In other languages, exam levels follow a logical vocabulary progress:
1) greet, buy a sandwitch
2) buy a freshly-made sandwitch at a reasonable price
3) tell your friends why they should buy a sandwitch and not an ice-cream
What is the logic behind the HSK levels?
I'm trying to take HSK2 and I find it very hard to make sense of the lists. They look totally random to me. There are no complete vocabulary groups, there are no topic units, there is no clear explanation of what the learning outcome is. If I had to learn chinese fast and get a certificate for professional reasons, I think I'd hate it.
I have enough time and dedication to learn more words than necessary for the HSK2, but I think people who have a tight schedule or are expected to handle business matters fast in chinese will find it a waste of time to study random lists of unrelated words.
I'd rather have an exam based on learning outcomes and practical use, not the number of isolated words one can master.
There's nothing random about the HSK. HSK 1 - 3 represent the quotidian verbiage of day - to - day life. HSK 4 - 5 represent the vocabulary pertaining to business, education, and government.
HSK is a Chinese language test, so it follows Chinese logic/ thinking ways, which is totally different to the LETTERS language sysytem, (sorry I don't know how to describle it properly). We also find it hard when we take IELTS, probably because we hold on to our mother tongue too much.
If you need the HSK certificate, this is the official webpage：
You can download or buy a practice book there. I'm not a bookseller, I tutor HSK and I know this webpage is the only one which has the official / useful materials.
If you don't need the certificate but you'd like to learn practical Chinese, be prepared to put in A LOT of time and practice, try not to translate and keep an open mind to this language, then you'll be fine. Patience and repetition is the key to learn Chinese. It also kind of explains Chinese character, doen't it :) Good luck.
I try to focus on the practical side, but unfortunately certificates are a must for work and/or further studies. That's why I find HSK is not very practical: it is not clear what you can do with the language.
Thanks for the insights.
Bad news. You can’t gain both of them at the same time. We always have official/ text ways and daily/practical ways. You got to pick one to start with. Otherwise you are just wasting your time and stuck there.
Don’t study the word lists, that’s the wrong way. You should do the exercise in the practice book and learn from every mistake you make, meanwhile, try to get used to the HSK test designers’ thinking ways so that you can guess the test points / answer when you don’t know the answer.
And finally, faster results in communication is another story. The fastest learners among my students is either VERY smart or they live with a native speaker.