I have to pass the TOCFL (which used to be known as the TOP-Huayu, which used to be known as the CPT) Level 5 (also known as “Fluent Level”, which used to be known as Master Level, which used to be known as Advanced) in November. Seriously, can’t they just choose a name and stick with it?

Not only do I have to pass, but I believe I have to score a 77 if I want to be able to to my Master’s degree in my preferred department at my preferred school. Passing is 62, so that’s a significant difference. Not only that, but I also only get one chance. If I don’t pass in November, I don’t get to take it again until May, which is after the application deadlines. I could take it sooner, but only if I find enough people who want to sign up to take it at the same time.

So to this end, I was looking at the vocabulary list a few days ago and realized there was a very large number of words I don’t know. Many of them I’d be able to guess at in context, but I won’t have time for that during the test because it’s timed. I need to know these words cold.

So the next few months will be spent preparing specifically for this test. It only tests reading and listening, so I will be focusing on those skills in my studying. I’ve been told that the listening section in particular tends to be pretty dense, to the point of being unnatural, because they’re trying to squeeze so many “advanced” words into each question. The closest thing I can think of is news broadcasts, so I’m studying some material I have from ICLP which focuses on news (one for a course called 《新聞聽說讀》 Media Chinese, and one that has an accompanying textbook called 《新聞與觀點》News and Views).

As far as the reading section, I’m told the biggest problem is running out of time, and that being able to skim for information will be very helpful. I’m not sure what I’ll do to help with that, but perhaps a reader that has articles with some questions at the end of each will be good for that. For now I’m still studying 《思想與社會》 Thought and Society, and am planning on starting 《從精讀到泛讀》 The Independent Reader once I finish.

I’m reading a lot of 文言文 these days, which has been a lot of fun. My ability to read this stuff has improved a good bit, though I have a long way before I’ll be able to keep up with the Taiwanese students I’ll be studying alongside with next year. I’ll be continuing with this over the next few months, but only after I’ve done what I need to do as far as test-preparation every day. Priorities! Then of course, once I pass the test I’ll be spending as much time as possible on 文言文, so maybe I can keep my head above water when I start the degree.

So that’s what’s going on right now. I know most of my posts over the past few months have basically been “what I’m studying right now”, but that’s all I’ve really got time for right now. I have an “ICLP vs. MTC” post in my Drafts folder, since that’s one of the most common search terms here, but it may be a while before that one sees publication. A lot of people seem to want to know which school is “better”, or which one they should pick to study at. I’ll go ahead and spoil it for you though. The answer is: it depends.

See you next time.