General rule: it takes approximately 2-3 hours of studying Chinese to earn one point on the HSK 6 test. To make a test preparation schedule, subtract your score on your HSK 6 mock test from your score goal. Then calculate the approximate number of study hours you’ll need to put in to reach your goal.
HSK 6 Test Preparation: The Complete, Ultimate Guide for 2021

I've seen the above claim from place to place, but have never seen any evidence to back it up. I'm wondering where it comes from, and if it has some kind of justification (evidence, a logical argument, teacher experience).

Judging from the context, the claim seems restricted to the time between deciding to take the HSK6 exam, and actually taking it.

Question: Is there justification for the claim that e.g. "3 hours study" ≃ "1 point" on the HSK6 exam?

1 Answer 1


(Answering my own question...)

Having taken the HSK6 exam myself, in my opinion, this claim is just nonsense.

To begin with, the HSK6 only has 300 marks, so that's 300 * 3 = 900 hours for full marks (a score which even native speakers can't get). In 2021 alone, I put in 2600 hours of study (which I measured using the Toggl app). FSI's estimates are that 2200 class hours are required to reach “Professional Working Proficiency”. So 900 hours is not even in the right ballpark.

The webpage states:

For example, your current score on a mock test is: Listening 61, Reading 56, Writing 66, with a total of 183 points. You know the school you are applying to has a cutoff of 210 points, so there is a 27 points gap. You can aim to improve each category by 9 points (Listening 70, Reading 65, Writing 75), then you have to study for 54-81 hours.

It looks like they're talking about a student who can almost pass the HSK6 on mock exams (so, presumably, has already mastered the 2500 vocabulary items), and just want some extra marks on the actual exam. The problem here is that "mock exams" cover a range of difficulty (see my HSK6 postmortem): the past exams are far easier than the current HSK6 exam, whereas the online mock exam (via ChineseTest.cn) is realistic.

In any case, I was studying for more than 8 hours per day in preparation for the HSK6, so I feel quite certain that 80 hours of study (8 hours per day for 10 days) is not going to get you an additional 27 marks on the HSK6. (Maybe if you did 8 hours a day for 6 months...)

To give you an idea of something more realistic, see ChinesePod boosted my HSK 6 score, by Elijah Wilcott, December 2019:

So Elijah Wilcott improved by 16 marks, which took over 19 months. (Or if we take the maximum mark in each section, then he improved by 27 marks.) According to the website, "you have to study for 54-81 hours". Again, we see the website's claim is just not realistic.


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