AP Prep

Published February 16, 2024

Everything You Need to get a 5 on AP Chinese Language and Culture

NP

Natasha Potter

MSU Alumni, Creative Advertising Major, Marketing Associate at Knowt 😃

Hey there! This article is all about our tips for how to study for the AP Chinese Language and Culture exam to get a solid 5. I'll break down the tricks, so with the right strategies and resources, nailing the exam is totally doable!

Free AP Chinese Language and Culture Resources

Hey, no worries if you're in a last-minute cramming session for AP Chinese Language! We totally get it, and trust me, we've all been there too! So, if you're wondering how to ace the AP Chinese Language exam when you're running out of time, here are some awesome resources and AP Chinese exam tips created by fellow students that will help you cram like a boss.

What Do I Need to Memorize for the AP Chinese Language and Culture Exam?

The exam is broken down into Four sections - here is a breakdown of what you’ll need to know and what to expect from each section:

Section IA: Multiple Choice Listening

Alright, let's break down the Multiple Choice – Listening part. The deal is to pick the answer that keeps the convo going in a smart and culture-savvy way. You get a quick 5 seconds to decide, and there's no going back once you've made your call.

What's in store? You'll hear snippets, like 20-30 seconds each, spoken at a chill pace in a peaceful background setting. They're all about everyday stuff like hanging out with a friend, chatting with parents, making new pals, or talking to a teacher.

Here's the trick: You only get one shot to listen to each bit, and the clock's ticking with just 5 seconds for each question. Volume too loud or too soft? No problem, hit that volume button on the top right. Once the clock hits zero, boom, onto the next task – no turning back.

Now, how to boss this section? Keep your ears peeled and eyes on the screen. Listen carefully, read the options, and pick what feels right. No penalty for guessing, so don't leave any question hanging. It's just like your regular chats with teachers, friends, or folks. Easy does it!

Section IB: Multiple Choice Reading

Time to tackle the listening part where you'll hear some stuff in Chinese. The lowdown: they'll tell you if they're playing it once or twice. You can jot down notes, but don't stress – they're not checking your notes. After each listen, English questions pop up, and you've got a snappy 12 seconds to pick your answer.

Taking notes is your secret weapon here. Numbers, time, dates, keywords, and the main vibes – scribble those down.

What's in store? Some snippets get a double play, while others are one and done. It depends on how long they yak. Topics? Anything from a voice message to a school chat.Here's the game plan: They're testing if you can understand, infer, and drop some basic cultural knowledge. Once you're done with a question, no going back, so don't skip any. And guess what? No slaps on the wrist for wrong answers, so take a shot if you're not sure. Easy peasy!

Section IIA: Free Response Written

Time to dive into the reading section. Here's the deal: you're reading some stuff in Chinese, and then English questions pop up. Your job? Pick the best answer based on what you read.What's in store? You'll face multiple choice questions after checking out different texts. It could be anything – a sign, poster, email, note, letter, ad, brochure, or article. The last one usually throws a curveball, like a celeb's bio or some brainy article from a Chinese newspaper.

How to rule this part? Read the questions, pick what feels right, and don't let the tricky ones mess with your head. If something's giving you a hard time, skip it and swing back later. And hey, no leaving questions hanging – take a guess if you need to. Keep it breezy!

Section IIB: Free Response Spoken

Time to tackle the email game. Here's the scoop: read a friend's email and then type up your response in 15 minutes. Easy, right?

What's coming your way? Friends need your thoughts – maybe on college apps, job interviews, sports picks, travel tips, or what to do on breaks. Stuff that's all about your daily life.

How to ace it? The College Board likes answers that cover everything, are well-organized, and flow smoothly. Use the right lingo for the situation, toss in some smart words, and keep those grammar hiccups to a minimum.

Tips from the pros? Nail the task first. Make sure you're hitting all the email questions. And don't forget, reread the prompt while you're typing to be sure you're covering it all.

2018 graders spilled the tea, and most folks nailed the skills needed. But watch out for common slip-ups, like missing a question from the email. Stay sharp, read carefully, and you'll crush it!

AP Chinese Language and Culture Exam Format

Section IA: Multiple Choice Listening

This part has 25–35 questions, takes 20 minutes, and makes up 25% of your exam score. Here's what you'll be dealing with:

  1. Continuing Conversations: Pick the right way a conversation could go.

  2.  Answering Questions: Respond to things like transportation announcements, voice messages, school talks, radio reports, instructions, and random dialogues.

You'll need to:

  • Figure out the main ideas and details in what you hear.

  • Get the meaning of different words, even if they're new to you.

  • Understand a text's meaning based on culture or other topics.

  • Guess what's implied by looking at the context.

Section IB: Multiple Choice Reading

This part has 30–40 questions, takes 60 minutes, and counts for 25% of your exam score. Here's what it involves:

  1. Reading Stuff: You'll deal with different written things like notes, emails, pen pal letters, posters, and short stories.

What You Need to Do: 

  •  Find the main ideas and details in what you read.

  •  Figure out word meanings and guess what unfamiliar words might mean.

  •  Understand a text's meaning based on culture or other topics.

  •  Get what's implied by looking at the context.

Section IIA: Free Response Written

This part has 2 tasks, takes 30 minutes, and makes up 25% of your exam score. Here's what you'll be doing:

  1. Tell a Story (Presentational Writing): Look at some pictures and then tell a story about them in 15 minutes.

  2. Email Response (Interpersonal Story): Read an email and write back about it in 15 minutes.

Section IIB: Free Response Spoken

This part has 2 tasks, takes 10 minutes, and counts for 25% of your exam score. Here's what you'll be up to:

  1. Chatting Away (Interpersonal Speaking): Answer a bunch of related questions like you're having a chat (4 minutes).

  2. Culture Talk (Presentational Speaking): Pick a Chinese cultural thing, talk about it, and explain why it's important (1 topic, 7 minutes total; 4 minutes to get ready, 2 minutes to talk).

How should I study for the AP Chinese Language and Culture Exam?

Now that you've got the lowdown on what the AP Chinese exam covers and some AP Chinese exams tips for each question type, how do you get ready?

  1. Hit up the High School AP Chinese Course Thousands of high schools in North America offer this course, tailor-made to sources that show you how to prepare for the AP Chinese Language and Culture test.

  2. Practice, Practice, Practice:This exam isn't just about Chinese skills; it's also about understanding the test itself. Treat it like prepping for the SAT – take on sample exams (find plenty on the College Board website) and grab extra practice materials from Knowt.

  3. Tech Check and Time Trials: It's not just about knowing your Chinese; it's about typing it up in 15 minutes. Get comfy with the tech and timing – practice like it's the real deal so you're cool and collected on exam day.

  4. Team Up with PandaTree Tutors: Dive into one-on-one tutoring with AP-experienced teachers at PandaTree. Before the lesson, tackle a practice test section – the tutor will give it a look-over. During the session, get feedback and coaching. This personalized tutoring zeroes in on where you can level up, giving your progress a boost. Ready to rock that AP Chinese exam

When do AP Chinese Language and Culture scores come out?

Scores will typically come out in July every year, but you can also refer to the official CollegeBoard Annual calendar to monitor any chances.

Is AP Chinese Language and Culture Hard? (Previous Scores)

Every year, the AP College Board drops stats on how students did in the AP Chinese exam. They split it into two groups: the total gang and the standard crew. The total group includes everyone who took the test, but the standard group kicks out those who chat or grew up with Chinese or lived in a Chinese-speaking country for a month or more. If your student isn't immersed in Chinese at home, the standard group is where it's at.

Now, the Board's data spill the beans that in 2018, 66% of all AP Chinese exam-takers nailed a perfect 5. But when you zoom into the standard gang, only 20% pulled off the same feat. And get this, the 5 scores in the standard group dropped by 8 points since 2012, even though there are almost double the students taking the test. This is why it is crucial to remember your AP Chinese Exam tips!!

They also throw numbers about how students handle the Free Response Question in Section II. Forget about the Multiple Choice questions in Section I – no data there. Most questions get a 6 score, but the Interpersonal Speaking one is out of 36. If you turn all these scores into percentages, it's a wild ride.

Oh, and surprise, surprise – those standard group students who aren't soaking in Chinese 24/7 score lower than the whole gang. Keep that in mind!

Explaining the AP Chinese Language and Culture Exam Scores

The AP Chinese exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning "no recommendation" and 5 indicating "extremely well qualified" – the top score achievable. Trained graders, known as "readers," are employed by the College Board to ensure consistent and fair evaluation. These readers, chosen from high school AP teachers and college instructors, gather during "AP Reading Week" in June to grade all AP exams. This process helps maintain uniformity in grading standards across different exam versions and ensures that students are fairly assessed.

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