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Advanced Subjects Test (AST)



English



In the 2010 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines, a new goal for high school English courses was added, asking students “to acquire the skills of logical reasoning, critical thinking, and creativity” at the same time they are learning English. Furthermore, based on the principle of adaptive learning, a clear distinction should be drawn between the levels of difficulty of the AST English and GSAT English, with AST English being the more difficult one.  Therefore, the questions on the AST English and GSAT English involve different levels of item difficulty so the tests can help distinguish various levels of English proficiency.

Objectives

1. To evaluate ability to understand and use high school level content words and their collocations

2. To evaluate ability to understand English words, phrases (including content words, function words, fixed expressions, and transitional words), sentences and paragraphs using context clues

3. To evaluate ability to understand content words (and fixed expressions), and transitional words using context clues

4. To evaluate ability to understand and organize sentences into paragraphs

5. To evaluate ability to understand paragraphs using their knowledge of English vocabulary, fixed expressions, syntax, and pragmatics, along with analytical skills and deductive reasoning

6. To evaluate ability to write English sentences which are correct in form and coherent in meaning

7. To evaluate ability to construct a coherent short essay based on a given prompt (e.g. a topic sentence or a set of pictures), using appropriate vocabulary and sentence structures

8. To evaluate higher-order skills such as logical reasoning, critical thinking, and creativity

Scope

All questions are based on the 2010 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines and the materials used in 10th to 12th grade required English courses.

 

Content

The AST English evaluates students’ knowledge of English vocabulary and their ability to read paragraphs, write and translate sentences, and to construct short paragraphs. There are multiple-choice questions and constructive response questions, and each include several types of questions. Among the multiple-choice questions, the Vocabulary section is designed with separate questions that evaluate students’ ability to use English words; the sections for Rational Cloze, Banked Cloze, Sentence Gap Fill, and Reading Comprehension each goes with paragraphs of 200 to 300 words to test whether students can understand their meaning and answer the corresponding questions. The paragraphs chosen draw on students’ life and learning experience. They cover a wide range of topics, including abstract or advanced areas, and are written in various genres (e.g. narrative or argumentative). They may come from newspapers, magazines, books and other sources. Students planning to take the test should read articles in different genres in order to improve their reading ability.

The constructive response portion of the test consists of two parts: Translation and Writing. The translations section aims to evaluate students’ ability to use advanced English words and to construct complicated sentences (compound, complex, and compound-complex sentence). Students are asked to translate sentences and paragraphs from Chinese to English, and to fill in the blanks in English sentences or paragraphs based on the Chinese given paragraphs. The writing section requires students to write short paragraphs based on a designated topic or topic sentence closely related to students’ school and home life in order to evaluate their ability to write descriptive, expository, and narrative paragraphs in English.

The AST English requires more than a 7,000-word vocabulary (see level 1-6 of the Senior High School English Word-list provided by the College Entrance Examination Center, CEEC). Words in the 4,500-to-7,000-word range can also appear on the test (see level 1-6 of the senior high school English word-list provided by the CEEC).[1]

Question Types

The AST English consists of reading and writing sections in the form of multiple-choice questions and constructive response questions. Listed below are possible questions types.

Sections One: Multiple-Choice Questions

1. Vocabulary

This part evaluates students’ understanding of and ability to use high school level content words and their collocations.

2. Rational Cloze

This part evaluates students’ ability to understand English words, phrases (including content words, function words, expressions, and transitional words, etc.), sentences and paragraphs using context clues.

3. Banked Cloze

This part evaluates students’ ability to understand content words (and expressions) and transitional words using context clues.

4. Sentence Gap Fill

This part evaluates students’ ability to understand and organize paragraph structure.

5. Reading Comprehension

This part evaluates students’ ability to understand paragraphs using their knowledge of English vocabulary, expressions, syntax, and pragmatics as well as their analytical skills and deductive reasoning.

Section Two: Essay Questions

1. Translation (from Chinese to English): Possible questions types here include single-sentence translation, sentence-gap translation, and paragraph translation.

(1) Single-sentence translation

This part evaluates students’ ability to turn Chinese sentences into correct, coherent, and sensible English sentences.

(2) Sentence-gap translation

This part evaluates students’ ability to translate sentences from Chinese to English using context clues in the paragraphs.

   (3) Paragraph translation

This part evaluates students’ ability to translate Chinese paragraphs into English paragraphs that are correct and coherent.

2. Guided Writing: Students could be asked to write about a certain topic or using a certain topic sentence.

This part evaluates students’ ability to construct a coherent short essay using a prompt or a topic sentence to showcase the vocabulary and syntax they’ve learned in high school.



[1] http://www.ceec.edu.tw/Research/paper_doc/ce37/ce37.htm