Is AP Chinese Hard? Is AP Chinese Worth Taking?

3 min readoctober 8, 2021

Catherine Liu

Catherine Liu

AP Chinese  🇨🇳

53 resources
See Units

Introduction 🇨🇳

大家好! To an English speaker, Chinese is one of the hardest languages to learn. AP Chinese is for students who already have some experience with Chinese, either through family or through previous classes.
The test is broken up into 4 sections:
  1. Multiple choice listening, where you'll have 20 minutes to answer 25-35 questions about audio prompts.
  2. Multiple choice reading, where you'll have 60 minutes to answer 30-40 questions.
  3. Written free response, where you'll have 30 minutes write a story and an email.
  4. Spoken free response, where you'll have 10 minutes to respond to conversational questions and present on Chinese culture.

How difficult is AP Chinese? 🤔

Here are the score distributions from 2019:
  • 5: 60.1%
  • 4: 14.9%
  • 3: 14.8%
  • 2: 4%
  • 1: 6.2%
AP Chinese has the highest 5 rate out of every AP subject, but most students who take the test already speak Chinese at home. AP Chinese is probably going to be difficult if you aren't a native speaker, but there's good news! You can use pinyin on the writing section of the test, so you don't have to worry about writing out characters.
We also surveyed students about the difficulty of AP Chinese on a scale of not difficult at all to extremely difficult. Here are the results:
  • Students who spoke Chinese at home found the test to be slightly difficult (average score: 2.25).
  • Students who rarely or never spoke Chinese at home found the test to be moderately difficult (average score: 3).
Students generally found speaking to be the most difficult section...
"Speaking was the hardest part for me and my classmates. The issue isn’t that you don’t remember how to speak, but rather how to respond. Sometimes the questions that the College Board throws you can be confusing, especially since you only have 20 seconds to respond. It makes it extremely challenging to be suddenly thrust into a scenario where you are supposed to imagine a conversation with no build up. Even in English, I feel like I would struggle with immediately coming up with a response after being forced into a situation where I’m bombarded with questions."
"The most difficult was the speaking presentation; it’s hard to talk about a topic that you may not know a lot about nonstop."
. . . and writing to be the least difficult section.
"I found the writing part the easiest because although it was similar to speaking, I had more time and could revise what I had written. It was also nice that we could use a computer to input the characters instead of writing them out by hand."
"The easiest part for me in AP Chinese was the writing section. All you have to do is study the images, find a correlation, and simply describe the images. The story can be what you make of the images, and adding in details is a secondary thing."

Is AP Chinese worth taking? 🥮

If you're a nonnative speaker, AP Chinese is definitely worth taking if you want to strengthen your Chinese or test your proficiency. Chinese is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world, and being proficient can open job opportunities, especially in the field of business.
If you're a native speaker, AP Chinese might not be super helpful. However, taking the test and scoring high enough can get you out of foreign language requirements at some colleges. If this is something you want to do, do some research into the colleges you're interested in!

Closing statement 📌

AP Chinese shouldn't be too difficult if you have some experience under your belt, whether that be speaking Chinese at home or a few years of Chinese classes. If you do well on the test, you'll open up opportunities in college and beyond.
And lastly, if you've decided to take AP Chinese next year, take some tips from some former students:
"Familiarize yourself with the format ahead of time, don't be afraid to ask for help if your software is not working properly, and don't stress too much!"
"I personally watch a lot of Chinese dramas, and it honestly helped me a lot. I’d say practice is definitely key, whether it’s speaking or writing Chinese."
祝你好运! 🧧
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

Stay Connected

© 2023 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2023 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.