Scoring well for O Level Chinese

March 15, 2013

You can say that after Science, Chinese is my most hated subject. I cannot understand nor read Chinese and my spoken Chinese is just as horrible. It takes a lot of effort for me to even speak in Chinese, much less proper Chinese. Friends who know me personally would know that I am terrible at this language.

During Chinese examinations, I am almost always asleep because I can't freaking read the script, except for the name, class, date part. Oral is just as difficult for me, especially the reading aloud part. I can't read, so I'll usually only get 2/10 for that portion, which is probably just sympathy marks LOL. The picture discussion and conversation parts don't go too well for me either since I can't express myself in Chinese. You would think that the listening comprehension will at least help me but no. I have short attention span so I can't focus during the examination and I usually miss out the key points.

Below is proof of my horrible Chinese (and everything else actually LOL) results from my Secondary 3 year:

 Sec 3 Mid-Year Examinations results.

Sec 3 End-of-Year Examinations results.

During the Adam Khoo study camp, I realised that I have wasted enough time, and started freaking out because I realised how close to O Level I was. It was then that I decided to turn my life around and started studying.

 Sec 4 Mid-Year Examinations results.

 AND FINALLY... My O Level results.
(Frankly speaking, I am still disappointed with my results and I still think that I could have done A LOT better, but that's another story for another day.)

In just a year, I bounced from a F9 to a B3 for Chinese O Level. I scored a fucking B3.
How did I manage to do that?

Disclaimer: the objective of this blog post was never to boast. I'm doing this post as I received many questions about how did I score B3 even though my Chinese is... Disastrous. I'm no teacher, I'm just a student sharing what I've learnt and what I've done. If you want opinion from someone with better Chinese and years of experience, you should definitely speak to your Chinese teacher.

For those who are lazy to read the rest of the post, the magic trick is actually to memorise. Memorise every single shit given to you. Then again, if you're lazy to even read this post, you're probably not hardworking enough to go through the whole struggle. ಠ_ಠ There's no shortcut to success.

Oral, reading/picture discussion/conversation:
Again, the reading part is based on your skills and there is nothing much you can do to improve except maybe read the dictionary O.O But even if you do not know the words, just act like you do!!! Just make up some words and maybe they will give you some marks for your fluency and tone.

Picture discussions and conversations are made easier when you remember PIGS. Parents, Individual, Government, Society. Whenever you mention something, think of what the PIGS (it sounds funny LOL) would do/think. Does the kids' parents disapprove of their behavior? Will you, yourself, do such a thing? What can the government do to prevent such a situation from happening again? Would the society look down on a certain group of people?

Ask yourself questions, and answer them! If a tricky question is thrown to you and you need more time to think, have the teachers repeat their question so that you can use the time to think! Or you can just tell them politely that you need some time to ponder over the question. Your answer should be as politically correct as possible because after all, this is not a debate, but an examination with teachers who are probably more conservative.

Oh, and give lots of opinions!!! Many forget about giving opinions in picture discussions after stating what they see in the picture. Try to not miss out any detail in the picture, even the most minute ones. I'm pretty sure there's another acronym for the conversation but I can't remember now and I think it's similar to PIGS.

Listening comprehension:
Just try to focus and understand the passage even though you may not understand anything wtf. And please remember a 2B pencil and eraser!!! I freaked out pretty badly before the examination because I didn't bring any pencils or eraser -___- Believe me, you do not want to freak out just before an examination.
Paper one, situational writing/composition:
For situational writing, I had a template and I basically memorised everything. So during the examination, I just change the words here and there to fit the situation. Yeah, it sounds like I'm cheating hahahaha but whatever, IT WORKS OKAY! Writing has always been something I enjoy and something that comes naturally to me, but writing in Chinese... HAHAHAHA, not so. Since I'm unable to express myself in proper Chinese, I memorised all the good phrases (好词好句) that my teacher gave me. I also have a standard starting and ending paragraph to aid me.

Initially, I was doubtful that those methods would work but desperate times call for desperate measures right? Besides, I was already failing Chinese, there's nothing more I can lose. I am so so so grateful that despite being lousy at this language, I have good imagination (at least I'd like to think so - don't burst my bubble!!!) so I still score pretty well when it comes to content, which helps me a lot. By the way, ALWAYS choose the narrative writing if your Chinese is as weak as mine. I wouldn't recommend doing the bao zhang bao dao, especially if you have no idea what the question is asking for.

Paper two, comprehension:
Okay, the first part of paper two is actually the choosing of some words that look/sound the same to form a story. I'm sorry, but there's absolutely no cheat method (that I know of) for this. I usually just choose the words that look the most complicated HAHAHA. Since I cannot read the Chinese words, what I'd do is read the questions, look at what the question is asking for, find the familiar words in the passage, and

1) for multiple choice question, look at the words around it and try to find the same words in the answers. That's usually the correct choice.

2) for open-ended questions, copy down the whole paragraph, in which the familiar words are found, onto my answer sheet. Yes, it is tedious, but it is still better than leaving any blanks in your paper, right?

Opinionated questions are more complex because there is no standard answer but here's a tip: as long as you answer yes/no, with a simple explanation (anything will do!!!), you get some marks.

Positivity (as mentioned in this post) helps a lot too. Before the results, my Chinese teacher asked me what's my desired results for Chinese and I answered B3. He then replied that I have to prepare to re-take the exam and work very hard. But I stayed positive and believed in myself. I remember on the results day, my teachers were beaming at me and I cried tears of joy while telling my mom my results.

I was so overwhelmed, and my friends were so happy for me. It was a great feeling. I hope this is the kind of feeling you guys reading this post will get :) Of course, without my patient Chinese teachers, Mai Laoshi, Zhang Laoshi and Su Laoshi, I would have never gotten to where I am today. If not for them, I couldn't have possibly passed Chinese. So thankful for all of them.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask me anything here!
Have a nice day ahead, everyone!

P.S.: While writing this post, I forgot some of the components in the Chinese exam paper so I visited the MOE's website and they led me to a file, which I supposed would help BUT WRITTEN IN CHINESE. It didn't help at all in the end HAHAHA.

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