Chinese Language Proficiency Test Options


I’ve read some about different Chinese Mandarin Proficiency tests like TOCFL, HSL, ESK, IELTS, etc. I want to take proficiency tests for my own purposes and not for requirements like job placement, etc.

What testing options are available in Taiwan (or online from Taiwan)?
Which ones do you recommend or are recommended by others?
Why are certain tests recommended over others?
Are any tests computer based so that everything is done on the computer and does not have a handwriting requirement?


[quote=“tango42, post:1, topic:157312, full:true”]
TOCFL, HSL, ESK, IELTS, etc.[/quote]

TOCFL is the MOE’s test that you can take several times per year at various locations in Taiwan and now and then overseas.

I know nothing of HSL or ESK, but HS K is the mainland equivalent of TOCFL that you can take several times per year at various locations there and now and then overseas.

IELTS is an English test.

Afaik there is no paper TOCFL now, so you have to put up with the crappy interface that doesn’t let you go back and change your answers in the listening part. You need to be fast with the mouse!

Afaik the paper HSK still exists, at least in some locations.

In theory they’re both equivalent to the CEFR levels (1=A1, 6=C2), but there has been some controversy about this. The HSK website supposedly removed the claim at some point, but last time I checked it was still (or once again) making the claim.

Apparently the HSK was available in Taiwan, at least once in history, but isn’t now.

The conventional HSK covers listening, reading, and writing. Speaking is a separate test, the HSKK. (They also have separate tests for children, businesspeople, and Koreans.)

The conventional TOCFL covers listening and reading. Speaking and writing are both in separate tests and offered less often.

The TOCFL has something that would suit you: sign up for the “pilot” test and pay only $100 NT (plus the $15 processing fee at 7-11). Sometimes they offer a gift if you score high enough and/or invite you to take it again for free. You get your score instantly for listening/reading. You need to wait a few weeks or months to find out your score for speaking or writing. If you want a certificate, you need to sign up for the “formal” test and pay significantly more (similar to the price of the HSK).


In Taiwan, the proficiency test is TOCFL. I’m not sure what your current level of Chinese is but there are 3 levels: Beginners (A), Intermediate (B) and Advanced ©. To make things a bit complicated, each level is split into two so A is Level 1 & 2, B is Level 3 & 4 etc. The higher the number, the harder the material, however you would only really notice it (especially in reading and listening) by the text or dialogue being longer.

The listening and reading is in one (computer) test, speaking and writing are both separate.
TOCFL is all in traditional characters.

In mainland China, Hong Kong and various places internationally, it is HSK. There are 6 levels (6 being the highest). HSK combines reading, writing and listening all in one paper. Speaking is a separate exam. I did HSK in Hong Kong and it was a paper exam, however in the mainland, it was computer based.

The difference in my opinion is that grading wise, HSK gives you an overall grade i.e if you are really good in reading and writing but was a bit poor in listening, the shortfall could even it self out. (For higher levels, the pass rate is 180 out of 300) However, in TOCFL, you need to pass each level separately to determine your overall grade (e.g You may of passed Level 4 reading but your listening was Level 3, so subsequently your overall grade is Level 3.)

HSK is also in simple characters. The content is also a bit different.

I found HSK more grounded in practical situations whereas TOCFL can throw in some obscure sayings which you may or may not of learned in the classroom.I personally found TOCFL harder, as the grading system is quite stressful.

If I can be a bit controversial, I am not sure if TOCFL is recognised internationally (the whole is Taiwan a country issue), therefore I purposely took HSK as if I return home (UK), I know employers dealing with China / Chinese language will have heard of it.

Hope this helps.


The US government recognizes TOCFL.

I think there’s a traditional character version of the HSK available in some locations but not vice-versa.


Take the HSK. For some reason seems they have stopped the traditional version. People have heard of the HSK and it can be used for getting a working visa in China. Im not sure what you can do with the TOCFL



TOCFL steering committee webpage


I’ve been noticing places offering TOCFL prep and practice tests. Wenhua University for example on Jianguo.


When is that from? Last time I checked there was no TOCFL 7 or HSK 7.


It’s from the TOCFL steering committee webpage


That’s bizarre. The other pages say there are six levels, which I believe is currently true.

The old HSK had 10 levels iirc, but they changed it about a decade ago.

Best place to go to sit the HSK in 2018?

I have a HSK 7, but that was before they changed from 12 level to 6 level.


Anyone know what “Band B” and “Band A” means on this TOCFL prep course advertisement (ABOVE AT POST NUMBER 7)? Are they referring to a specific book or standard or what?


The TOCFL is divided into three difficulty levels, Band A, Band B and Band C, so when you sign up and take the test you will choose between these (C being the hardest).


Band A: levels 1 and 2
Band B: levels 3 and 4
Band C: levels 5 and 6

In theory they correspond with CEFR levels A1 through C2.


How does Taiwan based TOCFL computer based speaking test work? Do you reply to the computer which records your response and then someone grades it later?


That’s how the HSKK computer based speaking test works, I imagine TOCFL works the same way.




2018 TOCFL test dates. The next open registration dates are March 26 to April 11 for tests on May 5 and May 6.