I finished the first book which is for the new HSK 1 exam. I did the mock test in the back and got 100% of the problems correct. I have started on the second book which is for the level 2 test of HSK. This book is much thicker than the first, but it seems to have just used more pages on testing.
The HSK books are in Japanese, but I'm not bothering to read much of the explanations in Japanese when I already understand the Chinese example sentences. I basically just copy all of the Chinese words and sentences and then listen to the audio, and then I do the test at the end of each lesson.
This series is kind of bad, in the way it uses words in examples that it has not yet introduced. First, it has a list of words at the beginning of the lesson. But it also has a supplementary list of words at the end of the lesson. These words are then used in the testing section which appears right afterwards. So there's no real chance to learn the words or get used to them before you are tested. Hopefully no users of these books are only learning Chinese from just these books. Although, both the first book and the second book started out with lessons on pronunciation, which I skipped.
As for my writing out of the Assimil lessons, I am finished through lesson 31. I have noticed, there are a few occasions where completely new words are used in the exercises after the lesson. Like today in lesson 31, I was writing out the sentences (there are only 4) in the completion exercises, and I couldn't remember at all how to write yinggai. So I looked in the index to find it and instantly I knew this word had not been used in any previous lessons. The Chinese character for ying was completely new to me. So I looked at the "lesson number" column and it showed, "31, 45" which means it was first used in this lesson that I was on, and again later in lesson 45.
This week I ordered two more books from Amazon.co.jp.
First, I wanted this book for the speaking test of HSK.
It comes with a CD too.
The second book I ordered at the same time as the first is this one which has example sentences and the audio of them in Chinese only.
I also found 2 more books that have example sentences and the audio included. One book has 800 sentences. But I think it's going to take me a long while to finish the book above. Although, that 800 sentence book also has the Japanese translations recorded on separate tracks. But probably, when I finish this book, I won't need any more books, or I'll need regular books with more vocabulary.
I hope I can keep this up. I think it is taking more than 2 hours a day now. The Assimil lessons are getting longer and I still write out the dialog 3 times.