posted by samanthaj on September 11, 2011 | 8 comments

I've been thinking of taking the HSK for a long time, but have so far been put off because I can't write hanzi by hand.(I can read hanzi, and write them using pinyin input)

Does anyone know if it's possible to take just the speaking/listening parts of the new test?


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crusty_138 on September 12, 2011 | reply
I just took HSK 4 and while there was a very small writing section at the end, it was mostly listening & multiple choice reading/comprehension exercises. The first writing section involved re-arranging sentences, so the characters are already there, so basically you could get by with only a little writing ability. Just swot up a bit before hand and you'll be fine
Xiao Hu on September 11, 2011 | reply

I'm in the same boat as you. I can read and write via Pinyin, however I can't write enough characters by hand to pass even the first level HSK test.

I'd strongly suggest, if you have a smart phone, download an IME that includes handwriting EG: 百度输入法, (or if you have an I phone the software is standard), and just start writing whatever you want to say using Pinyin. Next, switch to handwriting mode and copy whatever you've just written using the handwriting input, I like Baidu because it has 全屏 mode, which is really convenient because you can write over the top of the whole screen. As you work, concentrate on identifying the different components in the characters so that later it will become easier to remember how to write.

This is excellent practice, and the results are quick and stunning. Within a few months, I believe you should be able to take the full test and not worry about the handwriting portion.

Best of luck to you in your development.

Brendan on September 12, 2011 | reply
Can't speak to the HSK question -- maybe David can? -- but I'd back Xiao Hu up on using handwriting input as a way of reinforcing characters. If you're in China or have access to Chinese bookstores, 字帖 character-tracing workbooks are a great resource for this, and you can use them while you're watching TV or doing something else.

I'd be interested to know more about the new HSK as well. Personally, I've gone out of my way to keep my handwriting ability up, so I use handwriting input on my phone and make a point of doing longhand drafts of any reasonably long e-mails or documents that I write in Chinese. Then again, I don't have any particularly good reason to do this -- other than that I put a lot of work into getting the characters into muscle memory and I'd like to keep them there -- and I've met plenty of people who have decided, probably not without reason, that being able to write characters is just not a priority for them. There are more than a few Chinese people who feel the same way, and I'd love to know whether or not the new HSK reflects that. (My guess would be 'no' -- practicality is so rarely a concern when it comes to Chinese test design.)
drummerboy on September 12, 2011 | reply
Here's my two fen, for what's is worth. I just took HSK 5 in May and the writing section was a challange. With technology the way it is today it is so easy to get by without writing Chinese these days (which in my opinion is a shame because the writing is so beautiful).

There is no good substitute for pen and paper. Even today with all the tools available I prefer a good mechanical pencil and a spiral notebook. The problem is that writing the characters is SO time consuming that I find myself making that the last priority and when I was getting ready for HSK 5 I really had to brush up on the writing. As soon as I finished the test I told myself that I would maintain my writing. Well that didn't last long! I got busy and of course that is again the last priority. In a perfect world (and what I used to do) was force myself to write out everything that I was reading. As I do plan on taking HSK 6 next spring, I will have to force myself into that mode again a few months in advance.

The writing part of 5 gives you some of the same things a 4 did, with some new challanges: 2 pictues where you are asked to use the given words (4 or 5) and construct a short essasy (80-100 words). With level 6 you are given a long piece (1000 words or more) and have 10 minutes to read it over and then another time limit to rewrite to piece in a shorter format (300-400 words).

I suppose you could just skip the writing section if you didn't want to take it and you would probably get a 0. I'm not sure if it is possible to register for individual sections of the test.

I am at the point where my time is so limited I'm tempted to just give up on the writing and focus on the other aspects. However, I have already spent a few years working on the writing and while I'm nowhere near the level of fluency of Brendan, I hate to just toss all that time away and give up on writing all together. In some sort of strange way, when have the time, I find writing the characters quite relaxing and enjoyable.
pefferie on September 14, 2011 | reply
I would like to learn more about HSK, but the site seems to mention the old Beginner, Elementary, Advanced levels, not the new 1-5 ones (see for example Am I reading it wrong?
drummerboy on September 14, 2011 | reply
Lucas on September 14, 2011 | reply

Finally I have the info I was looking for: YOU DON'T NEED TO BE ABLE TO WRITE BY MEMORY TO TAKE THE HSK4.

Then I'll do it at the end of this year.

Thanks again!