Right, so I was going to write some long, hyper-intellectual post about my HSK score and what it reveals about me, but some Brazillian’s Google search that led to this blog led me on to this, and then this, and then…… and then…..

Thanks, anonymous Brazillian. That was a pretty good series of distractions.

Oh, and we don’t know how lucky we are….

Now, that HSK thing…..

So, umm, yeah. Well, I got this phone call about half past ten this morning asking “你是王博吗?” (Are you Wang Bo?), having no idea who was calling, I hesitantly responded “是” (yes). And then he said my HSK results were waiting at the front desk of the foreign students’ dorm. So I grabbed my stuff, slipped some sandals on, and went down there.

But I felt really nervous, ridiculously nervous. More nervous than when I even sat the test! That’s absurd! I’ve never felt that way about exam results before ever in my life!

Anyway, I got the results, got home, and opened the envelope.

Inside was a certificate saying in Chinese:


And in English:

Let it be known that Chris Waugh [yeah, I see no need to put my full name up here] from New Zealand took the Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) administered on Apr. 27, 2008, obtaining grade B at the Intermediate level and is hereby awarded this certificate of proficiency in Chinese.

Two things: I am not entirely comfortable with the use of my Chinese name, which has no legal standing whatsoever, on official documents; and is it just me or does the English text seem amazingly pompous?

Whatever, there you go, I am Grade B at Intermediate level. Pretty cool, huh?

There’s a slip of paper that comes with it that gives what is perhaps a little more pertinent: A breakdown of my score and the various grades and levels and explanations of all that. My score broke down as follows:

Listening: 83

Grammar: 75

Reading: 85

Comprehensive: 71

Total: 317.

No surprises. I knew Comprehensive would be my Achilles’ heel, and grammar gave me two problems: words I didn’t know (naturally) and the fine, technical differences between words that most people normally treat as synonyms. I’m surprised my reading is so high (heh, years of teaching Chinese kids legal cheats test-taking skills helped with that), but not surprised with listening- that was very, very clear to me, and I probably would’ve gotten better had I actually prepared it (yes, I went in thinking, for crying out loud, my wife is Chinese and our default language is Putonghua, surely my listening must be good enough.)

This all translates into a level 7 on HSK’s 11-level scale. The graph is entirely in Chinese, and I’m more interested in finishing this post and getting dinner than checking the official website, so I’m not entirely sure of the official English translations, but anyway: 初等证书 (elementary certificate?) covers levels 3 to 5, a C on such a certificate translating to level 3, a B to level 4 and an A to level 5. 中等证书 (intermediate certificate) covers levels 6 to 8, with a C being 6, B (me) 7 and A 8. After that it’s 高级, the dreaded advanced….

And so now… Do I go straight on to advanced in December? Can I bump myself up two levels in that time? I will have a long, hot and largely empty summer, about half of which I plan on spending out in the countryside….. Time to pop down to Wangfujing for some book shopping, I think.

12 Responses to “ummm…. yeah, uh…. where was I?”

  1. John Says:


    Although estimates of the time needed to go from one IELTS band to the next probably can’t be used as a point of comparison, I wonder whether two levels in six months is feasible without the equivalent of full-time study.

    I suppose at the top level you have to write a 八股文, so you’d better start practising paralysing your phrases. [Paralysing? And you teach English? –ed.]

  2. wangbo Says:

    It does at first glance seem unreasonable, but I’d want to take a decent look at the books first. Trouble right now is I don’t know how big a leap I’d be making if I went for advanced in December. Quite possibly next April would be the more realistic aim, but we’ll see.

  3. Jianjun Says:

    Congratulations Chris,

    The English used in the certificate sounds Shakespearean.

    “Let it be known that…” :)

  4. wangbo Says:

    Cheers, Jianjun.

    And yeah, that’s what I was thinking about the English half of the certificate.

  5. Matt Schiavenza - Throwing a Bone Says:

    […] Finally, congratulations to Chris Waugh for his great HSK result. I still haven’t gotten my results back yet, but I hope that I’ll be able to post them […]

  6. John Says:

    Congrats! I cringe when I think back on my HSK prep days, but for many reasons, it’s an important hurdle to overcome (even if we all know it doesn’t really indicate how good your Chinese is).

  7. nick Says:

    Congrats mate, you just got me to spill coffee on my landlords couch :-) That Billy T clip took me way back, hilarious. Congrats on the HSK too!

    Are you familiar with flight of the concords?

  8. wangbo Says:

    Sinosplice John: Thanks. And I agree, it’s a kind of milestone, or coming-of-age rite, or something, regardless of it’s actual worth in measuring one’s ability to do anything more than sit a test.

    Nick: Thanks, and thanks. I’ve heard of Flight of the Conchords, but never seen or heard them. Billy T, though, damn I was tempted to just sit their sifting Youtube for every Billy T clip they have. Damn I miss him.

  9. cc Says:


    Does that mean you can understand 70% of what Chinese speak and write down?

  10. Beijing Sounds Says:

    Heartiest congrats, wangbo. I know only enuf about the hsk to know that, if I were to take it, my failure would explore new depths of awfulness.

    Now I’m looking forward to your celebration for selfish reasons. I’ll be anxiously waiting for your email, with its attached recording of some inebriated Beijing reveries, to post for the next installment of Zhonglish. :^)

  11. wangbo Says:

    cc, maybe. I don’t really know.

    Beijing Sounds, thanks. But don’t hold your breath waiting for that recording.

  12. Amelia Says:

    so your hsk was administered on April 27th, so on your certificate, may i ask which date it was “certified”? you know.. the date that’s written after “the state commission of the Chinese proficiency test Beijing China”.
    please reply
    thank you so much :)