If you live in Houston there’s only one real option for taking the HSK, YCT, BCT, or any other Hanban test you have in mind: the University of Texas in Dallas. You have to take the HSK or other test at an official Confucius Institute and the only one near you is in Dallas.
Locations near Houston
University of Texas at Dallas
Address: 800 West Campbell Road, JO31, Richardson, TX 75080
Phone: (972) 883-4860
Contact: Ming Dong Gu
What about Texas A&M?
Texas A&M closed their Confucius Institutes back in 2018. There used to be one at both the main campus and at Prairie View but after some political issues both those Confucius Institutes are closed. Without going into detail, those political issues don’t involve test takers in any way (besides less testing locations) but more to do with political concerns about Chinese influence on campus speech.
I think something similar is going on with the University of Texas at San Antonio. They have a Confucius Institute but it doesn’t have it own site. Instead it looks like it’s being absorbed into their East Asia Institute which takes care of international students and studies. You might be able to take the HSK there, I can’t find evidence one way or the other, but I can’t recommend it. I’ve also gotten similar comments regarding Texas Southern University and the Houston Independent School District.
When is the HSK test held?
So every Confucius Institute holds the HSK test on the same date because it’s all set by Hanban. Just to be clear, Hanban is another name for the Confucius Institute but it refers more to the administrative center in Beijing. For simplicity, when I talk about Hanban, I’m talking about the administrative center in Beijing and when I’m talking about the Confucius Institute, I’m talking about the learning center near you. Anyway, you can check out the official schedules for the HSK, YCT, and BCT on Hanban’s website but unfortunately Hanban doesn’t translate them for you. Here’s my translations of the 2019 test dates and I’ll update it as soon as the 2020 dates are released. You’ll need to sign up at least a month in advance of the test date.
Taking the HSK
To actually take the HSK test you need to do two things. First, you need to sign up on the Hanban website. Second, you’ll actually have to go and take the test.
To sign up you need to go to the Hanban website . You’ll need to make an account, choose a date and location, and officially sign up for the test. Be warned, there will also be a fee for taking test; this varies by test center but usually around $50 USD. Remember to sign up at least a month before you plan to take the test. I would also call the location and double check both that they’re actually holding the test and how to get there. If you want a more in-depth guide, Culture Yard wrote a great step-by-step guide about signing up for the HSK.
Once the test date arrives, drive to the Confucius Institute with appropriate ID, probably just a Driver’s License. Usually there’s no strict schedule, more like a four hour window when you can show up and take the test. At the Confucius Institute there will be someone, probably a student volunteer, who will take your information, set up your test area, and offer to store anything (like your phone) that you can’t bring into the test. There’s usually a few other people taking the test but no one says anything; it’s really quiet. Expect to spend about an hour taking the test.
Getting your results
You can get your score online from the Hanban website and you can even print out a copy of your passing score. It usually take Hanban 4-6 weeks to post your score online, so you won’t know if you’ve passed right away.
If you need an “official” certificate, you should be able to pick it up from the Confucius Institute where you originally took the test. According to Hanban, the test is shipped to your Confucius Institute 45 day after you take the test but in my experience you usually can’t pick it up until two months after you take the test. Either way, make sure to ask your Confucius Institute beforehand and double-check when you take the test to make sure you get the “official” certificate. I can’t say for sure that every Confucius Institute handles the “official” certificate in their own way but that’s been my personal experience at every Confucius Institute I’ve been to.