Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Preparing to take the STAMP Chinese Proficiency Test

For most students, the first step to applying to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center is to take the Avant Assessment’s STAMP Chinese Proficiency Test. The test is required for admission and it can help gauge which program is the best fit for you.

Preparing for the proficiency test
We often have applicants ask the admissions team how they can prepare for the Chinese proficiency test. The truth is that there is no formal study guide or textbook to help you prepare. The proficiency test is a content-based test that covers diverse topics and subject matter. It tests your ability to understand main ideas from written Chinese passages and audio recordings. This content-based test is reflective of the Hopkins-Nanjing Center’s content-language coursework in that you are tested on your comprehension, rather than your ability to identify specific vocabulary words or grammar points.

The test questions are multiple-choice for both the listening and reading sections. There is a practice test available, but it’s designed for you to get a feel for the test structure rather than the difficulty of the test. The actual test will be more challenging. For example, you might read a section of a Chinese contract or listen to a segment of a real Chinese radio broadcast. The proficiency test is designed to challenge you and push you to the limit of your language ability. It’s an adaptive test, which means as you answer questions correctly, the questions get more and more difficult. Even if you don’t know the answer to a particular question, try your best to answer each question to the best of your ability.

There are, of course, still things that you can do in preparation to take the test. Regularly reading Chinese news articles can be a great way to practice your reading comprehension skills. To improve your listening skills, listening to Chinese news broadcasts and podcasts, or even watching Chinese TV shows, can help you get used to hearing native speakers talk at a natural pace. Another tip is to listen to something in Chinese right before the test, so you are already used to listening to Chinese before you begin.

How to take the proficiency test 
You can take the test any time before our February 1 admissions deadline, but we generally recommend taking the test when you first begin your application. Keep in mind that you can only take the test once every three months. When you are ready, submit the test request form and submit the test payment ($15 for in-person proctoring; $30 for virtual proctoring). In-person proctoring requires you to find a test proctor to supervise the test. Virtual proctoring provides you with an alternative should you not be able to find a test proctor. For more information about requesting the test and proctoring, visit our website.

Getting your results
Within two business days, the admissions office will notify you of your test results. For students applying to the Certificate program (including the Certificate + MA), the recommended score is 1200. For students applying to the Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS), the recommended score is 1300. We will provide you with a breakdown of your score and let you know which programs you are eligible for. If you score lower than our recommended scores, we will also let you know if we advise you to continue your Chinese language studies throughout the year and over the summer.

As you prepare to take the Chinese proficiency test, reach out to the admissions office at nanjing@jhu.edu if you have any questions.