East Asia Student

Random Stuff Related to East Asia


A look at our final year exams in Chinese Studies at Cambridge

My final year exams in East Asian Studies (Chinese) will take place this year in May, so I’m making this simple break-down of the exams and their contents to keep myself clear and on track.

final year exams at Cambridge

Final year exams: written

We have five written exams that have three questions each and last three hours each.

C12: Modern Chinese → English translation (general)

This is a general test of Chinese → English written translation, with three unseen texts to be translated into English in three hours.

C13: Classical Chinese → English translation

Three Classical Chinese texts to translate into English in three hours, with a mix of prose / poetry and seen / unseen.

C14: Modern Chinese → English translation (literature)

This is a reading / translation exam that’s tied to our specialist choice, in my case Modern Chinese Literature. There’ll be three unseen (but cognate) literature texts roughly from 1900 - 1980 to translate into English in three hours.

C17: Essay questions on Chinese literature

This is my specialist choice. Three essay questions (in English) on Modern Chinese Literature in three hours.

C11: English → Chinese translation, Chinese composition

Translate two unseen English texts into Chinese and produce a short composition / essay in Chinese, in three hours.

Other final year modules

Besides the five written exams, we also have two more modules:

Chinese Oral

This is split into two halves taken separately. The first is a multiple-choice listening test, and the second is an actual oral exam with three examiners. The oral exam will include ‘interpretation’ (orally translating a printed text with little preparation).


This is a ~12k word project related to our specialist choice that has to be handed in at the beginning of next term. Mine is on Wang Meng and Liu Binyan”).

Stuff to note

  • 5 written exams, one oral exam, one dissertation.
  • Total written exam time 15 hours.
  • Marks are spread evenly, so each module is worth ~15%.
  • I’m guessing marks for some modules will be capped at 75% like they have been in previous years. This prevents us from using strong modules to compensate for bad ones.
  • We only have to write Chinese in one exam, and only have to speak it in one.
  • As the speaking part of the oral exam is only one half of it, our ability to speak Chinese only counts for ~7.5% of our degree.