Hello fellow Chinese learners. I’m just a lurker on these forums – taking advice, but never giving advice – so this is my chance to give back to the community. I took the HSK level 6 exam in April, having never taken an official HSK exam before and passed it with a score of 222 / 260. I crammed for a total of 3 months using the fantastic advice and practice tests from u/beckylibei
My background: American Born Chinese “ABC”. Grew up speaking Chinese, but not reading and definitely not writing. I did not study Chinese in college.
The challenge: Pass HSK level 6 before I turn 30, before my memory starts deteriorating.
The problem: When I see long text in Chinese, my brain freezes and gets anxiety. I get nervous reading the newspaper even though I can probably slowly decipher most of the words. This results in very slow reading speed. I had to get my reading speed up in order to pass the HSK 6.
The solution: In order to get over my anxiety, I had to “trick” my brain into doing something I enjoy such as playing video games and watching anime.
* ANKI word lists – Finished HSK level 6 word list. Got started and finished a quarter of HSK 7-9 words. I also put in a custom study list for all my new words.
* Soul Land Anime **斗罗大陆** – Find it on Youtube. Great Donghua show. I got addicted and watched 200 episodes in a week. Turn off English subs and keep Chinese on!
* Soul Land Audiobook – After watching the anime, I was craving for more content and I found out that the Author had written 5 additional books as sequels. I started listening to Novel 5. **斗罗大陆5重生唐三**
* Soul Land Webnovel – This is where the magic happens. I found a website with Soul Land 5 webnovel in Chinese. I read chapters while listening to the chapter with the Audiobook. And then I read the chapter again without the audio. At first I was so slow. It took my almost an hour to read a chapter. But I persevered because I was hooked to the plot. By the time I was 100 chapters in, my reading time was cut down to 30 minutes a chapter. By the time I was 300 chapters in, I was doing 20 minutes a chapter. Now 800 chapters in, I can finish a chapter in 10 minutes!
* Soul Land Mobile Game – I downloaded this MMO which is actually pretty popular in China and started playing. There’s no English translation and text disappears fast so I had to get good at reading things fast or else my character would get killed.
Conclusion: After reading 800 chapters of the Soul Land webnovel, I took HSK level 6 and passed with a decently high score. The webnovel technique honed my reading speed as well as listening comprehension because the narrators talks so damn fast. This journey was by far the most “enjoyable” learning experience I’ve had – and I’m still eagerly waiting for new chapters like a superfan.