Summer’s officially arrived and what am I doing everyday?! Studying for the HSK level 5 Chinese test. And not just studying but studying my ass off. I’ve never studied for something like this, and frankly it’s pissing me off.
I’m not the most academically gifted student, never have been. I’ve always seen exams more as a test of my current knowledge than something to actually prepare for. I would always ask if I could write a paper or make a video rather than take a test, and when I can’t avoid a test, like the SAT’s I usually bomb them. I’m just not a test person.
So why did I, several months ago, think taking a standard language test would be fun?! “It’s a good goal,” I thought. “It will improve your chinese,” I said to myself.
Well now I’m in the thick of it. Studying everyday, with thousands of vocab words to review and grammar patterns to learn. I hired a teacher (one of the real chinese teachers at my school, not just a friend or student) and am meeting him 2 times a week. He gives me a ton of homework and then I give myself more. I’m doing different sections of practice tests everyday.
And I am seeing a little improvement. For instance in the reading section I’m pretty much kicking ass. In yesterdays practice test I got 9 out of 10 questions right. And I didn’t even understand the meaning of some of the paragraphs I read, it’s just that I can work out the answer easily.
But this post is called Fuck you Chinese, so you might have guessed not all is happy in the land of learning. Reading is only one of three parts. The biggest devil part is writing. The test has 8 questions, 8 measly questions in which there is a scrambled sentence and you have to put it in order.
This is my achilles heel and is killing me. I can never get the fucking sentence right. Level 5 has intentionally difficult sentences, with tricky grammar patterns, but even when there is an easy one I bomb it. It’s like I just think differently.
For instance one of the sentences had the words: Glass, cut/cut, the people by the door, and a chinese character that makes the sentence passive. Just like English when writing a passive sentence in Chinese you change the word order. Like, “the dog was fed by me,” instead of “I fed the dog.”
So I wrote, “the glass was cut/scratched by the people at the door.” But when I checked the answer key it said I was wrong and I was super pissed because I knew, I knew, I was right. So I immediately asked my teacher why it was wrong. He laughed and said that according to my meaning, the grammar was right. But actually the real meaning was “the people by the door were cut by the glass.”
See?! Now that’s why I hate standardized tests. They don’t allow for any free thinking. And for whatever reason my thought patterns don’t line up with the masses.
Another time I was sitting on my bed writing the answers. There was an especially long sentence and I wrote out an answer. Then I laid down my head and fell asleep for awhile. When I woke up I figured I was too tired before and re-wrote the sentence. Turns out my first answer was right and I made it wrong. Not even dumb luck is on my side with this one.
My teachers really nice and encouraging, helping me understand the grammar and sentence structure. He keeps saying “you’re so close!” because I tend to only mix up one or two characters, but it’s fucking annoying nonetheless.
I’ve sunk a lot of money into this test, about $100 to take the test and twice weekly private tutoring for almost 2 months adds up quick. Ultimately I know that even if I fail it’s worth it. I think it’s worth it already just based on the vocab and grammar I’ve learned (For instance before I didn’t in any way or shape understand how to write a passive sentence. Now I do even if I have my own meanings.) and I still have 4 weeks to keep learning.
But I don’t wanna fail. I’ve spent so much time and effort I really want to pass goddamnit! It’s a little stupid considering this test will do nothing for my career or daily life, but I wanna, I wanna, I wanna!
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