Thoughts on HSK 2

If you want to see my thoughts on HSK 1 you can find that here. So it’s been 20 days since then (as I write this, waiting for my 30 day challenge to finish before releasing) and in this time I have done two HSK 2 tests.

I wanted to do this early so that I could really compare to see how easy the test is. For those who didn’t read the previous post about HSK 1, I was a person who understood roughly 95% of the entire test, so how is it moving to HSK 2?

Well it was only 20 days of not specifically learning for the test, and I also found HSK 2, not easy, but more than doable. I passed each test with over 80% each time (which means I scraped 80% every time by the way) so it’s by no means challenging. It’s not even been two months, and not even 50 days and I can pass it without very much trouble. It’s crazy.

The test is longer now, with more complex listening and reading sections, and the listening still highlights the most difficult problem to me. I can read back through the transcript and understand most of it, however it’s so difficult to piece it together as you listen to it, it means I really have to practice my listening! Even without the pinyin I found reading the transcript easier than the listening!

I still understand nearly all of it, however it’s more confusing, and it can often be a case of “I know all these words, but what do they mean in this order?”

Actually the list of words I didn’t know from the first test was really quite high, but even despite that it doesn’t have that many more words than the HSK1. In the first test there was 56 words that I didn’t know, but once I learned this in the second test there was only 13 words that I didn’t know. Which means theirs still a small vocabulary pool, and if you specifically learn to pass the test, you will not have much difficulty.

I never study for HSK’s, except after I do the test themselves (of course I will learn after that) and I never learn for the HSK in particular. If you study for it you shouldn’t have much trouble.

I have heard that HSK 3 needs you to memorise characters, I have done that already naturally just by learning to read them however I will need to study specifically to learn a lot of characters too, so maybe I won’t do that test until I’ve learned some characters! Or maybe I’ll try HSK 3 first to see if the reading section is about as difficult as HSK 2 but just without pinyin, if it wasn’t for that I would probably be fine doing it.

So the HSK 2 is also pretty easy. Even when I don’t know the answer passing isn’t difficult as guessing isn’t too unlikely to give results, and you can simply get the question right if you understand one word, you just have to know the specific one that you need.

This continues to be the main problem with the test, it’s not too difficult to get it right if you don’t know. Sometimes it’s 50/50, and in these cases you may not even understand a word, but just know the right answer because the individual word that should have been there wasn’t.

I’m going to take a break to really try and practice listening skills, but after that I will return and see how much easier the listening section is. It’s my opinion that it is simple, and not a matter of learning more words so much, but by being able to process them faster and recognise words when you hear them. So the listening is easy as well, I just need more practice.

I saw online that passing HSK1 and 2 can take about 5 months, considering I’m less than 2 months already and comfortably passing HSK2 shows that I’m doing ok! However of course, I do work a lot harder than they assume, I try to learn pretty much all day! I guess maybe that’s why I can pass despite not actually studying for the test in particular… who knows?

There is a matter of grammar as well. At home I’m following Chinese grammar wiki which I think is based on the HSK, but it’s how I learn grammar as it saves me from buying a textbook. Since I’ve not gone through all of the HSK 2-3 stuff I am still missing out, I think once I’ve caught up with that and learned all of those as well will be a good time to check. I’m only half way through now, but even then only a couple of the grammar points confuse me, which is a little concerning. That’s because some of the grammar isn’t too bad, and can be treated as just a missing piece of vocabulary in some cases, so it’s not something to worry about too much.

My friends who are fluent say “Chinese has no grammar” but obviously it does, if not you could just have things in any order you like. They mean it’s easier as you don’t have to conjugate verbs, however I won’t truly know for myself which is harder until I’ve learned them both.

On the one hand in English there are more dumb and stupid grammar rules and strange quirks and it’s generally kind of inconsistent, whereas Chinese seems to be more consistent, however with more grammar rules and obviously the main downside – the hanzi. Who knows? Why am I having this debate here in a place where I’m only talking about HSK2? I don’t know!

Tell me what you think, and maybe let me know how your language learning journey’s going so far!

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