AP Chinese and AP Japanese Language and Culture Exam Tips

Explore tips and strategies that can help you on the AP Chinese and AP Japanese Language and Culture Exams.

In today's global community, competence in more than one language is an essential part of communication and cultural understanding. Your study of another language not only provides you with the ability to express thoughts and ideas but also gives you access to perspectives and knowledge that are only available through the language and culture. Language learning offers social, cultural, academic, and workplace benefits that will serve you throughout your life.

Developing Your Communication Skills

As you develop language proficiency, you learn to use your language skills within the three modes of communication.

  • In Interpersonal Communication, you engage in conversations and discussions, express ideas, and exchange opinions using both spoken and written language.
  • In Interpretive Communication, you understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics.
  • In Presentational Communication, you present information and ideas to an audience using spoken and written language.

Interpersonal Communication

Take every opportunity to use the language as much as you can. Participate actively in class discussions, get to know exchange students or other advanced students of the language, or connect with students from around the world using technology. Don’t worry about making mistakes, just use the language. If you find yourself struggling to remember a word, think about another way of expressing your idea.

In this mode of communication, you’ll need to be able to ask and answer a variety of questions, exchange information and ideas, and state and support your opinions. You’ll also need to interact appropriately in formal and informal situations with adults and peers.

Interpretive Communication

You should read, listen to, and watch a variety of materials from countries where the language you are studying is spoken. Explore your personal interests and find podcasts, websites, and videos that are especially interesting. Learn about current events by watching the news or reading online newspapers and magazines. For enjoyment, watch movies or cartoons, read stories, or listen to music. The important thing is you are using your language skills—and learning something about the cultural products, practices, and perspectives of the places where the language is spoken.

In this mode of communication, you’ll need to be able to understand main ideas and some details; recognize purpose, points of view, and audience; and think about perspectives different from your own. You don’t have to understand every word to be successful.

Presentational Communication

Being able to present your ideas in an organized way to various audiences is an important aspect of communication. Presentational Communication includes responding to text-chat messages, making a speech, writing an article that compares and contrasts two given topics, and making a presentation to your classmates or members of the community. No matter what the situation, you’ll need to prepare your thoughts and ideas in an organized fashion to reach your audience effectively.

In this mode of communication, you’ll need to be able to organize your presentation around a main idea and develop it in a logical fashion with relevant details and support. Depending on the goals of your presentation, you’ll need to be able to elaborate, describe, explain, compare/contrast, or justify your opinions.

Task Verbs

Pay close attention to the task verbs used in the free-response questions. Each one directs you to complete a specific type of response. Here are the task verbs you’ll see on the exam:

  • Choose: Select a topic among provided choices.
  • Compare/Highlight: Provide a description or explanation of similarities and/or differences.
  • Describe: Provide the relevant characteristics of a specified topic.
  • Explain: Provide information about how or why a specific perspective is significant.
  • Hear: Listen to directions and an audio source
  • Imagine: Visualize ideas related to a stimulus.
  • Make a presentation: Orally respond to a prompt.
  • Make a speech: Deliver a speech.
  • Narrate: Describe or recount a complete story (with a beginning, middle, and end) as suggested by the pictures.
  • Participate in a conversation: Respond to spoken prompts (such as providing a greeting; offering details, explanations, opinions, or perspectives; accepting or declining an invitation or suggestions; proposing solutions; and/or concluding a conversation).
  • Prepare: Plan your response.
  • Read: Look at or view printed directions and information.
  • Record: Capture spoken responses digitally.
  • Respond: Reply to a question or prompt.
  • Speak: Express ideas verbally in response to a specific question or prompt.
  • Type: Use a keyboard to type answers in the target language.