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heifeng

Chinese Exams

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heifeng

嘿黑 thanks! Of course you wouldn't say that if ya heard my tones, but I'll accept any compliments thrown my way:wink:

But seriously, I think the exams listed here are quite interesting and that's why I started the thread, so hopefully it does prove useful to other Chinese learners and help them find new ways to study and so forth :D

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heifeng

Oh, so, FYI, here is the schedule for this year's PCS in Beijing

And if you are interested, don't forget to look at the regulations, such as this one:

5.再次要求接受测试的,必须与前一次接受测试的时间间隔满3个月以上。否则,一经电脑查出,取消本次测试资格,并不予退还测试费。

Which, completely foils my plan to retest many many many times...ok, well I guess a March 'practice test' and THEN a June 'real' test, when I'm better prepared and not just keeping my fingers crossed, is reasonable too...:tong

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heifeng

ok, so since I've had a lot of time to kill today...ughhh. I've discovered this putonghua resource/ website: which also has a forum....an apparently not very active forum...:mrgreen:

I've also discovered that you can find other people's answers to the question on the exam too if you just search 普通话测试说话稿.

Studying on my end is going...ok. I really want to chicken out of the PCS in March, but I figure I'll need to get depressed over my score in order to continue forcing myself to keep practicing speaking so I'll just see if I can sign up without any problems on the 7th....

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roddy

You can't give up! If you give up, what hope is there for the rest of us. Don't underestimate your role as spiritual beacon and all-round role-model . . .

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imron
You can't give up! If you give up, what hope is there for the rest of us. Don't underestimate your role as spiritual beacon and all-round role-model . . .
Hear, hear!

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heifeng

hahah...funny. Even 'spiritual beacons' get nervous though. Maybe I'll bring a 蒙古口杯 to the exam to fix that though...However in the meantime I'll just keep up studying to build some real confidence and register for the exam next week hehe.

Anyway, as you all have probably experienced at one point, the more ya study, the more ya know how much you don't really know. Its fascinating and depressing at the same time.

Oh, FYI, I've actually changed the book that I have been studying from for the last 2 month, but think that it is very complete in a 'concise' sort of way. Its also a great on the bus book since its lightweight and somewhat rollable like a magazine to slip into my purse...yes, because these are important features I look for in books:mrgreen:

here it is

isbn 978-7-5617-4968-5

普通话水平测试教程, 华东师范大学出版社。

27元(含盘)

and it's a blue and white text. I have the other book I mentioned earlier, but I tend to like to work from this book more actually. Whenever I need to refer to the pinyin in the langdu section I refer to my other book though since this one doesn't contain pinyin of those readings.

Anyway, I think that in the near future I'll just start an PCS thread to write all about more of my studying experiences and try to get my friend to write one up too. In the meantime, for my current status report, I've practiced at least 40 of the 60 readings and have recorded 30 of them for future reference (ie. to compare after 3 months). Now in the final month before the exam I am trying to practice and record a langdu and 1 question response per day~I'm somewhat 'on schedule' I suppose, but I'm gonna have to hustle a bit this month. In terms of section 1 and 2, (the single and multisyllable word readings), studying for the other sections helps with that, but I try to practice those 1-2 sets a week . However, sometimes there are some really strange characters that I've never seen before...and my general opinion is if it's not in my FLTRP Concise E-C, C-E dictionary...I don't really really need to know it...j/k

ok..tbc

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heifeng

Ok, so I'm all signed up for the PCS on March 22nd. I better read my 准考证thoroughly this time. There is an optional 培训班in the morning 1 week prior to the exam that was an additional 30yuan. (cost breakdown: exam: 50, certificate fee: 5, (optional costs: prep: 30: textbook: 31..i think...I didn't buy one~cheaper than the HSK at least :mrgreen: ) Anyway, I'll do a write up as always after both and even give my score which should be available on 4/5. So if I'm more bitter or angry than usual in my replies on the forums around that time, I apologize in advance.

My general feeling is that as long as I don't totally bomb it or get too nervous I'll do 'ok', but I would like toget an is 80+ or (二级乙) score at least :roll: Anything too humiliating might not get as thorough of a write up. And anything less than a 60 would mean that they had to create a whole new 级just for me hehe... Although all I have to go in terms of relative scoring (for CSL'ers) is based on my Japanese friend's previous score. However it is very possible that her score may be much better than mine since her problems are more of a 发音系统性缺陷 nature...unlike yours truly, which is more a matter of the tone just being wrong PLUS maybe some 发音系统性缺陷 :( so, in summary, comparing apples and oranges and potentially more (severe) deductions for me!...but overall we both spent about 3 months preparing prior to the first time taking the exam...so that's fair enough. :mrgreen:

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roddy

Good luck! :)

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heifeng

Thanks Roddy!

Oh, by the way, during the 'lianghui', its is a good time to find press conferences such as this one and practice your own personal interpreting skills. This one is pretty good for practice because its really slooooow and very general...enjoy:mrgreen:

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heifeng

Ok, so I went to the 30 yuan pre-pcs peixun saturday at shoudushifan daxue. It wasn't too bad, the lecturer was really quite good and actually had a sense of humor. However 1/2 of the lecture was just talking about the exam format and how points are deducted, all of which is already listed in any prep book. Oh well. However, there were some highlights since the teachers really 'know their putonghua' and took some time to enlighten us on the range of problems test takers run into:

1) j, q, x: the teacher noted girls tend to screw these up more and often say x like s. This is incorrect.

zhi, chi, shi: Guys tend to mumble these so you can't really hear very clearly. This is also bad. He also yelled at the guys to enunciate in general.

2) 二is DEFINITELY not ‘ERR’…it’s er! He then instructed everyone to watch news broadcasters announced the date on Tuesday.

3) Basicly the W vs. V debate. He gave some background and said that ‘statistically’ older men like to say W instead of V and that he personally likes W because you can say W for 文,我, basically whatever the ‘w’ character, but that’s not really the case for V. However, according to the Putonghua office either pronunciation can be accepted, but it’s definitely not like the English V or W, so don’t think you can get away with anything for this one.

2) Beijinghua is not exactly putonghua. Well it's close, but there are differences, so he warned Beijing students to make sure they review beforehand and don't assume that they speak perfectly standard putonghua. He mentioned students from Shanghai, for example, know how to turn on and off their shanghaihua and putonghua whereas Beijing students may not do this and may be deducted quite a bit during the exam! He also noted that in Hong Kong or somewhere down there... if a teacher can get 87 points then they might even get a big fat bonus from their danwei, but that don't expect that to happen in Beijing:mrgreen:

Oh yeah, back to putonghua vs. Beijinghua, Beijinghua has alot more qingsheng so he again emphasized that we need to be familiar with qingsheng etc.(**) Also you can't throw in some beijing tuhua and assume it's putonghua (i.e. the mingti section of the exam) Also, don't throw in that beijinghua kinda high pitched very exaggerated sound...i don't know what that is called in Chinese...I'll have to think about this...

Anyway, these of course applied to the Chinese students, but it was interesting to hear what their pronunciation problems are in general.

(**)

Another interesting point, which I wasn't really clear about before is the active, continuing standardization of putonghua. Basically, be careful when you refer to OLD dictionaries. Here's an example:

作 formerly had 3 tones zuo4(most common, right?), zuo1(作坊), and zuo2(作料

HOWEVER, officially this character only has 2 correct pronunciations, 作料should now be pronounced with a 4th tone.

However, in terms of qingsheng there are some cases where the word must be qingsheng and others were it CAN be read as a qingsheng. IF it CAN be read qingsheng, then either reading it qingsheng or using original tone is fine.

The whole ABB tone change to B= 1st tone rule. Basically, the putonghua peeps aren't messing with this either and conserving their energy for other battles so the BB can be read with the original tone, or be changed to a 1st tone. There may be some exceptions (I mean you can only cover so much in 2 hours) so, for more details feel free to reference a pcs text.

Anyway, I was a bit uncertain on some of these rules before so the session did help some and I'll add more if I remember anything else, but that would actually require me to look back at my scribbles if I can find where I tossed them. I think I mainly took notes on tone change rules for the 3rd tone cases, but mostly I was interested in knowing if we could bring a dictionary and had time to check some words while we are waiting. Apparently we only randomly draw 1 langdu and 1 mingti...so slightly different than at BNU. We CAN bring a dictionary though :mrgreen:

Anyway, less than a few more days left to go, but I realized although I got through all 60 of those langdu, my preparation didn't allow enough time to practice answering questions....garghhhh..Oh well, there is always summer, when, with continued practice I think I can actually meet my target score.

As always I encourage others to participate in these masochistic exams! You don't even need to sign up for the peixun since I just told you the highlights so it would only cause you 55yuan~ just a fraction of the HSK :lol:

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simonlaing

Good Luck Heifeng,

We're all rooting for you.

Work your chinese magic.

have fun,

Simon:)

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heifeng

Thanks!...but uh-oh, now the pressure's on, some board members actually remembered I sight up for this hehe! I was secretly hoping everyone forgot :mrgreen:

I will have fun indeed...that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger right....right? *crickets*chirp**chirp***

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roddy

Very true. Course, the fatality rate in the Putonghua Ceshi isn't exactly low . . .

Good luck again!

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heifeng

Yeah, I survived. Here’s my write up:

Ok, so I took the exam Saturday. I was bit nervous the few days before hand mostly b/c I wasn't really sure what to expect in terms of how we could use our 'preparation time' and what books we could bring. Worst case scenario I thought it would just be us given our test booklet and only allowed to reference a dictionary. Thus I crammed and reread all 60 articles in the 2-days prior to see if I forgot any characters. However it turned out that we could basically reference whatever we wanted (maybe other exam sites are different, I dunno) so I didn't have to stress myself so much in the long run. Basically at 10am I randomly pulled an article and 2 questions, i.e. part 3 and 4 of the exam. (I ended up with article 15 and me and sports or my company/oganization/school. I chose the later. I'll talk about these below**). Afterwards I had about 10 minutes to prepare the question and reread the article from whatever books I had brought along. (Note to self, next time I'll just bring the MP3 and read along hehe to get the feel for it better)

Anyway, about 10 minutes later you are told to sit outside an office and given Part 1 and 2 of the exam (100 characters and 50 words).

Thoughts on preparing for parts 1 & 2:

A majority of these characters are fairly common characters, but you definitely don't have much time to look up characters so you really just need to know the correct pronunciation right off the bat. In HINDSIGHT, there were a few characters and words I did not know and tried to look them up. This proved pretty inefficient. Knowing what I know now, I would have just looked in my prep book under the 'easily mispronounced' list of words because, as it turned out the ones I didn't know were right there :oops: But once again, I wasn't quite sure of what reference materials we could or could not bring, and the prep time went by super fast! By the way the few characters that I actually remember that I completely didn't know was 羹...(oddly enough in the last 2 days I've seen it on TV 2x's now...grr)..and I know I got the tones wrong for 寥and 袍。For part 1 if I got it wrong it’s literally because I ‘thought’ I knew it, but didn’t. For part II I completely don't remember any of the words that I didn't know during the exam. My brain must have blocked out my memory of those.

Parts 3

This was my article which rates on the easier end of the 60...(see this to see the text and hear a 'perfect' putonghua recording I guess) :mrgreen:

The reading went fairly smoothly. I made 3 ‘avoidable’ mistakes that I can actually recall.

1) I automatically retracked and re-read 3 characters before I could stop myself (which equals deductions for pronouncing it wrong in the first place plus a re-read deduction)

2) I made and awkward pause when reading 不一定...I think I was overly concerned on the tone changes...oops

3) I added a 了in there somewhere, which FYI adding or deleting any characters also results in a deduction.

So between parts 1-3 I am guessing I wracked up at least 2-3 points in the ‘stupid’ mistakes category. Other deductions are just due to more deeply rooted problems…

Part 4

I just talked about my ‘school’ since I felt it kept the complicated vocab to a minimum. Content isn’t the most important part of this section, so I figured I could minimize my pronunciation mistakes better if I was talking about teachers and hanyu classes rather than different sports and such. I really can’t predict how I did in this section, but all I can say is those 3 minutes went by super slow which may have meant I spoke too fast…hmm. But it ‘felt’ like I was speaking quite slowly actually. It didn’t really sound that great to me and I think my speaking ended up have a very bumpy feeling, but whatever, that’s what I need to work on the most anyway. However I am convinced the proctors lost track of the time and I was really speaking for 5+ minutes…I dunno…2 of the 3 test proctors (Yes there were 3 of them and one of me in there) were seriously (quietly) talking throughout my whole section 4. It was quite distracting. I am guessing that in section 1-3 they already know what to expect and are following along (occasionally you can hear a pen scribble when you screw up) but section 4 they may go back and listen to the recording in more detail so they don’t need to pay that much attention during the actual exam. Ugh who knows! Exams in China are always interesting to say the least.

The end.

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roddy

Interesting stuff, many thanks for the write up.

It was only recently that I realized there are only 60 possible readings - I thought the 60 in the book I have were just examples of the kind of thing you might have. That piece you did isn't too bad.

Anyway, have a well deserved rest :mrgreen:

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heifeng

No problemo.

Yeah I definitely lucked out and drew a relatively easy one. As long as it wasn't number 25 I was happy though!

Indeed, there are only 60 possible readings, and most of them are really quite enjoyable to read (laoshe, maodun, etc..., and some translated pieces too...) so it's worth it to go through them all...

Also, even if a student doesn't plan to take the exam I would highly recommend reading them. Sometimes I see posts on the board from people looking for Chinese texts to read along with, I would fully recomment these, and they are all online too :lol:

if rest = karoke, then yeah, already rested up:mrgreen:

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heifeng

oh yeah, I was killing time yesterday and discovered that recordings for some of the pcs readings listed on tudou are a bit slower for those of you who want to practice...here, or just search 普通话测试的朗读作品.

Fascinating discovery, I know, but actually, I think the female reader's voice is very sweet, much more pleasant than the female voice on the mp3 included in the exam outline. (That reader on those mp3's seriously has a granny voice...which is fine for listening to stories, but not when you are trying to find a voice to imitate.)

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heifeng

So, I officially have my grade for the PCS. In my opinion it is a respectable grade and I am actually quite happy with it…or to be more accurate I should just say I’m relieved. I didn’t hit my target score but while I was studying I realized how much I didn’t know, so in the end my score ended up in the range I ‘expected’:

Ladies and gentlemen, a 74.6, for the equivalent of a三级甲。

Now let’s take a look at this standard, according the putonghua ceshi website:

The bad news is mistakes are plentiful ~ 25%. True dat. I can’t really deny it. However I know that the mistakes are 95% tones and not necessarily声韵母, but they are deducted the same…wahh. Even so, this is actually a huge improvement for me. Back when I first came to China my mistakes were hmm…(well let’s see 1 in four chance of getting the tones right, but then in an actual word, the probability of getting it right is even lower plus factor in the second character only has a one five chance if you count the qingsheng, so maybe I had a 1/4 * 1/5 probability of the tone being correct before…yeah, it was that bad. What can I say I learned most of my Chinese outside of China with Fangyan speakers yo ) Moving right along, I think that as a CSL learners we can’t really start from the top and think ‘how’ far am I from 100 points, because I don’t think many of us will be news broadcasters any time soon and we weren’t raised with putonghua. However, I think a more realistic way to look at the score is from the bottom up and seeing how far up we can go, since learning a second language is basically starting from zero and working your way up. Although I didn’t get my 二级,I think I am at an ‘ok’ starting point to continue to improve. (Plus I secretly scanned the grade sheet and I was definitely not the only student with a score below 80 wahahaha)

So, yeah, other than numbers and what the pcs website says about mistakes and tones and blah blah blah, what does this score mean, hmm...well after a bit of googling, I found this which says:

1999年有了《国家通用语言文字法》,在法律里明确规定了国家机关工作人员必须达到普通话的规定的等级。但不可能要求公务员达到播音员的一级甲等的水平,只是要求公务员达到三级甲等,三级甲等就是一个相互能够听懂,不至于产生误会的水平

hey, that's not too bad:mrgreen:

Next time:

Although I didn’t win my lil’ wager with my Japanese friend who earned a 80.7, I know some of the silly mistakes I made to at least loose 3-5 points this time and am convinced as long as I haul a$$ next time I should be able to break into an 二级 level…Also, I think it is important to note that the exam is really about perfect standard putonghua (not just slurring words like a native or what not, that’s EASY!) you have to have a really strong knowledge base in general not to loose points in sections 1 and 2 and need to be really aware of how you speak in general. This requires some serious dedication and good speaking habits….and this just become incredibly annoying after a while to be honest. Trust me, you start hanging out with Shifan students before or after they graduate and HAVE to get an 二级甲 and you don’t even want to open your month. J/k those are the students that you can learn the most from if they really studied for the exam b/c they are not afraid to tell you exactly what you are doing wrong and why it’s wrong!

Now here are some other random reflections on the exam.

A) First of all, my hat goes off to the PCS office at shoudushifan daxue because they are really organized. They must test at least 200 students each month yet you get your result really quickly and the office peeps really know what they are doing. (Not to trail off course too much, but a CERTAIN exam I took in NOV last year still doesn’t have my certificate because they keep screwing up my name…no hurry it’s only been over 1/2 a year now). However, I think I did run into ‘satan’ at the office when I picked up my certificate today (AKA the bitter old lady who answered the phone the first time I called and managed to really p%^& me off**), but the rest of the staff is quite nice so no big deal. (Yeah, they even broke my score to me even before I picked up my zhengshu…oh yeah your score is 70 sumfin….hmmm golly. thanks for announcing it, do you think you need a megaphone while you’re at it…haha j/k. They were nice about it) So, as much as I’m sure many of us have had ‘interesting’ experiences in China taking exams, the PCS is a nice, tightly run ship in my opinion!

[**Ok, so even though this lil' old lady has an attitude problem, I'll admit she has a good ear for putonghua. If you refer to my 10/16 post she actually said I could probably only get a 60 something, at highest a 70-something. Sure that turned out to be true, but it wasn't as bad as she made it out to sound, and that was only following me 'really' studying for 3 months. Anyway, interested persons could probably call the office and see if she picks up to have her yell at you too:mrgreen: and get a 'free' evaluation. ]

B) So, why did I take the PCS. Well, now I ‘really’ know where I stand in terms of standard putonghua. I really don’t trust the HSK since it’s designed for foreigners and puts a greater emphasis on content rather than pronunciation and I definitely don’t trust what people off the street say since that is clearly skewed and they themselves do not necessarily speak properly either, so I took the exam to get an idea of how I compared with the best of the best. Of course it’s not pretty, but that’s why it’s probably the most useful feedback so far.

Conclusion: To me this exam was like peeling off the rough outer skin of an onion. The good news is that I think my putonghua is much more shiny and polished now. Sure there are more layers and levels to get through but I’ve already stuck with studying this language so long already so I’ll have plenty of time to work on it more in the future.

Phew!

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heifeng

Oh, fun, I just found these sample links here

Look at the lower left column, under 最 新 推 荐

and wala:

普通话一级甲等语音示范

普通话一级乙等语音示范

普通话二级甲等语音示范

普通话二级乙等语音示范

普通话三级甲等语音示范

普通话三级乙等语音示范

There are student sample exam recordings corresponding to the different levels of the exam. Its kind of fun to hear how standard the mandarin gets as the level gets higher. Or maybe I'm the only one nerdy enough to be entertained by this:mrgreen:

[edit, I realize that not everyone is as familiar with this exam, so here is some more general information], i.e.

普通话水平划分为三个级别,每个级别内划分两个等次。其中:

97分及其以上,为一级甲等;

92分及其以上但不足97分,为一级乙等;

87分及其以上但不足 92分,为二级甲等;

80分及其以上但不足87分,为二级乙等;

70分及其以上但不足 80分,为三级甲等;

60分及其以上但不足70分,为三级乙等。

oh, and here is another interesting puthonghua site www.pthxx.com, it also describes industry requirements for the exam here

根据各行业的规定,有关从业人员的普通话水平达标要求如下:

中小学及幼儿园、校外教育单位的教师,普通话水平不低于二级,其中语文教师不低于二级甲等,普通话语音教师不低于一级; 高等学校的教师,普通话水平不低于三级甲等,其中现代汉语教师不低于二级甲等,普通话语音教师不低于一级;对外汉语教学教师,普通话水平不低于二级甲等。

报考中小学、幼儿园教师资格的人员,普通话水平不低于二级。

师范类专业以及各级职业学校的与口语表达密切相关专业的学生,普通话水平不低于二级。

国家公务员,普通话水平不低于三级甲等。

国家级和省级广播电台、电视台的播音员、节目主持人,普通话水平应达到一级甲等,其他广播电台、电视台的播音员、节目主持人的普通话达标要求按国家广播电影电视总局的规定执行。

话剧、电影、电视剧、广播剧等表演、配音演员,播音、主持专业和影视表演专业的教师、学生,普通话水平不低于一级。

公共服务行业的特定岗位人员(如广播员、解说员、话务员等),普通话水平不低于二级甲等。

普通话水平应达标人员的年龄上限以有关行业的文件为准。

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heifeng

So it' been half a year since my last post here, but now I finally have some more useful links...

One way recommended to improve one's putonghua is listen to standard putonghua (duhhh), so here's a site that I have just discovered:

听吧

there are many interesting things to listen to, including novels such as奋斗....but you'll have to stomach the intro to the 子夜柔情的个人空间 sound file...garg....

Enjoy!

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