7 Facts You Must Know about the BCT

The Business Chinese Test (BCT) is a standardized international test that determines the proficiency of Chinese of non-Chinese foreign speakers. Like other language tests, it consists of speaking and writing tests which is the key determiner of the outcome of the test. If you are interested in giving the BCT test, there are 7 things you must know about the Business Chinese Test.

1. It’s a Chinese fluency test focused on business Chinese vocabulary and terms.

There are many other tests that focus only on proficiency in the Chinese language such as the TOCFL test. But the BCT is quite different than those other tests. The BCT does not only focuses on Chinese proficiency but it focuses specifically on  Chinese vocabulary and terms of the business aspect which makes it different than any other Chinese language test. So this is a test for non-native Chinese speakers who are focused on carrying on any activities related to business in China. The certificate provided by this test might be required for non-native Chinese speakers in the recruitment process of different business organizations.

2. The BCT is an official Confucius Institute test just like the HSK and YCT

You might have heard about the HSK and YCT tests. HSK stands for Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi and YCT stands for Youth Chinese Test. These both are international standardized language proficiency tests as well as official Confucius tests. They are very similar and the only difference is their targeted audience. HSK is a comparatively older test and the targeted audience are adults and high school students. The YCT is the latest test that is for young kids. You need to get in touch with an official Confucius institute if you want to give either HSK or YCT test.

Business Chinese Test (BCT) is also very similar in this regard. It teaches almost the same things that are taught in HSK or YCT courses so they are very similar in nature and it is an official Confucious Institute test just like HSK or YCT. So you also need to get in touch with an official Confucious Institute if you intend to give a BCT test. However, BCT is not as well known as HSK. The only noticeable difference in this regard is the targeted audience where there no age limitation to attend a BCT test. People of any age are eligible to give the BCT exam. Basically, BCT is for people who intend to work, seek employment, or get involved with business organizations or any business-related activities.

3. It’s not as well known as the HSK

Yes, it is true that BCT is not as well known as HSK for many different reasons. One of the main reasons is that HSK was developed way before BCT. HSK was first invented in 1984. It officially became a standardized national language proficiency test in 1992 and it was developed more later on. HSK was developed keeping two main audiences in mind which are students and professionals. And since it was first developed, HSK certification was accepted by employers which made it a requirement for non-native Chinese speakers and most Chinese people know about the HSK.

On the other hand, BCT was developed in 2005 by the Confucious Institute Headquarters which is also known as Hanban. So compared to BCT, it is the latest test which a lot of people are now even aware of. Even though it is a specialized test of Chinese language proficiency in the business sector, not many people in this particular sector aren’t even aware of it even though it is clearly a better and fitting test. And ironically, most Chinese people know about the HSK but not the BCT. As people are more used to HSK, it became normalized and recognized by most people opposed to BCT.

It was discussed earlier that both BCT and HSK tests are very similar. So if you have prepared for the HSK test and even passed it, you are likely to pass the BCT test too with some required additional preparation. And if you are looking for jobs, it’s best to do both BCT and HSK.

4. It’s not as difficult as the HSK

It was mentioned earlier that the BCT and HSK test is very similar in nature, but the fun thing is that BCT is not is as difficult as HSK. It is comparatively easier. There are some apparent reasons behind that. The audience of the HSK test are students and professionals and it is more skill-based. Usually, non-native students apply to China educational institutes for higher education and academic purpose, advanced grammar and vast vocabulary knowledge is required. But these are very unnecessary for any business-related purposes. Moreover, HSK has six levels/tiers of difficulties. The higher the level, the higher the difficulty. The last tier which is the sixth tier is for advanced learners and you need to learn 5000 words of vocabulary.

On the other hand, the BCT course will teach you only the necessary things that you will need for everyday communication for business purposes. And the BCT test only has two skill tiers namely BCT(A) and BCT(B). BCT A is a beginner-level course and BCT B is an intermediate/advanced course. The highest skill tier or level is BCT(B) and you will need to learn 2500 words of vocabulary which is approximately half compared to HSK where you need to learn 5000 words for the HSK level 6. So by no way BCT is difficult as HSK, it is actually easier if compared.

5. It includes a spoken test, as well as listening, writing, and reading

BST test mainly consists of speaking and writing. So there is a spoken test to evaluate your spoken test which is very important in this regard because if you are a professional or you are involved with business-related activities, you need to communicate with people every moment. Being social is vital for carrying out business-related activities. And the most accepted way to instantly communicate with people in the workplace is through speaking. You might even need to make or take phone calls very often. So you need to speak with people no matter what and you need good speaking skills for it. And BCT test includes a spoken test, as well as listening, writing, and reading. The spoken test that BCT offers is a totally separate test that you need to pay separate fees for.

We have drawn many differences between BCT and HSK previously. One apparent difference that makes BCT unique is that the HSK does not require a spoken test where BCT does. This affirms that BCT is apparently a better option than HSK because this feature of BCT makes it way better for people carrying out business-related activities.

6. It can’t be taken online, you have to go to an official test center

Unlike TOCFL which is another foreign language proficiency test, you cannot attend BCT tests online. The essential condition of the BCT test is that you are required to go to the official examination center abiding by other necessary specific instructions provided for attending the BCT exam. You are allowed to bring only pencils and erasers in the exam halls and other stuff like digital devices, dictionaries, notes, books are deemed to be unnecessary and prohibited. However, in many instances, you can see references that you can attend the BCT exam online. But it does not mean that you can attend the BCt exam from home. It rather means that you can attend the BCT exam from a computer but you must need to attend the specified exam hall or venue. This is a rule which is absolute and subject to no irregularities.

7. Study materials can be hard to find

One and probably the only challenge of giving a BCT exam is finding the study materials. It is a rare test and the resource is very limited. So if you want study materials such as prep books and workbooks, you won’t find much. In this regard, the most authoritative site is Hanban but it is not easy to use. The best site that you can find is PurpleCulture where you can find some materials that you might find useful.

But if you want to prepare for the BCT test, you can opt for the more common and popular HSK test materials as they are fairly similar. Moreover, HSK is more on the difficult side with the use of more vocabulary. So HSK study materials in this case can come in handy. And if you have already prepared for HSK, you have nothing to worry about.


Learning a new language is not easy and when it comes to taking a standardized test, it takes learning a new language to a whole new level. But If you prepare well enough, you will surely score a decent grade that you can use to apply for the desired job you are looking for.

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