Preparing for the English Portion of the Graduate School Entrance Exam Secondary Test
Congratulations to those of you who passed the initial written portion of the Graduate School Entrance Exam! You should be very proud, and you are well on your way to achieving your goal of gaining admission to a graduate program in China. However, with the written test out of the way, you now face the new challenge of passing the secondary test, or fushi, at your school of choice. In this article, I will explain the English portion of the secondary test, and give you some strategies that you can use to help you do your best on the test. I'll focus on the speaking portion of the test, as that is the portion with which most students are least familiar.
Introduction to the Test
The English portion secondary test is administered by each school, and the format can thus vary from school to school, though most schools include both listening and speaking portions. While some schools provide candidates with detailed information about the specific format to be used, many schools leave candidates in the dark. The best indicator of the type of test used by each school is often the type of test the school administered the previous year. You can learn about the formats used by particular schools in past years by searching for accounts from students on online forums.
The format of the listening test is usually similar to either the listening test used on the NETEM from 2002 to 2004, or the English Band 4 and Band 6 Listening tests. To prepare for the listening test, you should spend some time doing questions from past NETEM and Band 6 listening exams.
The speaking portion of the test generally takes the form of an interview with two to three examiners and one to four students. The examiners are usually English teachers at the university, and not professors in your area of study. The speaking test often includes one or more of the following elements：
-The interviewers will either ask you some basic questions about yourself or ask you to give a brief monologue introducing yourself. Most schools include this element, so you should definitely be prepared to introduce yourself.
2. Topic Q&A
-The interviewers may ask you questions about some specific topics, perhaps including your reasons for choosing your major or other generic topics such as movies or travel.
3. Extended Topic Monologue
-The interviewers may give you a topic and ask you to speak at length about the topic for one to two minutes. You will almost always be given some time to prepare. This element is similar to part two of the IELTS, so you might consider using IELTS topics to practice.
4. Reading Aloud
-The interviewers may give you a passage in English to read out loud. This element is rather rare.
5. Candidate Dialogue
-If your interview includes multiple students, you may be asked to have a discussion on a specific topic with your fellow candidate.
6. Picture Description
-You may be given a picture or cartoon and asked to describe it and explain its significance or meaning. This element is virtually identical to one of the writing tasks on the NETEM, so you can use past writing topics to practice this element.
Given the fact that you don't have much time left to prepare for the test, the most important thing you can do is to spend at least a little bit of time practicing every day. Even just twenty or thirty minutes a day will help you do your best on the test. I suggest trying the following three methods to improve your speaking in a short period of time.
1. Record yourself speaking English
-You'll be surprised how many fixable mistakes you notice when you listen to a recording of yourself speaking English.
2. Ask a Chinese friend for advice
-After hearing you speak in English, your friend might be able to notice some areas in need of improvement that you failed to notice yourself
3. Ask your foreign English teacher for advice
-A native English speaker may be able to suggest some improvements that both you and your friend failed to notice.
Finally, remember to get a good night's sleep before the test, and do your best to be relaxed during the test. Good luck!