How To Pass HSK 3 // Your Complete Guide [Update 2023]

How To Pass The HSK 3 With Style // Top Tips & Tricks (for 2023)

How to Pass the HSK 2 | How to Pass the HSK 4

The HSK 3 is one of the first few major milestones in a Chinese learner’s journey. As the first HSK test without pinyin, this is the first level where students achieve working proficiency in the language. But how do you pass HSK 3 with flying colours?

That’s what we’ll be teaching you today!

Although the HSK 3 exam will not get you into any university programs, the HSK 3 is very helpful for demonstrating a decent grasp of the language and basic conversational abilities. 

According to Hanban, the HSK 3 is designed for students who have successfully completed at least three semesters of Chinese classes with 2-3 hours of instruction per week. 

If this sounds like you, then the HSK 3 might be a great way for you to certify your Chinese language abilities. 

This guide will help you prepare for the HSK 3 by breaking down each section of the exam and giving you insightful tips on how to pass it with flying colours. 

Note that the HSK 3 does not include a speaking section. If you are interested in passing the HSKK 3—the Chinese speaking proficiency exam from Hanban—then this guide is not for you.

How to Pass HSK 3 | Understand the Structure of HSK 3

How to Pass HSK 3 | Study the HSK 3 Content

How to Pass HSK 3 | Test Your Vocabulary

How to Pass HSK 3 | Improve Your Listening Skills

How to Pass HSK 3 | Improve Your Reading Comprehension Skills

How to Pass HSK 3 | FAQ’s

Pass HSK 6 in 12 months? It’s possible!

How to Pass HSK 3 | Understand the Structure of HSK 3

The HSK 3 comes in two formats: paper-based and internet-based. 

The contents, structure, and scoring of both versions are identical, except that 5 additional minutes are given to paper-based test-takers to account for the time needed to transfer the answers to the answer sheet.

There is one critical difference, however, between the two test formats that makes the internet-based section much preferred by most: you are not required to hand write any characters in the internet-based version

As the first test to introduce a writing section to the HSK, those who took either of the two lower levels may not be aware of this critical difference.

The HSK 3 test does include a writing section, so the internet-based test has the added benefit of being able to type by using pinyin instead of having to memorise the strokes of each of the 600 words in this level. 

This makes the internet-based format much easier to pass as students will spend less time handwriting during the exam.

Besides that, the format of the test is identical for both versions. 

The HSK 3 exam consists of three sections

  • Listening comprehension
  • Reading comprehension
  • Writing 

Listening Section in HSK 3

The listening section of the HSK 3 is 35 minutes long and contains 40 questions. It is broken down into four parts.

Part I contains 10 match-the-picture questions. Here, the student will listen to 10 audio dialogues made up of two sentences each. The student will then have to match the dialogue with the appropriate question to score correctly.

Part II consists of 10 true-or-false questions. For each question, the student will listen to a 15-25 second monologue followed by a statement, which the student must identify as either true or false.

Part III consists of 10 multiple-choice questions. The test-taker will listen to a two-sentence dialogue for each question, followed by a question raised by a third person. Each question will come with three possible answers, from which the student must select the correct one. 

Part IV also consists of 10 multiple-choice questions. The difference from Part III is that the dialogues in Part IV will be significantly longer, each including 4-5 sentences. As in Part III, each question will have three answer options.

Reading Section in HSK 3

The reading section of the HSK 3 is 30 minutes long and consists of 30 questions. There are three different parts in this section, each consisting of 10 questions. 

In Part I, the test-taker will be presented with 10 two-sentence dialogues with the sentences in disorder. To score correctly, the test-taker will have to pair up the sentences in the correct order.  

Part II consists of 10 fill-in-the-blank questions. Each question will include one or two sentences and only one blank. A list of possible answer choices will be given.

Part III includes 10 short passages, from which the student will have to answer one question for each passage. Three answer options will be provided for each question.

Writing Section in HSK 3

The writing section of the HSK 3 is only 15 minutes long and contains only two parts.

For Part I, the test-taker will be presented with 5 sentences with the words in mixed-up order. To score correctly, the student will have to rearrange the words in the correct order

Part II includes more fill-in-the-blank questions. In contrast to Part II of the reading comprehension section, this part will not include possible answer choices and will instead include the pinyin for the missing word. The student will then have to write (or type) the character that corresponds to the pinyin.

How to Pass HSK 3 | Study the HSK 3 Content

As mentioned earlier, Hanban estimates that the HSK 3 is the ideal level for a student who has completed three semesters of 2-3 hours of Chinese classes per week. 

However, the HSK 3 measures proficiency in a language, not time spent in a class.

It is definitely possible to pass the HSK 3 without having completed three semesters of Chinese classes.

Here are some of the options that we recommend.

Take In Person Classes

If your high school or university doesn’t offer Chinese classes, there are still many non-traditional ways for you to learn Chinese with in-person classes. 

How about doing summer school in China? Or maybe even spend a summer studying Chinese on the Great Wall?

At LTL, we offer many options for students looking for high-quality in-person Chinese classes. We have 1-on-1, group, and even semester options available in the following locations: 

  • Beijing
  • Shanghai
  • Taipei
  • Singapore
  • Chengdu
  • Xi’an
  • Beihai
Chinese vs Mandarin 🤔 What's the Truth? Thumbnail

Chinese vs Mandarin 🤔 What’s the Truth?

Chinese vs Mandarin || Mandarin is a dialect of Chinese. Chinese is a language, whilst Mandarin is one of the dialects of Chinese.

Take Online Classes

If traveling is not an option for you, then you can take online classes to achieve an HSK 3 level. 

At LTL Mandarin, we offer many convenient options for online Chinese classes:

  • Flexi Classes is our revolutionary online Chinese class system that allows students from around the world to sign up for Chinese group classes 24/7. We currently offer 50 unique one-hour lessons for HSK 3 plus 50 unique one-hour lessons for a more advanced HSK 3+ level. All of our Flexi Classes are taught by certified Chinese teachers.
  • Fixed Group Classes are an option for those who like a more regular schedule. At LTL Mandarin, you can choose from our standard 4-hours-a-week HSK 3 group classes and our intensive 10-hours-a-week HSK 3 group classes. We also offer HSK 3+ classes for more advanced students.
  • HSK Online Courses are perfect for those who want to learn the contents of the HSK 3 as soon as possible or have an HSK 3 exam coming up. All of our one-on-one classes are taught by certified tutors who can work with you to create the best study plan for your needs.

How to Pass HSK 3 | Test Your Vocabulary

The HSK 3 exam includes 600 words, that is twice as many as the HSK 2 exam! 

As you’re working your way through the HSK 3 curriculum, it is important to keep track of your progress by constantly quizzing yourself. 

You can check out our HSK 3 vocabulary quiz, which will help you have a clear idea of what your progress is. 

DID YOU KNOW – The HSK is changing in 2022 and the HSK 3 is going to become significantly harder! Check out our post about the New HSK here.

How to Pass HSK 3 | Improve Your Listening Skills

As the longest section in the HSK 3 exam, listening skills are arguably the most important for passing the test. 

Improving your listening skills is no small feat as it is very different from memorising a list of words or learning a grammar structure. Working on your Chinese listening skills takes practice, patience, and dedication.

One of the best ways to improve listening skills is by consuming a lot of comprehensible input. That means listening to podcasts or watching Chinese C-dramas that you can understand. 

At HSK 3 level, your comprehension level might not be the highest, so don’t worry if you have to use subtitles or only listen to elementary audios. The most important thing is to get your ear used to listening to Chinese and identifying the different sounds. 

You can check out our full post on improving Chinese listening comprehension.

How to Pass HSK 3 | Improve Your Reading Comprehension Skills

Reading is a fundamental skill for passing the HSK 3. As the first HSK level without pinyin, test-takers will have to be fairly comfortable with reading characters in order to pass the exam. 

Luckily, the internet-based version of the test means that you do not need to memorise how to write characters from scratch—you just need to learn to identify the characters. This makes your task much more manageable. 

Here are some of our best recommendations for improving reading comprehension skills.

Spend A Lot Of Time With Graded Readers

Graded readers are books written specifically for foreign language learners.

Reading a graded reader can do wonders not just for your reading comprehension, but also for your listening comprehension and writing ability—all skills you need to pass the HSK 3 exam. 

There are plenty of excellent Chinese graded readers that can level up your reading comprehension and help you pass the HSK 3 test.

At HSK 3 level, you should be able to read plenty of interesting graded reader books or short stories.

Apps like The Chairman’s Bao and DuChinese offer countless short stories and news articles written using only words from the HSK 3 vocabulary. 

Use SRS Apps To Memorize Vocab

Of course, in order to read books, you need to be familiar with the vocabulary.

Spaced Repetition Software (SRS) apps like Hack Chinese or Pleco can help you learn and remember the 600 words in the HSK 3 exam. 

Using an SRS app along with graded readers is a great way to contextualise the words that you are learning. Because the format of the HSK 3 exam is not like that of a flashcard, being able to identify the HSK 3 vocabulary in different contexts will help you do well on the actual test.

Luckily, there are many tools available for HSK 3 students looking to improve their Chinese reading skills. 

You can check out our full guide on memorizing Chinese characters for more ideas on how to nail down that HSK 3 vocabulary.

There you have it, a complete guide on how to pass the HSK 3! If you have any more questions, please let us know in the comments below and we will get right back to you.

If you want to check out our other Pass HSK guides, you can do below.

How To Pass HSK 1 // Your Complete Guide [Update 2023] Thumbnail

How To Pass HSK 1 // Your Complete Guide [Update 2023]

The HSK 1 test is the first of six levels of the written HSK exam. But how to pass the HSK 1 exam? Here are some top tips and resources to help you.

How To Pass HSK 2 // Your Complete Guide [Update 2023] Thumbnail

How To Pass HSK 2 // Your Complete Guide [Update 2023]

The HSK 2 test is the 2nd of six levels of the written HSK exam. But how to pass the HSK 2 exam? Here are some top tips and resources to help you.

How to Pass HSK 3 | FAQ’s

What is the pass mark for HSK 3?

You need to achieve 180/300, or 60%, to pass the HSK 3 exam.

What is the top score you can get on the HSK 3 exam?

The top mark for HSK 2 is 300/300.

How many words in the HSK 3?

There are currently 600 but as of March 2022 this is changing to 2,245 words, making it significantly more difficult to pass.

The growth is +1,645 extra words in total.

Why is the HSK 3 changing and becoming harder?

Hanban feel the HSK currently doesn’t give a fair reflection when compared to the European Framework system (A1-C2).

They are trying to align each HSK level with the aforementioned system and currently feel the HSK is a little easier compared.

The reason to extend this is to truly allow HSK 1 to equal A1, and HSK 4 to equal B2, for example.

Can I take the HSK 3 exam with LTL?

Absolutely yes!

Here at LTL we are an accredited HSK test centre, but that doesn’t mean you take the test at our centre, but we can get you booked into one when you need.

Can I book a HSK test through LTL?

You can yes.

As we are an accredited HSK test centre, we can get you booked in for your HSK exam.

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BONUS | Want to study the local Taiwanese dialect known as Hokkien? We provide Hokkien classes in person and online.

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  • LTL Avatar Alexander Krasnov
    Alexander Krasnov , Student Advisor

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