Let me first preface this article by saying that nothing is ever easy, and that to get good results you must definitely work hard for it. Nevertheless, you’ll be glad to know that in the previous two years of Chinese B results (after the syllabus change), we only have 4 Grade 6s out of 300+ total candidates, for both years each. So, yes, your dreams of the full 45 points is not so unattainable after all, as long as you work hard for it. (Or aren’t unlucky)
So, what is Chinese B? I’d hate to bore you with the details, but I believe that understanding the syllabus will help in your Grade 7 endeavours (know thy enemy). The Chinese B syllabus (as do all the Language B subjects) consists of:
External Assessment (70%)
- Paper 1: 3-4 reading comprehension texts
- Paper 2: Writing task
- Internal Assessment (30%)
- Oral commentary
- Interactive oral activity
Paper 1 is very simply put, your typical 理解问答. However, a big difference between this and the O Level iteration is that it is almost, if not completely, purely comprehensive. This means that there is no more asking you for your opinion or what you think happened based on very little information (assuming you can read the words). Instead, you get straight up “what happened” or “what are the components of xxx” which can be lifted straight from the text. Not too shabby.
Paper 2 is another familiar friend, the 作文. Everything is the same as you would probably be acquainted with, of a slightly more forgiving standard. However, a big difference is that in Chinese B, you are limited to a maximum of 480 characters. That’s right, a MAX of 480 characters. That’s lots of time to plan, write legibly and double check your work (you have to count and list the number of characters used at the end of the essay, though), so it is incredibly easy to score in this section (as long as you know what you’re writing about).
Internal assessment is a little more interesting. First, you have the Oral Commentary, which is basically just 口试. Second, you have this thing called Interactive Oral Activity, which is what I would describe as an assessed skit done and evaluated as a group. So basically, you pick a group, a topic, make a script based on that and then act it out. You’re assessed based on the content, not your acting (don’t worry, this isn’t Theatre SL) so remember to get a group member who’s really good in Chinese 🙂
So, back to the main question, how much do you really need to worry about Chinese B? Well, for starters, the syllabus covers topics that can range from travel to food to traditional festivals, so it won’t always be those super boring news reports in综合填空. As for the standard, I would say that Secondary 2 or 3 level Chinese is good enough to get you by Chinese B. However, just as before, 俗语 and 成语 are useful to get you high marks (I probably used more成语in my Paper 2 than I ever did my whole life in exams).
In conclusion, while it may be easy to score for Chinese B, it is important that you do not become complacent. After all, it will be your last Chinese paper ever (!!!) so do put in your best effort to guarantee that Grade 7.
Brandon Lim is from the graduating class of 2014.