There’s only one location you can take the HSK test near San Francisco: UC Davis. You can also take the YCT, BCT, and HSSK tests there.
University of California at Davis:
Address 3011 Wickson Hall, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616
Phone: (530) 754-1234
Contact Person: Michelle Yeh
Wait, I can’t take it in San Francisco?
Nope. San Francisco State University used to offer it, I took an HSK test there myself, but they closed their Confucius Institute in May 2019. Stanford also used to offer the test but the person who ran it is no longer there. There may be a private institution offering to administer the test, but they’re rarely trustworthy so I recommend you stick with the official Confucius Institute site.
There’s more info on the web but about 30 Confucius Institutes have closed down in the past five years because of political tensions. The Confucius Institute’s are associated with the Chinese government and several US Senators are concerned about their influence on US college campuses. I’m not going to take sides or claim I know what’s really going on; I’m just explaining why it’s harder than it used to be to find a place to take an HSK test.
When is the Test?
The tests are held on the same days all over the world and are set by Hanban. Hanban is another name for the Confucius Institute but it refers more to the administrative center in Beijing. Simply put, Hanban in Beijing runs all the Confucius Institutes in the US. You can check out the official schedules for the HSK, YCT, and BCT here 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. Expect that you’ll need to sign up at least a month in advance of the test date.
How do I take the Test?
There’s two steps to taking the test, signing up and then actually taking it.
Culture Yard wrote an excellent step-by-step guide on signing up for the HSK. In general, however, you need to go to the Hanban website and signup there. You’ll need to make an account, choose a data and location, and then just show up at your local Confucius Institute to take the test. 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.
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 at the same time but everyone’s quiet. Expect to spend about an hour taking the test.
When/How do I get my results?
You will be able to get your score online a month after you complete the test. You can find this online at Hanban’s site and they’re pretty good about it. You can also print out a copy of your passing score but not everyone considers that an “official” certificate.
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 certainty 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.