While it is no secret that China has the largest population in the world, this has not deterred international students from pursuing their studies in this rich and diverse country. China, officially the People’s Republic of China is also known for being the largest economy in the world, having some of the best universities, a stimulating educational environment, and a fascinating multicultural city atmosphere.

As Mandarin Chinese is the primary language in China, you need to demonstrate competence in the language to be successful in your studies and enjoy your interactions. But before you plan to hop on the next plane, one item stands in your way: language tests.

What are the language tests needed in China for international students? Check out the following language tests you need to consider before you embark on your study experience in China.

Language Proficiency Tests Needed in China

Meeting the language requirements in China is essential to your admission eligibility. Taking the Chinese Mandarin and English language tests will help you understand classes, complete assignments, and sit exams easily. Once you understand these language requirements, you will be one step closer to achieving your educational dreams.

Chinese Language Tests for International Students

As an international student looking to study in China, you need to take and pass different Chinese language tests before admission to your chosen university. The most widely accepted tests are the HSK and the BCT. There is also the Youth Chinese Test or YCT or designed specifically for young learners of Chinese and tests their ability in reading and writing.

1. Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK)

The Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, or the Chinese Proficiency Test, is a requirement for all international students applying for universities in China. The HSK tests your elementary Chinese ability, such as reading and writing comprehension, listening comprehension, and grammar.

The Basic HSK is suited for the undergraduate program, while the Advanced HSK is for those seeking postgraduate studies. The tests consist of six different levels ranging from beginner to advanced. You need to pass HSK level 4 or 5 (depending on where you plan to study) to be allowed into most colleges or universities. A passing grade on HSK 1 and 2 is 120 points out of 200, while HSK levels 3, 4, 5, or 6 are 180 points out of 300.

The majority of the universities in China accept this test. For example, Fudan University requires a minimum score of 210 in HSK 5 or 180 in HSK 6 for undergraduate admission. Other institutions include Peking University, which requires a minimum score of 180 points in HSK 6, Donghua University, and the University of Science and Technology of China.

2. The Business Chinese Test (BCT)

The Business Chinese Test (BCT) was developed by Hanban and is designed specifically for international students who want to study business-related courses in China.

The test assesses three areas: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, and writing, with a total score of 300 points. However, it has no official passing grade. Instead, once you take the test, a report will be sent to you with your score details and a recognition of what level they are. Once you pass, you can use your BCT certificate for a lifetime!

Some universities offering the Business Chinese Test include the School of International Education Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, Peking University, Tsinghua University, and the University of International Business and Economics.

English Language Tests for International Students

If you planning to study abroad, you are probably wondering if there any English language tests needed in China for international students. The answer is: most likely yes. Depending on the university and program, there are various tests you may need to take, the main ones being TOEFL, IELTS, and the Duolingo English Test.

1. IELTS – International English Language Testing System

Many universities in China accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for non-native English speakers. It evaluates your English skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

The proficiency levels range from non-user to expert, with the maximum score being 9. Generally, a minimum score of IELTS 5.5 is required at the undergraduate and master levels, while six is at the Ph.D. level.

Some of the universities in China that accept IELTS include Peking University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), Fudan University, which allows admission with a minimum score of 6.5, and Nanjing University, a minimum score of 6.5.

2. TOEFL – Test Of English as a Foreign Language

The Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is another primary English language test accepted by universities in China. The exam has four sections but focuses more on American English than British English.

The scores range from 0-120, with the minimum score varying for different universities.

Some universities accepting IELTS include Tsinghua University, Fudan University, which requires a minimum score of 90, Peking University, and Nanjing University requiring a minimum score of 95 points for master’s degree programs taught in English.

3. DET – Duolingo English Test

The Duolingo English Test is an alternative to TOEFL or IELTS and is purely online, though not accepted as widely as the two. It is affordable and convenient as you can take it from the comfort of your home. It will evaluate your English language skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

The scores range from 10 to 160, with the minimum acceptable score for international students varying with different institutions. The Duolingo exam certificate lasts two years from the original date. An example of a university in China that accepts the Duolingo English Test is Fudan University which allows a minimum score of 110.


If you looking to study abroad, there are Chinese and English language tests needed in China for admission to different universities. The most widely accepted Chinese language tests are the HSK and the BCT, offered at various levels and can be used to prove your Chinese language skills to gain entry into the university of your choice. Through these exams, you will gain admission to some of the best schools in China and prepare yourself academically and linguistically for the invigorating challenge that awaits you during your studies in China.


We hope this article on language tests needed in China for international students is informative and helpful. Check out our  Asia Scholarships Page to find out more about universities and scholarships in Asia!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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