Chinese Placement Exams

Online Placement Exam

The online exam is designed for use in the summer and winter break when instructors are not available. It cannot be taken for credit transfer or proficiency certification purposes. For the certification exam or all other exam needs, please consult with Professor Liana Chen , director of Chinese language program.

Because there are fewer testing items (i.e., the oral and hand-writing components are not given), the online placement results or recommendations are only tentative. Students are advised to double check with the course instructor(s) to make sure they are placed right in the first week of classes.  Follow the chart below to contact the instructors for course consultation or a quick language proficiency level check.

Online exam schedule

Coordinator: TBA
Summer: June 1 - August 25
Winter: December 26 - January 10

Access the current online exam on Quia.


The Certification Exam

Take this exam if one of the situations applies to you:

  1. You are returning from an overseas Chinese program and wish to receive credit for a higher course than the one automatically transferred (e.g. 4107 instead of 3105)
  2. You are seeking exemption from the foreign language requirement.
  3. You are seeking exemption/waiver from a required course.
  4. You are seeking certification for a certain proficiency level.

In terms of scheduling, the date of your exam will depend on which of the above four cases apply to you:

  • For Case 1: Thursday of the first week of classes, 7:00-8:30pm, Rome 470
  • For Cases 2-4: Either the above time, or take the final exam together with the target course/level.

Sign up with Prof. Phyllis Zhang in order to schedule.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to take the placement exam?

You do not need to take the placement exam if one of the following applies:

  • You have little or no Chinese experience and would like to take the beginning level Chinese course, CHIN1001.
  • You have finished an overseas program for Chinese and would like to continue studying Chinese at the next level pre-approved by the GW Chinese Program or by the Study Abroad Office.
  • You are a Chinese native speaker and have attended a Chinese high school or college previously. You need an exemption from the foreign language requirement instead.  

Who is required to take the placement exam?

You are required to take the placement exam if one of the following applies:

  • You have suspended your study of Chinese for one or more semesters and wish to take a Chinese language course.
  • You are an incoming/transfer student. You have had Chinese experience previously in a high school or elsewhere and wish to continue studying Chinese.
  • You are from a Chinese family background and are able to speak some Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, or another dialect) and may or may not be able to read and write in Chinese, and wish to take a Chinese language course.
  • You need to take a Chinese language course and are unsure which level is suitable.

What is the format of the placement exam?

Normally the exam consists of the following:

  • Online exam: A written test with items for vocabulary, grammar/structures, reading, and writing. No dictionaries or online resources are allowed. There is also a questionnaire about student Chinese language background experience.
  • In person interviews: A 10-15 minute oral interview, during which you will be asked to read aloud a passage in Chinese and answer questions based on the passage. In addition, you will have a conversation with the interviewer. Please bring your most recent written work (tests and essays) as well as your last textbook. If you don't have any written sample, the instructor will ask you to write a short piece during the interview.

Is the exam in simplified or traditional Chinese?

Both forms are available, so you can choose the one you are comfortable with.

How should I prepare for the exam?

We recommend that you thoroughly review what you have learned so far, perhaps in a backwards order (i.e. start from the most recent). Here are some suggestions to make your review productive:

  • Reading: Test yourself on reading passages or main text in the lessons without looking at the glossary or translations. You may also find a different textbook of the same level and read the text to check your comprehension.
  • Character writing: Write out the characters from a pinyin passage or copy the text from your most recent textbook. When you do the sentence copying or writing, try to say the entire sentence aloud twice and then write out as much as you can. You can skip the characters you can't reproduce and get back to it when you finish the sentence. Do not copy word for word or stop to look at the text.
  • Essay writing: Try to keep a journal for free writing practice. To make your writing productive, focus on a topic each time based on the lessons in your textbook, so that you can review the vocabulary and structures.
  • Oral interview: When practicing reading, try to answer questions accordingly. For the conversation component, you can use your journal entries for practice purposes, if you don't have a Chinese speaker to chat with.