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SAT Ⅱ Chinese Test Introduction

The Chinese with Listening Subject Test is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge of written and spoken Mandarin. Whether you learned the language in a high school class or outside of school, this test can help you highlight your achievements and interest in the Chinese language.

Test Basics

Note: On test day, you must bring an acceptable CD player with earphones.



Changes to Language with Listening Tests

Language with Listening tests are offered in November. After 2020, tests are offered in May.

Upcoming administrations:

  • November 2019

  • November 2020 (U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands only)

  • May 2021

Getting Ready for the Test

Anticipated Skills

  • Ability to understand spoken Mandarin Chinese and identify what is being said in short, spoken dialogues and narratives about everyday topics.

  • Ability to complete sentences in a way that is appropriate in terms of structure (grammar), vocabulary, and context.

  • Identifying usage that is both structurally correct and contextually appropriate.

  • Understanding of such points as the main and supporting ideas, themes, and setting of a passage. Some of the passages are based on real-life materials such as timetables, forms, advertisements, notes, letters, diaries, and newspaper articles.


Recommended Preparation

  • 2–4 years of Mandarin Chinese language study in high school, or the equivalent

  • Gradual development of competence in the language over a period of years

  • Review of sample listening questions using a practice CD that your counselor can order from the College Board

Topics on the Test



















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  • The latest versions of the instructions, background questions, and answer sheet

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  • Two audio CDs for all six Language with Listening Tests


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Additional Things to Know

When should I take the Chinese with Listening test?

There are a few factors to consider as you decide when to take the test. You should have at least two years of strong preparation in the language, but the more the better.

It's recommended that you take the Chinese with Listening test as close to the end of the most advanced Chinese class that you plan to take, while still balancing college admission and placement requirements. You're likely not to do as well if you take the test after you haven't been in a Chinese class for several months.

  • For seniors studying Chinese: If Chinese is a strong subject for you, be sure it's one of the SAT Subject Tests you take in time for colleges to see your score. If you're only taking it for placement purposes, and not as part of your application, wait until you're as far along in your course as possible. If you want to take the Chinese with Listening test, check the test schedule to see when it's offered (and don't forget to bring a portable CD player with earphones).


Which Chinese is used on the Chinese with Listening test?

The language used on the test is taken from pieces written and dialogue spoken by those who use Mandarin Chinese in their everyday lives. Words or sayings specific to certain geographic areas will not be used in the test. If you’ve had at least two years of strong preparation in the language, then you should be able to understand the Chinese on the test.

I am familiar with Chinese but have not taken a class in school. Can I still take the Chinese with Listening test?

No matter how you acquired your knowledge of Chinese, it’s important to show colleges what you know. Bilingual (or multilingual) abilities are achievements that deserve to be highlighted. Your test will be scored the same way as that of someone who learned Chinese only in the classroom. If you’ve been exposed to a lot of spoken Chinese, then you should definitely consider taking the Chinese with Listening test.

If you will be using these results to fulfill a college admission requirement, you should be aware that different colleges have different policies regarding Subject Tests in foreign languages. You should check with the colleges you’re interested in about their policies and seek guidance from your counselor or teacher on your specific situation.

Please note that this test reflects what is commonly taught in high school. Due to differences in high school classes, it’s likely that most students will find questions on topics they’re not familiar with. This is nothing to worry about. You do not have to get every question correct to receive the highest score (800) for the test. Many students do well despite not having studied every topic covered.

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