I recently met up with an old friend who said she had started studying for the HSK. The conversation went something like this:
> Me: Wow, the HSK, huh?
> Her: Yeah, I know… I felt it was finally time.
> Me: So you’re planning on leaving China soon?
> Her: Uhhh… I didn’t say that…
> Me: Yeah, I know, but if you’re not planning on doing some kind of university program here, the main reason to take the HSK is to get a score for your resume.
> Her: Exactly. I’ve gotten my Chinese to a decent level here, but I don’t have any kind of degree in Chinese, so I figured it was time.
> Me: So are you leaving?
> Her: Not sure yet, but possibly.
Few see the HSK as a useful test. It’s a necessary evil for certain purposes. HSK test prep is definitely not very helpful for improving one’s communication skills. It sure is ironic that for many, it has become the test you take when you decide to leave China.