We assume you've heard of Mark Rowswell, the amiable Canadian whose CCTV comedy sketches as alter-ego Dashan have made him the most famous foreigner in China. And so we have some bad news: despite the progress you've made in Chinese over the past few years, you may never have the chance to challenge the master to a one-on-one fight to the death on a rocky ledge overhanging a pool of molten lava.
In a chance encounter at Sanlitun, Mark's publicist assured us that Dashan does not as a matter of policy accept invitations to certain death showdowns. While he sidestepped our question of whether this is a morally defensible position given the man's linguistic skills, he did say that "anyone who feels like a challenge should just take the HSK." And he's right. Especially at the higher levels, the HSK test is filled with incredibly tricky questions of word usage. Just like in our sample HSK test for today. How well can you do?