Chinese with Listening Subject Test

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Introduction

The Chinese with Listening Subject Test is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge of written and spoken Mandarin. Whether you learned the language in a high school class or outside of school, this test can help you highlight your achievements and interest in the Chinese language.

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Test Basics

Scoring, Timing, Number of Questions
Points Minutes Questions
200–800

60 (20-minute listening section and a 40-minute usage and reading section)

70–75
(Multiple Choice)
Important:

Important Notes

Getting Ready for the Test

  • Ability to understand spoken Mandarin Chinese and identify what is being said in short, spoken dialogues and narratives about everyday topics.
  • Ability to complete sentences in a way that is appropriate in terms of structure (grammar), vocabulary, and context.
  • Identifying usage that is both structurally correct and contextually appropriate.
  • Understanding of such points as the main and supporting ideas, themes, and setting of a passage. Some of the passages are based on real-life materials such as timetables, forms, advertisements, notes, letters, diaries, and newspaper articles.
  • 2–4 years of Mandarin Chinese language study in high school, or the equivalent
  • Gradual development of competence in the language over a period of years
  • Review of sample listening questions using a practice CD that your counselor can order from the College Board
CONTENT Approximate % of Test

Listening comprehension
Based on short spoken dialogues and narratives, primarily about everyday topics. Two different kinds of questions are used: (A) a spoken statement, question or exchange, followed by a choice of three possible responses (also spoken); (B) a spoken dialogue or monologue with a printed question or questions (in English) about what was said.

33%

Usage
Requires structurally and logically correct completion of sentences. Questions are presented in four columns, allowing each question and its answer choices to be shown in four different ways of representing Chinese: traditional and simplified Chinese characters, and phonetic transcriptions in Pinyin romanization and the Chinese phonetic alphabet (Bopomofo). You choose the one that you are most familiar with.

33%

Reading comprehension
Tests understanding of main and supporting ideas, themes, and the setting of passages. All passages are written in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters, while all questions are in English. Most questions deal with understanding of literal meaning although some inference questions may be included.

33%


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Additional Things to Know

When should I take the Chinese with Listening test?

There are a few factors to consider as you decide when to take the test. You should have at least two years of strong preparation in the language, but the more the better.

It's recommended that you take the Chinese with Listening test as close to the end of the most advanced Chinese class that you plan to take, while still balancing college admission and placement requirements. You're likely not to do as well if you take the test after you haven't been in a Chinese class for several months.

  • For seniors studying Chinese: If Chinese is a strong subject for you, be sure it's one of the SAT Subject Tests you take in time for colleges to see your score. If you're only taking it for placement purposes, and not as part of your application, wait until you're as far along in your course as possible. If you want to take the Chinese with Listening test, remember that it's only given in November (don't forget to bring a portable CD player with earphones).

Which Chinese is used on the Chinese with Listening test?

The language used on the test is taken from pieces written and dialogue spoken by those who use Mandarin Chinese in their everyday lives. Words or sayings specific to certain geographic areas will not be used in the test. If you’ve had at least two years of strong preparation in the language, then you should be able to understand the Chinese on the test.

I am familiar with Chinese but have not taken a class in school. Can I still take the Chinese with Listening test?

No matter how you acquired your knowledge of Chinese, it’s important to show colleges what you know. Bilingual (or multilingual) abilities are achievements that deserve to be highlighted. Your test will be scored the same way as that of someone who learned Chinese only in the classroom. If you’ve been exposed to a lot of spoken Chinese, then you should definitely consider taking the Chinese with Listening test.

If you will be using these results to fulfill a college admission requirement, you should be aware that different colleges have different policies regarding Subject Tests in foreign languages. You should check with the colleges you’re interested in about their policies and seek guidance from your counselor or teacher on your specific situation.

Please note that this test reflects what is commonly taught in high school. Due to differences in high school classes, it’s likely that most students will find questions on topics they’re not familiar with. This is nothing to worry about. You do not have to get every question correct to receive the highest score (800) for the test. Many students do well despite not having studied every topic covered.