As of today, I have 2 weeks until I take the HSK 5, a chinese language test. I’ve been technically preparing for months, but only seriously for the past 6 weeks. Every day I try to do some exercises, take a part of a practice test, memorize some new words.
But with the light at the end of the tunnel I’m getting more and more discouraged. While I’m having no problem with the reading and essay writing sections I’m still sucking at the writing part in which I put characters in the proper order. I’ve been working on it for 6 weeks, almost daily, and I’m seeing no improvement.
My teacher is encouraging me as much as he can, “You’ve only got one character wrong,” he says all the time. “You’re so close.” But close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and definitely not in a standardized test. So that is discouraging to say the least.
Add to that I finally started practicing the listening portion and I’m not as good as I expected. I practiced earlier with the level 4 test and had no problem. But level 5 is faster with new vocab and I’m having trouble. I can eek out a win every now and then, but other times I bomb it. So I have no consistency and therefore no confidence if I can pass that part.
Also, this test is taking up so much of my time. I’m living in Hangzhou and everyday I want to see friends or go to new places, but I stop myself so I can study. Also, I got back to Lin’an during the weekends to have a quiet time to get more studying done (less distraction) missing out on fun weekend activities.
So recently I thought seriously about bagging it. I mean, there is no purpose to taking this test. It was just for me to have a goal to study towards and I did that. I’ve learned a lot of grammar, a lot new words and I finally get things that I didn’t get before. That was the real purpose.
So why should I drop nearly a hundred bucks just to fail the test? I have no guarantee of actually passing the test and I’d hate to fail (which I’d probably do). Why put myself through the work of this test. If I forget it I can immediately relax and spend more time focusing on other things such as writing and my friends. I could instantly relax and lose the guilt of not studying.
Yesterday I took an online version of the test. I’ll be taking the test on a computer and this online sample test was meant to accustom test takers to the computer process. It’s a practice test, but it is run exactly like the real test. In fact, the practice test is one of the older actual HSK tests. I was expecting to fail just because there were words I didn’t know, and the speaking part seemed quite fast.
But I passed.
I passed with the lowest score possible, but it was a pass. All I need is a 60. (And this practice test doesn’t take into account the essay writing portion. So I’m guessing my actual final score would be a 65-68.)
And even though it’s a pathetic score, it gave me a tiny sliver of hope. And afterwards I went online and officially signed up for the test on August 11th. That means two more weeks of studying, two more weeks of turning down friends invites and two more weeks of sequestering myself in my room during the weekend.