odysseyandoracle wrote: if a text tells you that glubenfopper is bigger than muffelheimer and a question asks you which one is the biggest, it doesn't really matter if you have no idea what either glubenfopper or muffelheimer are. Hell, they even opted for 自行車 rather than 腳踏車.
You're right...which begs the question, what information are they really getting about one's proficiency? I know not all the items are like this -- but it takes a lot more to write meaningful multiple-choice questions that are integrative and reflect comprehension, not just answerable by a simple pattern drill or having read the grammar book.
At least the days of giving a three-paragraph passage and then asking, "Which of the following four chengyu best sums up the preceding three paragraphs?" seem to be over (please tell me they are?)
To be fair, while I haven't taken the HSK I did use (new) HSK 6 practice materials to prepare for the TOCFL, and I found that to be even more the case with both their listening and reading sections. The grammar/vocabulary would be ostensibly more difficult than the TOCFL, but the questions were very straightforward and mostly involved picking out one sentence from the text (for example, Q: "What is the most important challenge these families face?" Text: "Chengyu chengyu chengyu chengyu, the most important challenge families face is ___________.") which was often, not always, untrue when I took the TOCFL. The TOCFL questions, on the other hand, seemed to be more similar to the kinds of questions that would be asked on the reading comprehension sections of the SAT and GRE. Not that you mentioned the HSK, but I sometimes see it bandied about on the internet as being somehow more 'intense' than the TOCFL - not quite the case, if one knows how to take the test. Both tests reflect what I would consider roughly a high school reading level if in English.
No, there weren't any questions like that! I'm pretty good at chengyu and I spent a lot of time learning as many as I could before I took the test, but there weren't as many as I expected on the reading section. They are more important to the listening section, I'd say.
The thing that annoyed me most about the test was the pencils they gave us to take notes with. The point was almost as thick as a crayon! I had to resort to writing pinyin because I simply couldn't write characters quickly enough without having it come out completely illegible.
archy: I have heard that TLI gives the HSK but I can't confirm that that's true. A quick scan of their website doesn't reveal anything.