Starting from 2015, the questions on the Chinese portion of the General Scholastic Ability Test (GSAT Chinese) will be based on the 2012 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines for Chinese. The General Scholastic Ability Test (GSAT) assesses basic academic skills and knowledge for higher education, serving as a criterion for universities to choose among prospective students. The GSAT Chinese focuses on basic knowledge of the Chinese language, literature, culture, and self-expression.
The questions on the GSAT Chinese are based on the 2012 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines and materials from the 10th and 11th grade required Chinese courses. The test evaluates basic Chinese ability and knowledge acquired in school and in life.
The GSAT Chinese tests students in four areas: (1) ability to understand and use the Chinese language; (2) knowledge of and ability to appreciate Chinese literature; (3) knowledge of and ability to comprehend Chinese culture; (4) acquisition of language skills and their applications. The criteria for each of the four areas are as follows:
A. Ability to understand and use the Chinese language
- A1. Recognition and use of Chinese characters
- A2. Recognition and use of Chinese pronunciations
- A3. Recognition and use of word meanings
- A4. Recognition and use of Chinese phrases and idioms
- A5. Recognition and use of Chinese syntax
- A6. Recognition and use of Chinese rhetorical devices
- A7. Recognition and use of Chinese grammaticity
- A8. Reading and understanding writing texts
B. knowledge of and ability to appreciate Chinese literature
- B1. Knowledge of important literary schools and movements
- B2. Knowledge of important literary genres
- B3. Knowledge of important literary figures and their achievements
- B4. Knowledge of important literary works
- B5. Ability to understand, and interpret important literary works
C. knowledge of and ability to comprehend Chinese culture
- C1. Understanding how literary thoughts were formed, their features and values, and their impact on culture
- C2. General knowledge of Chinese culture and classics
D. acquisition of language skills and their applications
- D1. Basic ability to communicate in Chinese
- D2. Ability to recognize, analyze, and integrate information in Chinese
- D3. Ability to express emotions and thoughts in Chinese
- D4. Ability to form rational arguments in Chinese
The questions on the GSAT Chinese are based on the 2012 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines and the materials from 10th and 11th grade required Chinese courses. Because the test evaluates basic Chinese skills and knowledge and assesses as the ability to understand information and apply it to real life situation or other school subjects, the guidelines-based GSAT Chinese not only encompasses the content of the required Chinese courses, but also tests the ability to understand textual information in real-life or learning situations. Guidelines on drafting the GSAT Chinese (also AST Chinese) are as follows:
1. Guidelines on drafting questions on classical Chinese and written vernacular Chinese
(1) Questions should be based on the 2012 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines and include all aspects of Chinese language, literature, and culture.
(2) Questions on classical Chinese should focus on the ability to understand the text, while questions on written vernacular Chinese should also test the ability to apply this knowledge.
(3) There should be a clear distinction between the levels of difficulty of GSAT Chinese and AST Chinese.
(1) Questions on the GSAT Chinese should be based on materials taught in 10th and 11th grade Chinese courses, while questions on the AST Chinese are based on knowledge and skills taught in 10th through 12th grade Chinese courses.
(2) The focus of the GSAT is on fundamental concepts, so the level of difficulty ranges from easy to moderate. The AST aims to evaluate advanced abilities required by university departments, so the level of difficulty ranges from moderate to challenging. There should be a clear distinction when drafting questions for these two tests in terms of level of difficulty.
(3) Levels of difficulty do not necessarily hinge on whether the questions are on classical or written vernacular Chinese. Factors such as which texts are chosen and how questions are asked also matter. How these factors are balanced is at the discretion of the item writers.
2. Guidelines on choosing texts not included in the textbooks
(1) High school students should also possess knowledge and skills included in the Grades 1-9 Curriculum Guidelines. Item writers may create questions based on the Grades 1-9 Curriculum Guidelines to expand the scope and depth of the test.
(2) When choosing texts that are not included in the textbooks, item writers should keep in mind that the materials should be pertinent to senior high school students’ knowledge and skills at the time of the GSAT or AST test.
(1) The Grades 1-9 Curriculum Guidelines provide a foundation for senior high school education. For coherence and continuity of learning, the GSAT and AST should also include materials that are covered in the Grades 1-9 Curriculum Guidelines, so the tests are more comprehensive and well-rounded.
(2) The GSAT and AST are aimed at a comprehensive evaluation of high school students’ knowledge and ability of Chinese language, literature and culture. Item writers should avoid questions that place too much emphasis on rote learning or trivial details from textbooks.
Focus of the Questions
- The questions focus on application of course content to real life.
- The questions focus on influence of traditional culture and thought, as well as their transformation and application in modern life.
- The questions focus on cross-disciplinary relations among humanities, social studies and natural science.
- The questions may cover materials not included in the required courses, with an aim to assessing if candidates can integrate and apply the knowledge and skills they’ve learned in school.
- All questions should include sufficient information and clues so students can answer the questions without having to memorize details in textbooks.
- The questions start with word or sentence error identification before moving on to sentence and text comprehension and analysis. Some may also test candidates’ ability to discern aesthetic value in words.
- The questions test the ability to communicate in precise, coherent, cohesive and meaningful Chinese, to showcase their ability to organize information and make decisions, to express emotions, and to make rational interpretations and arguments.
 The current Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines, published on July 14, 2011 and launched in School Year 2011, was revised from the Temporary Curriculum Guidelines for Senior High School introduced in School Year 2006 (aka the 2006 Temporary Guidelines).