Starting from 2015, the questions in the Chinese portion of the Advanced Subjects Test (AST Chinese) will be based on the 2012 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines for Chinese. As AST scores are an important criterion for schools to select students through the Examination and Placement Program, the AST tests aim to evaluate if prospective students meet the admissions standards of a certain school or department. Therefore, AST Chinese focuses on testing students’ advanced knowledge of the Chinese language, Chinese literature, Chinese culture, and students’ ability to express themselves in Chinese.
The questions on the AST Chinese are based on the 2012 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines, and the materials students study in their 10th through 12th grade required Chinese courses. The test aims to evaluate students’ advanced Chinese ability from knowledge acquired in school and in life.
The AST 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, appreciate 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. Advanced ability to communicate in Chinese
- D2. Advanced ability to recognize, analyze, and integrate information in Chinese
- D3. Advanced ability to express emotions and thoughts in Chinese
- D4. Advanced ability to form rational arguments in Chinese
The questions on AST Chinese are based on the 2012 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines and the materials students studied in their 10th through 12th grade required Chinese courses. Because the test aims to evaluate students’ advanced Chinese ability and knowledge and to assess their understanding of Chinese literature, the guidelines-based AST Chinese not only encompasses the content of the required Chinese courses, but also tests students’ ability to understand and appreciate literary works that are not included in their textbooks. Guidelines on drafting the AST Chinese (also GSAT 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 students’ ability to understand the text, while questions on written vernacular Chinese should also test students’ ability to apply their knowledge.
- (3) There should be a clear distinction between the levels of difficulty of the AST Chinese and the GSAT Chinese.
- (1) Questions on the GSAT Chinese should be based on materials that are taught in 10th and 11th grade Chinese courses, while questions on the AST Chinese are based on knowledge and skills that are taught in 10th through 12th grade Chinese courses.
- (2) The focus of the GSAT is on fundamental concepts with levels of difficulty ranging from easy to moderate. The AST evaluates advanced skills required by university departments, so the levels of difficulty range from moderate to challenging. There must be a clear distinction when drafting questions for these two tests in terms of level of difficulty.
- (3) Levels of difficulty don’t 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 have a command of the knowledge and skills included in the Grades 1-9 Curriculum Guidelines. Item writers may construct items that are 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. Therefore, to maintain coherence and continuity of learning, the GSAT and AST should also include materials covered in the Grades 1-9 Curriculum Guidelines so the tests are more comprehensive and well-rounded.
- (2) The GSAT and AST are designed for a comprehensive evaluation of students’ competence in Chinese language, literature and culture. Item writers should avoid questions that place too much emphasis on rote learning or trivial details in textbooks.
Focus of the Questions
- To test ability to understand, analyze, and integrate information in Chinese.
- To test ability to understand literary works in Chinese, including main ideas, literary devices, the meaning behind the works, and other literary knowledge.
- To test knowledge of Chinese culture and important thoughts in history as well as their influence on ancient and modern societies, cultures, and disciplines.
- To test ability to come up with an idea and express it in coherent paragraphs using precise and fluent Chinese that demonstrates imagination, correct use of literary techniques, and critical thinking.
- All questions should include sufficient information and clues so students can answer the questions without having to memorize small details in the textbooks.
 The current Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines, promulgated on July 14, 2011 and enacted in School Year 2011, were revised from the Temporary Curriculum Guidelines for Senior High School introduced in School Year 2006 (aka the 2006 Temporary Guideline).