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heifeng

Chinese Exams

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heifeng
Pinyin for most, but not all.

hey, roddy, i've been looking through that book recently and it seems like the words that don't have pinyin are for the "practice" sets, and are listed in 50 single character and word sets, just as they would be on the putonghua exam. For the most part everything else has pinyin though.

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heifeng

Ok, Here is my write up for the CATTI level three consecutive interpretors exam: ( I reserve the right to add more as I recover my memory and reflect more on it)

So the exam basically has 2 parts: zonghe, which is English listening comprehension and the Shili, which is divided up like this: duihua: (20 pts), Eng=> Chi (40 points about 300 words), Chi=> English (40 pts about 200 characters). We took the zonghe in the am, and the shili in the Pm.

I don't really need to comment too much on the zonghe since if someone is really interested in it you can look up info here: www.catti.net.cn. Basically it is English listening comprehension were you get some true and false questions and some A-D questions, fill in the blank of an article that they read word for word, and then summarize in English an article that you hear. I had to take this section..but I am assuming I am the only native speaker that took it~but Karma's evil and I'll get to that at the end...[see below}

the Shili exam left me with the following impression:

Vocab: Nothing was really terribly hard, or not as hard as I thought it would be (class and practice exams were harder), but you need to regularly read newspapers, know about the olympics, about trade, the environment, current events...etc. If youdo, then you should be fine. I was getting kinda nervous before the exam and memorized a ton of UN departments, and various US and China Government Department/Ministry names...etc. They didn't pop up, but it was good to know them once and for all. If you are NOT well read on such things then you will bump into problems. I think the hardest thing they had was just talking about low carbon emissions and energy efficiency, so they don't get really specialized, but general knowlege is important.If you get the exam booklets prep materials, those are HARD! but very very very interesting, so I highly recommend them as a tool to improve your Chinese studies, listening comprehension (gotta get the tapes too though), etc. Otherwise you can look at the UN website and find some biligual articles and such.

Numbers: You really can't bs with the numbers. In note taking (you only hear everthing once, the longest segments are probably 3 sentences long, and then they give you time to record) you need to take them down correctly, then you have to make sure you convert them correctly. I had practiced this and have overcome my general number confusion I suffered from before, but I know didn't write down some numbers in the Chi=> Eng section because to many came up at once..ughh. On some I didn't get them to the last 'one's' place, so I just said more than 2 thousand or something~So definitely lost some points there. Oddly NO number scame up in the Eng=> Chinese sections! drats! There numbers probably are one of the areas that will hurt me in my score. I think I got a majority of the numbers correct, but I think that when I interpreted some things that had percentage increases and decreases my grammar and word choice had some issues. Note to myself and anyone else, make sure you are very good with giving correct numbers and correctly expressing what you are trying to say....:oops: I should have definitely practiced this even more....(although to be honest I was dreaming about number conversions all last week)

Speed: The general speed is OK. It's not super slow or anything (very 'near' to normal speaking pace) and since it is an exam mainly for Chinese students the Chinese seemed faster than the English to me, but it's just probably my inaccurate assessment.

Recording: In the duihua section the time they gave you to record was very quick so you couldn't really think about it, you just had to go for it and interpret right away. In the other longer sections the time is fairly long, but the people talking around you will get quiet towards the end so somehow this ends up affecting your own speaking speed. However, there IS a bit of time to first organize your thoughts and then speak, which helps a bit. Also you are 'permitted' to a certain extent to listen to the person next to you. I mean you can't make it obvious, but if you get stuck and can't remember what one of the details were you can listen a bit. However I got stuck next to someone who would listen to my English and repeat me which threw me off so I had to talk a bit lower hehe..

Paper: Oh, they give you 4 sheets of paper for notes which is more than adequate. I think I use 1 sheet both sides if I write small, but probably used about 2 sheets.

Scoring: I have no clue whatsoever. You need a 60 in the zonghe and shili section to pass.

Me: I think I did decent, if I were to give myself a grade based on my past practice exams I would give myself a 65 in the Shili. Nothing great, but enough to scrape by. I'll report my score later...unless it is really bad, then don't come asking!:mrgreen: But it'll be interesting to see how I think I did and how they tell me I did....kinda frightening

General Thoughts: This exam has helped me realize that I really want to work on my Eng=> Chinese translation skills (yes, written first, then interpreting). I think that in terms of general communication I don't run into any problems, but once I want to express something very complicated, especially to interpret accurately what someone just said, completed with a long sentence and a ton of modifiers, things get a little messy. (of course depending on the type of interpreting simultaneous or consecutive and how you shorten sentences and the order that you speak can vary....but i'm just generally sayingI had to go back to my grammar book and look up the order of adjective modifers 名词修饰语的排列秩序in Chinese because I kept screwing those up when I listened to my recordings. Oh, by the way listening to your recordings is a very tramatizing, but helpful tool in general. I think that my Chinese=> English was ok and besides my numbers I made only 1 silly mistake I think ( the passage said 2 countries were名副其实的近邻 and instead of playing it safe I somehow convinced myself in that fraction of a second that they said 金邻 (yes I know different tones! hindsight is 20/20!!), which isn't a word I guess but I thought (once again in that whole fraction of a second) that those Chinese expressions are so abundant they must be saying something about being such super good neighbors being good as gold and somehow I ended up saying something to that extent and I dunno, I'm hoping they already paid attention to the begining and completely forget about my very last sentence) . Also my English to Chinese..hmm...how do I say it... I tried my best, it's not pretty, but I think it gets the idea across somewhat well enough. The C=>E, E=>C are equal in scoring but quantity wise there is more E=>C which is a bit nerve wracking:oops:

Karma & Don't Assume the proctors know what they are doing, or even that you know how to properly read the exam instructions listed in the website: Ok, so as the likely only native English speaking person taking this exam you would think that I should get a perfect score on listening comprehension, right? Well, I 'SHOULD", but let's just say (and I've already been torturing myself over this for the last 2 days) that I didn't quite realize that we had to use pen on the written portion of the listening comprehension score and now my test in that section may be disqualified since I used pencil all the way through. ( The most tragic, yes tragic part of this is that this was TRULY a "cough cough cough" ran exam in the level of disorder at the exam, the procters were watching me write in pencil lalalala and then pointed out to me and said, write your name in PEN on the scantron and the booklet. I then asked pencil for everything else, right? and got a yes/grunt in response. Later on I realized (as I thought to myself why is everyones summary pen, that's not right!!!) that the exam regulations (NOT PRINTED ON THE EXAM, but on the 3rd sheet of our 准考证, which I of course didn't take outta my bag since we had to check those) stated to use PEN in the 主观section of the exam....but since this was the first time I took it , i guess I was under the assumption the actual EXAM would say use pen RIGHT HERE...but now I probaly failed the English listening comprehension, and even if they grade it they will have think I cheated since I can guarantee you that I have a 100 percent in that section, but it's all in pencil so they are probably burning my exam as we speak wondering which reader I must paid off to fill in my answers......sigh...

So that's all I can think of now. Besides from my uncertain score b/c of pencil-gate, I did find this a very positive and motivating experience. I took classes on the weekends for this exam for the last 2 months, and in the end our 班长and two students were picked for getting a special 'improvement' award. I was one of the students, which I don't think I just got b/c of the laowai factor, but towards the end of the training I was suddenly able to hear things and organize them in my mind and then just spit it out while many students where still trying to hide behind their desks praying not to get called on. Aside from that I've had fun (yes, fun) sitting down and taking notes during the nightly news and reading back and forth with my Japanese classmate who will take the Japanese version of the exam in April.

Regardless of my score, I'm going to go for the level 2 exam next, and try to improve my Eng=>Chinese 笔译 to build a sturdier foundation and this exam has definitely given me that language goal that I needed to keep pushing myself.

----

I also reserve the right to fix all the typos later...yawn...

[edit] even thought the passing rate is less than 10% i am mildly optimistic b/c this was a generally good experience, but also because many people who actually take the exam have not prepared at ALL. I mean, even our teachers said that they get recordings of pure silence and even the guy sitting next to me seemed to give up after a while. Therefore I think that if you eliminate those people, the passing rate should be much higher:mrgreen: Plus, what they say is true, just speaking a foreign language isn't really enough to be good at translating/interpreting~ memory is quite improtant, plus a bunch of other things...

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roddy

Excellent stuff, thanks for doing the write up. Hope they don't take offense at your use of pencil.

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Josh2007

Can you take a translation test that is just one-way? Eg Chinese into English but not t'other way round? I understand that usually translators are not expected to translate into a language that is not their mother tongue, right?

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heifeng

[edit] apparently the bnu putonghua ceshi in february is just for current degree students so ya'll have to go to

shoudushifan daxue where satan's lil' helper works to take the exam if you are in bj :tong...since they have it there almost every month

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roddy

Here's another one for you which I at least haven't heard of - the 汉字应用水平测试. As far as I can tell this is a new one, and has only been trialled in 2007, and is due to be rolled out nationwide 2008-2009.

Covers 5,500 Chinese characters (for comparison the HSK totals 2,800 I think, so you're looking at about double that), divided into three levels of 4,000; 500 and 1,000. Odd distribution.

There doesn't seem to be much information out there about this one, but there is a 大纲 published.

Not sure that this one is actually of much use - it seems to be being touted for entry to public servant positions, journalism and so on, but there are already exams for that - 公务员考试, and one for reporters - not sure how widely used these are though. But could be useful for anyone who wants to learn loads of characters. I had a look round for an online 子表, but no joy. There are some sample questions though.

Anyway, will look forward to your post-exam report, heifeng. Good luck!

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Jenny311

It's interesting to read your experi ence. I was on the same boat with you, but opposite directions.-- I just finish my MA degree learning on Translation & Interpreting, going throught all those painful note-taking and memerizing stuff. But I'm a native Chinese. Maybe we can be helpful to each other.

Looking forward to your exam result, too.

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heifeng

Congrats on finishing your degree! What exams have you had to take to become certified in the UK? I am definitely interested, and I am sure there are others that are quite interested, in your experience pursuing your M.A. degree if you would like to share:mrgreen:

Hmm, I'm not really looking forward to my results since they may potentially put me in a bad mood for a while. Even so I will ~probably~ post them online....they are out in just over a week or so....

By the way happy new year and Chinese exam taking in the upcoming new year to all the forum members hehe:mrgreen:

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roddy

Not sure if this would be better off as a separate topic or not, but will have one of our admin folk split it off if it becomes necessary. I'm asking here as it's relevant to the 普通话测试,but it's maybe not only relevant to that.

I've been presented with a copy of the 普通话测试指要, which is apparently out of date but features the 现代汉语常用字 (2,500) and 次常用字 (1,000). I wanted to have these as I like lists, even if they're not of much practical value. Lists allow me to calculate, divide and plan, without the need for any actual study.

Anyway, the book has these lists, in pinyin order. However, I can't find online any versions of this list which are even ordered by pinyin, much less contain pinyin or any other value added information. All that's available is a stroke-ordered version, ie.

Does anyone know of anything in electronic format for these lists? I have looked, but only as far as page two of Google.

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heifeng

通过了!!!! [edit: I think!!!. Wait, edit again, actually looks good]

i passed the level three interpretors exam.

综合: 86

实力: 66

Almost exactly what I would have given myself...except that I think my English comprehension should have been a 90+ being that I am a native speaker...then again maybe they were still pissed at my using pencil...and living in China hasn't really helped my English skills any:mrgreen:

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roddy

Congratulations! And thanks for allowing us the vicarious experience, I almost feel like I've passed myself.

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heifeng

hehe thanks!

yeah...but NOW i'm nervous b/c i saw this post....we were told the cut off is 60 during training at the waiwenju..i hope it really didn't suddenly raise to 70!!! This would make me extremely unhappy:evil: they shouldn't post a 'standard' after the fact....tremble at the thought...

but seriously it took them 2 months + to give us our scores, talk about making us sweat!

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imron

Congratulations, and well-done. And if they do raise the standard, at least that gives you something to aim for next time :mrgreen: Soon there'll be no more exams left for you to take!

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heifeng

hehe many thanks! even if i don't get the certificate this time, the exam did open my eyes to the limitations of my current Chinese skills, so it'll definitely make me aim higher next time:mrgreen:

according to my '2008 new years resolutions plan' I hope to take some of the level 2 exams at some point this year. Probably writing first since that will build up a stronger foundations for the interpreting...

I'm probably pushing back my pcs (putonghua ceshi) to March though, since now i'm managed to collect bets on it and would like to actually profit off of them...:mrgreen:. (actually, I'm just going to 'baoming' with a Chinese friend who claims he can get一级甲, I'm just placing my own bet (hopes) that I can get 二级sumfin..hehe)

Soon there'll be no more exams left for you to take!

after these '2008' exams...no exams ever ever ever ever ever again!:wink:

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imron
after these '2008' exams...no exams ever ever ever ever ever again!
Yeah, you said that about the HSK too :wink:
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roddy
I'm probably pushing back my pcs (putonghua ceshi) to March though, since now i'm managed to collect bets on it and would like to actually profit off of them.... (actually, I'm just going to 'baoming' with a Chinese friend who claims he can get一级甲, I'm just placing my own bet (hopes) that I can get 二级sumfin..hehe)

Well let us all play! What odds are you offering?

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heifeng

Now you want details...hmm

Since I haven't found spare time to run any major gambling rings lately I might be rusty at calculating actual 'odds' . However I think my Chinese friend has better chance than me.

Do you 'want in' in terms of $$ or participating to 'get your ideal score'? If I can also peer-pressure my Japanese friend into participating too we could potentially have a total of 4 'opponents' .

Or we can have a pool and just list numbers 60-(hahah) 100 and see who takes the jackpot on my score. I have to say I was really close on my CATTI score....should have taken bets then:mrgreen:

Otherwise if no one bites on this bet then I will either just end up getting my pcs paid for by my friend or end up paying for his when the results come out....:roll:

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cdn_in_bj

Heifeng, you rock!

Seriously, congrats on your score - you are an inspiration to all Chinese learners!

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