It’s hard to make last minute efforts for languages- for Chinese or English, it’s important to have a good foundation and to practise regularly. It’s not easy to brush up a language in a short time, especially if the Chinese papers are just a few days away.
The following tips are more generic and targeted at the very weak students who may fail the paper. Hopefully the following advice can help you.
If your Chinese is good, these tips are still useful when you are faced with a tough question.
1. During my schooling days, almost two decades ago, I had to memorise all the idioms, compositions and sentence structures.
While some critics say this is not active learning, I did get A1s for both my second language Chinese and Higher Chinese and it did help me with my career in the past decade.
If you have one or two years to prepare for the paper, I will advise you to read more Chinese books, speak more Mandarin to your friends and watch more Chinese television shows.
With just a couple of days to the paper, my best advice is for you to memorise as many words as you can from your textbook this weekend and learn how to use them. It’s better to know them than to try to guess it during the exams. If you are able to learn some good phrases for the composition, do it by all means. You can scorn at this method, but it does deliver results.
2. The syntax for Chinese and English sentence structures are very different. As much as you want to think in English, try your best to construct your thoughts in Chinese during composition writing and paper. This will reduce Chinese grammatical errors.
3. Close passage: they usually give eight options. Delete the words that you have already picked. If there are any words you don’t understand, you can gather the best answer through elimination.
And please, when you write the answer into the box, make sure you write it carefully. Since there are options for you, just copy the words from the option box.
4. Comprehension: (I will use Rosyth School’s 2011 paper as examples in this segment)
a. Read the passage carefully. If you don’t understand what it’s saying, look for the common words in the text and question.
For instance: Q:什么原因造成国王的朋友不喜欢接近他？
In the first paragraph of the passage, you see 朋友mentioned.
Let’s say you don’t understand the meaning of 疏远 or 暴躁. But you understand the words 朋友 and 骂人. You would be able to guess that the answer should be in this paragraph.
b. In comprehensions, they will give you a description and ask you to spot the word that matches it. If you don’t know which word is the correct word, read the broader story to get the context.
The paper required students to look for the phrase that mean: 做事小心、周到；细心注意。
Let’s say we can’t find the word. And we read this sentence.
Imagine: you had to put on a mask for two years. Taking the mask off would be a great deal and you will do it carefully, right?
So we can assume 谨慎 would mean 做事小心、周到；细心注意.
c. Sentence construction– In comprehension, they may require you to use a word from the passage to construct a sentence. This was in the Rosayth Sch’s Higher Chinese paper in 2011.
Question: Construct a sentence using 麻烦.
It’s really tough if you don’t understand the word. You could try to guess it using the context from the article as previously mentioned.
If you understand the word, but don’t know how to use the word/phrase, you could try to mirror the way the passage used it.
Always remember, in sentence construction, your example must illustrate the meaning of the word.
This is from the passage: 这段日子麻烦你了。
I could follow the same sentence structure:
(The sentence structure is similar and I explained why I troubled you.)
5. Like all our other tips, stay calm, manage your time, check your answers, read through to make sure they make sense.
Wei writes financial news in the day and solves PSLE problems at night. He recently set up a facebook page with his buddy just to help children with their PSLE queries. Like the page here for more academic tips!