The English Test for Chinese Middle School Students: Could You Do It?

A shockingly difficult test has leaked online

As any English student in China will tell you, learning English is a tool for communication. But it’s not just that. Learning any subject (including English) is subject to strict examinations. Since the system is so competitive, exams need to be as difficult as possible to separate the merely good ones from the great ones.

One such English examination was leaked online, and people were shocked at how hard it was. The test is from the Nanjing Foreign Language School, and many felt the extensive English section was too difficult to complete, even for adults. Do you have what it takes to get into the Nanjing Foreign Language School? Try out the following questions:

nanjing foreign language school test english

Running Man was one of the most popular entertainment programs in 2014. It passes a spirit as a way of life and concept of ___.

A: kind   B: glad   C: joy   D: brave

If you chose “C”, congratulations, you chose the right answer, being the only noun available, whereas the others are adjectives. All the same, we don’t know what a “concept of joy” is, nor specifically what “a spirit as a way of life” means.

The next exam question is based on the Chinese song Love My China, so if you know the lyrics, you’ll have no problem filling in the blanks:

nanjing foreign language school test 12

56 constellations and 56 flowers
56 brothers and sisters are a f___
56 k__ of languages merged into one w__
Love China, love China, love China
Love China
take new s__
Love China
Construct our c__
Love China
China is bright and brave
Love China

It may be more catchy in Chinese, but the missing words are still the same as the original: “family”, “kinds”, “word”, “steps”, and “country”.

If that question seemed difficult because it required a knowledge of two cultures, the next one may be next to impossible:

nanjing foreign language school test english

According to the information provided, please fill in the corresponding chengyu/Chinese idiom (in Chinese).

Eg: Confucius, cooked cow leather, bamboo sheet        韦编三绝 (wéibiānsānjué)

1. Kuang Heng, wall, light
2. Su Qin and Sunjin, hair, leg
3. cock, get up, sword

The clues provided in the question are details in the story that serves as the backdrop to the idiom. In the story, Confucius is said to be so studious that he broke the leather binding (cooked cow leather) of the bamboo scroll (bamboo sheet) three times from reading it so often, resulting in a idiom that means “study diligently”. Got it?

#1 is a idiom about Kuang Heng, a historical character said to be so studious that he would poke a hole in the wall so that he could “borrow” the light shining from his neighbor’s house in order to keep reading. The answer is 凿壁偷光 (záobìtōuguāng), an idiom that means “studious” and has a literal meaning of “bore a hole in the wall to steal light”.

#2 is about two other historical characters also revered for their study habits. Su Qin tied his hair to the rafters so that he would wake up whenever he nodded off, while Sunjin would use an awl (a long pointy spike) and stick it into his own leg so the pain would keep him awake, allowing them both to continue studying into the night. This gives us 悬梁刺股 (xuánliángcìgǔ), an idiom that means “to be painstaking in one’s study”, which literally tarnslates to “hang from the rafters and stab your leg”.

#3 isn’t about any specific historical character, but describes a story in which someone gets up at the crack of dawn upon hearing the rooster crow in order to practice martial arts using a sword. 闻鸡起舞 (wénjīqǐwǔ) means to be “diligent in one’s studies” and literally means “go dancing upon hearing the rooster”.

Want to test yourself further? Check out the rest of the exam questions below:

nanjing foreign language school test english

nanjing foreign language school test english

nanjing foreign language school test 04

nanjing foreign language school test english

nanjing foreign language school test english

nanjing foreign language school test english

nanjing foreign language school test english

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor