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New College English Tests draw complaints

Updated: 2013-12-16 02:36
By Zhao Xinying ( China Daily)

Changes in the new national College English Test level 4 and level 6 held on Saturday for the first time have prompted complaints about the listening and translating sections.

In an online survey initiated by Sina Weibo, a Chinese micro blog platform, 23.1 percent out of 3,835 test-takers said they didn't finish the listening comprehension section and 17.4 percent said they handed in a blank answer sheet for listening.

"Time for listening comprehension was extremely limited, and we had to hand in our answer sheets immediately after the record ended," said Liu Junqiang, a freshman at Beijing Institute of Technology.

"As a result, many students didn't complete the answer sheet for this section," said Liu, who was taking the level 4 test.

The national College English Test committee announced in August that several modifications would be made to the biannual tests, which began in the 1980s to test the English proficiency of undergraduates nationwide.

The changes included reducing the test time for listening section from 35 to 30 minutes.

"Unlike previously, this test didn't leave time to fill out the answer sheet, which threw us into confusion because we didn't expect it," Liu said.

Other changes in the test, such as translating, also brought complaints from test-takers after Saturday's exams.

According to the reform announcement released by the College English Tests Committee, test-takers would have 30 minutes to translate into English a passage with 140 to 200 Chinese characters (instead of the five simple sentences previously), and the texts would deal mainly with China-related topics, such as Chinese history, culture, the economy and social development.

As of 5 pm on Sunday, 50.4 percent of 17,461 Sina survey participants said "the test is really difficult".

Hu Yonghua, an English language teacher with Capital Normal University in Beijing, said the change in the translation section indicated there is an increasing emphasis on English as a tool for communication and cultural exchange.

"To adapt to the changes and solve the problems in the test, students should increase their efforts in learning English," she said.

Many test-takers, however, were thrown off by the wording.

"For some Chinese expressions like yuan lin (meaning landscape gardens) and si chou zhi lu (the Silk Road), I can't find the exact English word or phrase because I seldom come across them or use them in my daily study," said Li Xiaolan, a junior majoring in English-language teaching at Baoji University of Arts and Sciences, Shaanxi province.

"But it reminded me that I should improve my vocabulary," she said.

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