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Please, please tell us when our exams are!

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I remember when, last term, we’d asked the teacher of our newspaper reading class when the exam actually was, seeing as all we knew was that they were to take place the following week. He replied with a date, and hesitantly – a location, but in our next lesson, apologised for having told us the wrong day. And the wrong building, of course. Without sounding too harsh, HOW DOES THE TEACHER NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT DAY THE EXAM – which is in less than a week, did I mention? – IS ON?!?!!?

This is not only the case for exams, we’re also in the dark about term dates… BNU, please remember, us international students need to do things like booking tickets, IN ADVANCE.

This term, we were told that our mid-term exams would be taking place on the 18th and 19th of April. Until the middle of last week, we were still clueless about which exams would be on which day, the timings, the locations, the content… We asked each of our teachers last week, one replied that she’d tell us all at the end of the lesson (which never happened, because, well… it was the end of the lesson!), the other said that the exam timetable was not out yet(?!) but that as soon as it was, he would be able to tell us, and the third said “oh I’ll tell you guys next lesson”.
That next lesson was last Friday, and what we discovered was that the oral exam would not be testing our speaking ability as such, but rather how quickly and accurately we can memorise the textbook. We are to be asked questions, to which the answers literally require us to regurgitate the whole text. Maybe I had it wrong, but I always thought the speaking exam was to test us on our actual ability to speak Chinese, to hold a conversation, to think on our feet… But complete and total memorisation? Not only does this take time, (something we are not afforded, especially when it comes to exam preparation), but…. I’ll be blunt – it’s not so easy to blag 😀 If you haven’t memorised the textbook, you’re going to fail, it’s as simple as that. For some reason, I don’t think this really reflects how well (or not, as the case may be) I can speak Chinese.

The teacher for our reading/writing class looked a bit surprised when we asked her about the exam content and style.
“Oh, you want me to tell you now… I was going to tell you next week, but I guess if I do it next week, it might be a bit late…?”
Really? You think?

You know something’s wrong when you’re missing the SOAS system!!
The exam timetable for the May/June exams was published three weeks ago?! What?

Well, now that I’ve finished ranting, I better study for this exam tomorrow…


About Ibtehaal

I graduated with a degree in Chinese and Economics, which involved spending a year studying Chinese in Beijing. This turned out to be the hardest but most rewarding thing I think I have ever done. I've now returned to China for another year, to study in Shanghai and figure out my next steps.

4 responses »

  1. All the best for the forthcoming/anytime soon untimetabled exams!

  2. Argh that’s really annoying. Knowing your exam date isn’t just important so that you know where to go and when, it helps you mentally prepare and plan your time.

    Also the memory test is a bizarre way to test your language skills…Best of luck with it all!

    • Thank you! And yep, it’s all about the mental preparation and time-planning thing really. If the teachers barely even know when and where our exams are, how do they expect me to realise how soon it is? 😀 I need the pressure!
      Also, this is China – memorisation is all they know how to test, haha.


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