For the last four semesters, the Mandarin Training Center at Shida has been administering standardized testing at the end of each semester in order to ensure proper placement of students each new semester.
On the plus side, they seem to be getting better at having tests that reflect what is actually taught in class.
The exam itself follows the following format (the one I took recently covered Book 2 chapters 5-12, other versions are similar):
Part I – Listening Comprehension (put on your goofy headsets and let the fun begin):
- Section 1 (10 questions) – multiple choice answers as to how best complete each dialog, the dialog is spoken twice and the answer choices are both spoken and listed in the test booklet
- Section 2 (6 questions) – answering questions based on a short conversation, conversation and questions are spoken, answer choices are spoken and listed in the test booklet
- Section 3 (4 questions) – in this section the recording is longer and there are two questions for each recording, as before answer choices are spoken and listed in the test booklet
Part II Speaking
- Section 1 – Reading – students record themselves reading a short paragraph, this level test differs from the previous ones in that the lower level tests included both Zhuyin Fuhao and Roman Pinyin for this section
- Section 2 (5 questions) – answering questions based on a picture
Part III – Writing
- Section 1 (10 questions) multiple choice/fill in the blank, what word best completes the sentence
- Section 2 (10 questions) -multiple choice/selecting the best meaning of each sentence
- Section 3 (3 questions) – answering questions based on a short article, previous exams did not have this, instead they had short sentences where students had to fill in the blank with the Chinese characters for the Zhuyin Fuhao and Roman Pinyin that was provided
- Section 4 (5 questions) – in each question, the first line of a dialog is given, students have to write out the response using the supplied grammar pattern
I haven’t gotten my results back, however it can’t be much worst than the previous exam where when I was listening to the recording for the first section I suddenly heard the zoom of a camera lens and looked up to see an instructor a couple feet from my face taking pictures of me struggling with my exam. I think I completely missed the first four questions because of that distraction. Luckily my instructor was sympathetic of my situation when I told her and didn’t count the first four questions against my final score.