “Change PC Settings” > “Time & Language” > “Region & Language.” Click on “Add a Language” and select “Chinese (Simplified, China).”
- Put an ID card on your desk! The examiner may ask you during the name-call before the test to show this one.
Test everything beforehand! If one of your cameras doesn’t work, your test is probably going to marked as a failure.
2&3 — Requirement for the room & rules
Of course, you’re not allowed to cheat on the test. Specifically, the way of testing you do not mean:
- Your room should be quiet, well lit and free from any interference. This means you can’t do it in a public library or classroom with other people, nor in a living room.
- The rules don’t specifically say only one person is allowed in the room, but for the avoidance of doubt we advise this. During the test communication with any person is allowed.
- You can’t have anyone enter the room either, so inform your housemates not to do so during the test!
- Also, you’re not allowed to go to the bathroom during the test.
- You cannot have any pieces of paper lying around (because they may include some notes), and you cannot use any mobile device or books. We think you can have a bookshelf in the background, but just don’t put a book on your desk (especially not a HSK book…)
Yes, if you fail to meet any of these rules, your test will probably be marked as a failure.
4 — Registering for the HSK at home exam
This is just done as the usual way. For tips on this, check our article on HSK exams.
Ok, so a final checklist to do a HSK exam online?
- Study hard! Here’s a link to our online Chinese language courses
- Register for the HSK exam
- Download the software
- Install the Chinese keyboard on your computer (if you’re taking HSK3 or beyond)
- Prepare your room!