How Can I Get a 5 in AP Chinese?

4 min readoctober 8, 2021

Catherine Liu

Catherine Liu

AP Chinese  🇨🇳

53 resources
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Manifesting a 5 right now. Image Courtesy of PickPik

Overview 🇨🇳

AP Chinese has one of the highest 5 rates out there (above 60%!), but no matter how confident you are, you should still take steps to make sure you're ready to take the test in May. Here are our tips on how to get a 5 in AP Chinese!

1. Know the Test 📚

You'll need to know the content covered on the exam as well as the format of the exam in order to earn a 5. The College Board has a unique way of testing your knowledge, so don't let that surprise you on exam day!
For more in-depth information about the format of the exam (including test-taking tips and tricks), check out our multiple-choice and free-response blogs on the AP Chinese hub.

Course Content

Take a look at the structure of the AP Chinese course:
While there's no strict content included in these units, the College Board's Course and Exam Description provides more specific recommendations on what each unit should encompass. Also, there's no exam weighting, so you should be comfortable with all of these topics and how they intersect with one another.

Exam Format

The multiple-choice section makes up 50% of your score, and you have an hour and 20 minutes to answer 65 questions. This section has 2 parts:
  • Part A: Listening 🎧
    • Identify the next line in a conversation.
    • Answer questions in English about listening stimuli.
    • Each question has a time limit.
    • You can't revisit questions.
  • Part B: Reading 📕
    • Answer questions in English about different Chinese texts.
    • You can revisit questions.
The free-response section makes up the other 50% of your score, and you have 40 minutes to complete 4 tasks. This section has 2 parts:
  • Part A: Writing ✍🏽
    • Create a story about a set of pictures.
    • Respond to an email.
    • You can type characters using pinyin or Bopomofo in simplified or traditional Chinese.
  • Part B: Speaking 🗣️
    • Respond to questions as part of a conversation.
    • Present on an aspect of Chinese culture based on a prompt.

2. Make a Study Schedule 🗓️

In the month leading up to the test, you should make a study schedule. Make sure to go over all of the necessary content and skills to prepare for the test!

Sample Schedule

1Units 1 and 2Comprehending and interpreting text2019 and 2018 FRQs, read or listen to 4 short stories in Chinese and write summaries of them in English
2Units 3 and 4Speaking to others and presenting orally2017 and 2016 FRQs, give cultural presentations on units 1-4, practice speaking with a friend/teacher/family member
3Units 5 and 6Writing to others and presenting in writing2015 and 2014 FRQs, write 3 emails in Chinese
4Anything you think that you need to focus on!Anything you think that you need to focus on!2007 MCQs, 2013 FRQ
You can use this schedule as a reference, but make sure to tailor your schedule to your own needs. If you need to prioritize one unit over another, make sure to incorporate that into your plans. Consider your other classes, too, and gauge how much practice you can reasonably fit into a week. Don't overload yourself!

3. Practice, practice, practice! ✏️

Last but not least, the best way to set yourself up for a 5 is to practice! Not only should you practice in your day-to-day conversations, but you should take AP-style practice tests. This strategy will help you understand exactly how the College Board asks questions. As you practice, take note of what you get wrong and review the concepts or skills that challenged you.
For the multiple-choice section, use this official, full-length AP Chinese multiple-choice exam. You should also read news articles or short stories in Chinese to prepare for the reading section.
📹Watching Chinese movies and shows is a great way to practice while having fun! Consider some Netflix fan favorites like Us and Them, Meteor Garden, The Rise of Phoenixes, The Untamed, and Put Your Head on My Shoulder.
For the free-response section, use these past FRQs. Make sure to answer the prompts on your own (the best practice!), but look at sample answers to get an idea of what the College Board wants as well.
If you have family, friends, or classmates who can speak Chinese, have conversations with them. Let them critique you on grammar and pronunciation and take note of what is difficult for you. 📝

Closing Thoughts 💭

To sum it up: practice. If you're struggling to understand concepts on your own, don't be afraid to ask questions! AP Chinese can be difficult, especially when it comes to speaking, but as long as you keep working at it, you'll be on your way to a 5 🥳
Browse Study Guides By Unit
👨‍👩‍👧Unit 1 – Families in China
🗣Unit 2 – Language & Culture in China
🎨Unit 3 – Beauty & Art in China
🔬Unit 4 – Science & Technology in China
🏠Unit 5 – Quality of Life in China
💴Unit 6 – Challenges in China
✍️Exam Skills - FRQ/MCQ

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