Brendan on September 12, 2011
Can't speak to the HSK question -- maybe David can? -- but I'd back Xiao Hu up on using handwriting input as a way of reinforcing characters. If you're in China or have access to Chinese bookstores, 字帖 character-tracing workbooks are a great resource for this, and you can use them while you're watching TV or doing something else.

I'd be interested to know more about the new HSK as well. Personally, I've gone out of my way to keep my handwriting ability up, so I use handwriting input on my phone and make a point of doing longhand drafts of any reasonably long e-mails or documents that I write in Chinese. Then again, I don't have any particularly good reason to do this -- other than that I put a lot of work into getting the characters into muscle memory and I'd like to keep them there -- and I've met plenty of people who have decided, probably not without reason, that being able to write characters is just not a priority for them. There are more than a few Chinese people who feel the same way, and I'd love to know whether or not the new HSK reflects that. (My guess would be 'no' -- practicality is so rarely a concern when it comes to Chinese test design.)
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