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GCSE Mandarin Chinese Test Structures



Test Structures Overview

There are different exam boards that offer Mandarin GCSE tests, and the types of tests they offer may vary slightly. However, in general, there are two types of Mandarin GCSE tests:

  1. Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) GCSE (Foundation Tier): This type of GCSE is designed for non-native speakers of Mandarin Chinese. It assesses the student's ability to understand and communicate in Mandarin Chinese, as well as their knowledge of Chinese culture and society.

  2. Chinese as a Second Language (CSL) GCSE (Higher Tier): This type of GCSE is designed for students who have a native or near-native proficiency in Mandarin Chinese. It assesses the student's ability to use the language in a variety of situations, and to understand and analyze different types of texts.

Within each type of GCSE, there may be variations in the exam structure and content, depending on the exam board. For example, some exam boards may include more cultural or historical content, while others may focus more on contemporary issues and current events. It's important to check the specific requirements of the exam board you are studying with in order to prepare effectively for the test.


GCSE mandarin chinese tutors Edexcel GCSE Chinese Test Structure













Pearson Edexcel GCSE Chinese Test Structure

Content and assessment overview


The Pearson Edexcel Level 1/Level 2 GCSE (9–1) in Chinese (spoken Mandarin/spoken Cantonese) consists of four externally examined papers based on the following skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students must complete their speaking assessment in April/May and all other assessments in May/June in any single year. Each paper is available at Foundation tier or Higher tier. Students must be entered for a single tier across all papers. The use of dictionaries is not permitted. For Paper 2 this includes during the preparation time.


Paper 1: Listening and understanding in Chinese


Foundation tier: 35 minutes, including 5 minutes’ reading time; 50 marks

Higher tier: 45 minutes, including 5 minutes’ reading time; 50 marks

25% of the total qualification


Assessment overview

Students are assessed on their understanding of standard spoken Chinese by one or more speakers in a range of public and social settings. Students will respond to multiple-response and short-answer open-response questions based on a recording featuring male and female Chinese speakers. Students must answer all questions in both sections. There is no requirement for students to produce written responses in Chinese.


Foundation tier: All questions are set in English. The instructions to students are in English.

Higher tier: All questions are set in English. The instructions to students are in English. The listening audio files are available on our website. Recordings of spoken Chinese will be available in Mandarin and Cantonese.



Paper 2: Speaking in Chinese


Foundation tier: 7–9 minutes plus 12 minutes’ preparation time; 70 marks

Higher tier: 10–12 minutes plus 12 minutes’ preparation time; 70 marks

25% of the total qualification


Assessment overview

Students are assessed on their ability to communicate and interact effectively through speaking in Chinese for different purposes and in different settings.


There are three tasks which must be conducted in the following order:

● Task 1 – a role play based on one topic that is allocated by Pearson

● Task 2 – questions based on a picture stimulus based on one topic that is allocated by Pearson

● Task 3 – conversation based on two themes.


The first theme is based on the topic chosen by the student in advance of the assessment. The second theme is allocated by Pearson. The assessment will be available in Mandarin and Cantonese. The assessments are conducted by teachers in one session within a prescribed assessment window, the recordings are then submitted to Pearson for external marking.



Paper 3: Reading and understanding in Chinese


Foundation tier: 50 minutes; 50 marks.

Higher tier: 1 hour 5 minutes; 50 marks

25% of the total qualification


Assessment overview

Students are assessed on their understanding of written Chinese across a range of different types of texts, including advertisements, emails, letters, articles and literary texts. Students are required to respond to multiple-response and short-answer questions based on these texts.

Students must answer all questions in each of the two sections:

● Section A is set in English. The instructions to students are in English.

● Section B includes a translation passage from Chinese into English with instructions in English.

The assessment will be available in traditional and simplified characters. All questions and texts are printed twice, once with texts using traditional/full characters and once with texts in simplified characters.



Paper 4: Writing in Chinese


Foundation tier: 1 hour 20 minutes; 60 marks

Higher tier: 1 hour 25 minutes; 60 marks

25% of the total qualification


Assessment overview

Students are assessed on their ability to communicate effectively through writing in Chinese for different purposes and audiences. Students are required to produce responses of varying lengths and types to express ideas and opinions in Chinese. The instructions to students are in English. Character counts are specified for each question. Students must answer all questions.


Foundation tier: There are three open-response questions and one translation into Chinese.

Higher tier: There are two open-response questions and one translation into Chinese. Students can complete the assessment using either traditional or simplified characters. All questions are printed twice, once for students opting to write using traditional/full characters and once for students opting to write using simplified characters.






gcse mandarin chinese test structure tutor

The IGCSE Mandarin test assesses four language skills: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. Here's a breakdown of how each skill is assessed:

  1. Listening: The listening test is worth 25% of the total IGCSE marks. It lasts approximately 45 minutes and includes a range of listening activities, such as short conversations, longer passages, and questions based on these. Students are required to listen to a recording and answer questions in English.

  2. Speaking: The speaking test is worth 25% of the total IGCSE marks. It consists of three tasks: a role-play, a photo card, and a conversation. Each task lasts between 2-4 minutes and assesses the student's ability to communicate in Mandarin Chinese in various contexts.

  3. Reading: The reading test is worth 25% of the total IGCSE marks. It lasts approximately 1 hour and includes a range of reading activities, such as short texts, longer passages, and questions based on these. Students are required to read in Chinese characters and answer questions in English.

  4. Writing: The writing test is worth 25% of the total IGCSE marks. It consists of two tasks: a structured task and a free-writing task. The structured task requires students to write short sentences based on a given topic, while the free-writing task allows students to demonstrate their creativity and use of the language.

Overall, the IGCSE Mandarin test assesses the student's ability to understand and communicate in Mandarin Chinese, as well as their knowledge of Chinese culture and society. It is designed to assess the skills of non-native speakers of Chinese who have been learning the language for a few years.






AQA gcse chinese mandarin test structure tutor

The AQA Mandarin GCSE test is assessed through four language skills: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. Here's a breakdown of how each skill is assessed:

  1. Listening: The listening test is worth 25% of the total GCSE marks. It lasts approximately 35 minutes and includes a range of listening activities, such as short conversations, longer passages, and questions based on these. Students are required to listen to a recording and answer questions in English and/or Chinese characters.

  2. Speaking: The speaking test is worth 25% of the total GCSE marks. It consists of three tasks: a role-play, a photo card, and a general conversation. Each task lasts between 2-4 minutes and assesses the student's ability to communicate in Mandarin Chinese in various contexts.

  3. Reading: The reading test is worth 25% of the total GCSE marks. It lasts approximately 50 minutes and includes a range of reading activities, such as short texts, longer passages, and questions based on these. Students are required to read in Chinese characters and answer questions in English.

  4. Writing: The writing test is worth 25% of the total GCSE marks. It consists of two tasks: a structured task and a free-writing task. The structured task requires students to write short sentences based on a given topic, while the free-writing task allows students to demonstrate their creativity and use of the language.





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