Frequently Asked Questions
Who should take the placement test?
You should take the test if any one of the following applies to you:
- You are required to meet the language requirement (two-year, three-year, or more)specified by your own department or school.
- You know some Chinese (e.g. you studied Chinese elsewhere before, or you are from a Chinese family background) and wish to take a Columbia Chinese course other than the elementary level.
- You haven’t taken any Chinese classes at Columbia University for over a year and wish to pick it up again.
- You had taken a Chinese placement test one year ago and now you wish to take a Chinese course at Columbia.
- You took a Chinese course at Columbia and received a C or lower for your final grade in the first semester of that course; or C+ or lower for your second semester of that course. In other words, you have to get a C+ or better for the first semester in a Chinese course at Columbia in order to continue the course in the second semester. In order to enter the next level, you must get a B- or better. If your grade is lower than required, you need to pass the placement test to be able to continue your study.
Who should NOT take the placement test?
Do not take the test if any one of the following applies to you:
- You wish to take elementary Chinese courses.
- You cannot read Chinese.
- You are a Ph.D. student from Teachers College who would like to take a proficiency exam to fulfill your degree requirement.
- If you have a public (not international) high school or college diploma from mainland China or Taiwan where Mandarin Chinese is the official language, you do not need to take the test. Please contact Prof. Tianqi Jiang (email@example.com) with your diploma to receive the language certificate, which will exempt you from the 2-year foreign language requirement.
How can I make up the test if I have missed it?
The online test usually opens 8-15 days, so if you miss the test window, you should tentatively sit in on a class that approximates your current level. If you do not know your level, you may try different levels of classes and talk to the instructors to decide which one you want to take.
If you are from CC, BC, GS or SIPA and just want to be placed out of the language requirement without taking our class, you have to wait till the placement test in the coming semester. Or you may pay a fee if you do not want to wait.
The online test will be published around 10 days prior to the first day of the Fall/Spring semesters.
Do I need to sign up for taking the test?
No, you do not need to register for the exam.
Which character form is used in the test?
Both traditional and simplified forms are available in the same packet. You may choose the one you prefer, but be consistent throughout the test.
Is there a way that I can prepare for the test?
The test is not based on any currently used textbook or course materials. The best way to prepare, perhaps, is to review the textbooks you have used before.
What is the format of the test?
The test consists of the following:
1. Directions for the Test. This is conducted in the beginning at 10:00 am. The information sheet and the test papers will be distributed to each student. Directions will be given.
2. Timed Writing (30 minutes). You are expected to write a narrative story in Chinese characters based on the pictures provided. When the time is up your writing will be collected even if it is unfinished. Try to write as much as you can and use as many expressions and vocabulary as appropriate in order for us to better assess your vocabulary range and proficiency level. For words that you cannot write in Chinese characters, you can use Pinyin.
3. Listening Comprehension (approx. 20 minutes). Multiple-choice type questions. You are expected to choose the appropriate answer, after you hear a sentence, a short dialog or a short passage, and mark the corresponding number on the answer sheet. During this test, you should skip the items that are beyond your level, rather than randomly guess the answers.
4. Written Test (grammar, vocabulary and reading comprehension). Multiple-choice type questions. You are expected to mark your choice of answer on the answer sheet. During this test, you should also skip the items that are beyond your level, rather than randomly guess the answers.
Oral Test: It will take about five minutes and will be held after you finish the written parts.
When will the test results be available?
Results will be posted outside 508 Kent after 4 p.m. on the same day. Students who take the test for certification purposes should pick up their certificates within TWO weeks from the date of the exam. See the contact info. above for the office location and phone number.
Please read the FAQ carefully, if you have any additional questions, please contact Prof. Tianqi Jiang (firstname.lastname@example.org).