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HSK Website Takes on a New Look

For those HSK test-takers who had visited the website for HSK, the Chinese Proficiency Test, before January 15, they may have found it boring and useless.

However, they will now see that it has taken on a whole new face in an attempt to help its test takers.

The old website was finally replaced last Sunday with a brand-new one, thanks to the HSK Center of Beijing Language and Culture University, which is in charge of designing test papers and managing test taking around the world.

The center spent the whole of last year developing the new website, which is much faster and offers more language support services.

Sun Dejin, director of the HSK center, together with his colleagues, finally made the decision in 2004 to upgrade the old website, which had been used for nearly 6 years until last Sunday afternoon.

"The old one was too simple, with a lack of newly-updated information for viewers and it was short of functions, thus it could not satisfy the needs of viewers," said Sun.

Meanwhile, the increased participation in the HSK exam around the world, pushed the HSK Center to renew their website as soon as possible.

Take last year for instance, 117,660 foreigners sat HSK examinations, a 25-per-cent rise compared to 2004. Summing up the whole number of examinees in the past 16 years, HSK has been taken by over 1 million people, half of them are foreigners from over 120 countries and the other half are ethnic minorities in China.

Since large numbers of examinees are scattered in different parts of the globe, a common platform is necessary so that they can communicate, said Sun.

To provide examinees an effective service, Sun Dejin turned his eyes to the Internet. "HSK can not develop well without the support of the Internet," he told China Daily.

"The Internet can not only help us promote the HSK test and communicate with test-takers at home and abroad, but also help improve the efficiency of our work by saving personnel and resources," said Sun.

With the new website now in operation, viewers can get much more help and information from the website than before.

The new online services are the highlight of the new website, according to Zhang Kai, vice-director of the center.

They include online registration, and results enquiry and certificate enquiry services.

Online registration and the results enquiry services are both designed for HSK examinees, while the certificate enquiry service has been set up for employers to check the authenticity of job applicants' certificates.

Due to complicated technical and banking problems, the HSK center is unable to allow registration to be totally completed on the new website.

Though it is a breakthrough for HSK center to provide online registration for examinees, it offers only the first step of the whole registration process, which is the booking process.

Many Chinese learners had to queue up on the same day to sign up for a test in the Chinese mainland before, said Sun. "Some of them couldn't get the chance due to the quota limitation of each testing venue, even though they had already waited for a long time."

Thus the booking system is designed to save the pains of standing in queue for examinees, said Sun.

Examinees can check their scores online too by just clicking on the related information. Note that currently the system only offers test results from January 1, 2004 to September 30, 2005.

For employers who suspect that an applicant holds a false HSK certificate, they can just log on to the certificate enquiry webpage and key in the serial number and the name, and then it is clear whether it is original. Note that this information is currently only available for certificates issued between January 1, 2004 and September 30, 2005.

(China Daily January 19, 2006)

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