AL Chinese Stories

Know Your Level

Our stories are classified according to HSK levels, which is the official Mandarin Chinese test for non-native Chinese speakers. Even if you don’t study Chinese using the HSK materials, don’t worry, we’ll help you to know your Mandarin Chinese level.

Click on the links below to jump to your desired selection:

Instructions for those who do not study Chinese using the HSK teaching materials or do not know their HSK level

Instructions for those who know their HSK level

Instructions for those who do not study Chinese using the HSK teaching materials or do not know their HSK level

If you do not study Chinese using the HSK teaching materials, you can test your Chinese level based on the topics you can speak in Mandarin Chinese. Use the following description as a guide to help you figure out your Chinese level.

HSK 1: You have mastered 150 words. You can understand and use words in simple sentences. You can greet, express thanks and say goodbye. You can make a brief personal introduction (name, age, job, languages you speak). You can talk about time and dates in an elementary way.

HSK 2: You have mastered 300 words. You can talk about familiar and everyday topics in an elementary way, such as describing your daily schedule, colors, distance, means of transportation, etc. You can easily communicate in everyday situations, such as buying clothes, ordering dishes in a restaurant, looking for things, etc.

HSK 3: You have mastered 600 words. You can speak fluently about familiar and everyday topics. You can talk about tastes, describe people and places, make comparisons, discuss weekend plans, and talk about your past experience (travel, biography, etc.). You can also communicate in an elementary way in the most formal situations, as well as ask for opinions, ask for permission and favors, express obligations, give orders, make suggestions, offer help, etc.

HSK 4: You have mastered 1200 words. You can talk about somewhat professional topics, for example, the environment, nature, technology, education, entertainment, and others. You can discuss abstract topics, such as friendship, love, happiness, beauty, insistence, effort, the value of life and money, etc.

HSK 5: You have mastered 2500 words. You can read newspaper articles, watch television and talk about social issues, for example, sports competitions, cultural conflicts, art, the use of the internet and new technology, etc. You can also understand stories about Chinese idioms, traditions, customs, and culture.

HSK 6: You have mastered 5,000 words. You can read literary texts, understand metaphors and satirical commentary, and comprehend contemporary poems. You can easily talk about abstract, professional, and cultural topics, for example, Chinese history, Chinese festivals, computers, science, societal trends, etc.

After reading the descriptions, do you know your Chinese level? You may be somewhere between two levels, but this is not a problem, because our stories are graded scientifically so that everyone can find suitable stories adapted to their level.

Now assuming your Chinese proficiency level, let’s see how you can choose appropriate stories.

Instructions for those who know their HSK level

The stories in our library are classified in 5 levels.

  1. The Starter Level: for those who have already mastered the words and expressions of HSK 1 or HSK 2.
  2. The Basic Level: for those who have already mastered the words and expressions of HSK 2 or HSK 3.
  3. The Intermediate Level: for those who have already mastered the words and expressions of HSK 3 or HSK 4.
  4. The Advanced Level: for those who have already mastered the words and expressions of HSK 4 or HSK 5
  5. The Mystery Level: for those who have already mastered the words and expressions of HSK 5 or HSK 6.

If you are at HSK 1 level, you can read stories assigned with the label “Starter Level” (#1), but they might still be a bit challenging for you as they contain between 80% and 90% of the words you know. According to research, to understand a text without the need to stop to consult the dictionary, you need to know 95% or more of the vocabulary. Therefore, we highly recommend that you become a member of the Read, Practice and Improve Club, where you can find eBooks with every story presented in three versions: Version 1 – Chinese characters only, Version 2 – Chinese characters with Pinyin on top of the characters, and Version 3 – Chinese characters on the left and English translation on the right.

If you are at HSK 2 level, you can read stories assigned with the label “Starter Level” (#1) and “Basic Level” (#2). The stories labeled with “Starter Level” will be easy for your level as they contain between 90% and 98% of the words you know. The stories labeled with “Basic Level” can be challenging for you as they contain between 80% to 90% of the vocabulary you know. According to research, to understand a text without the need to stop to consult the dictionary, you need to know 95% or more of the vocabulary. To improve your language skills, it’s recommended to read materials that are one step above your level.

If you are at HSK 3 level, you can choose the Basic Level (#2) and Intermediate Level (#3) stories. When you read Basic Level stories, you will enjoy reading since you have mastered between 90% and 98% of the words in the stories. If you want to expand your vocabulary and improve your Chinese faster, the Intermediate Level stories, which contain between 80% to 90% of the vocabulary you know, will be more appropriate. According to research, students improve their skills by receiving an “input” that is one step above their level.

If you are at HSK 4 level, you can select the Intermediate Level (#3) and Advanced Level (#4) stories. The latter can be a challenge for you as they only have 80-90% of the words you know. But they will help you improve your Chinese skills, especially if you become a Read, Practice and Improve Club member, where you can access bilingual eBooks, vocabulary lists, and reading comprehension exercises. If you just want to enjoy reading, the Intermediate Level stories will be better for you as you have mastered between 90% and 98% of the words that appear in the stories at this level.

If you are at HSK 5 level, you have two options: the Advanced Level stories (#4) and the Mastery Level stories (#5). If your goal is to enjoy reading, choose the former as they contain between 90% and 98% of the vocabulary you know. If your goal is to improve your Chinese skills, choose the latter as they contain 80-90% of the words that you have already mastered. According to research, students improve their skills by receiving an “input” that is one step above their level.

If you are at HSK 6 level, congratulations! You can enjoy all the stories in our digital library. The stories labeled with Mastery Level (#5) will help you improve your Chinese, and reading is fun. The percentage of new vocabulary is not as important to you. Discover the stories that you like. Do not forget that you can also select stories according to their themes or categories. And if you are a member of the Read, Practice and Improve Club, you will have access to the reading comprehension exercises and the MP3 audios of the stories read at a natural speed so that you can improve your listening comprehension at the same time.

In any case, we recommend readers of all levels to try reading stories of various levels until you find the materials suitable for you, both for reading enjoyment and for the purpose of improving your Chinese skills.

NOTE: In 2020, the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China published a new version of the Standards for International Chinese Education. According to the new HSK system, the levels go from 6 to 9. But the textbooks are still being drafted and the HSK exams are also not up to date as of the time we publish this article. As soon as the new system is completely updated, we will re-grade the stories.