A total of 1,200 students from 51 secondary schools took part yesterday in the preliminary round of this year's National Chinese Challenge.
The annual competition is organised by Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao and Nanyang Girls' High School.
It tests the students' Chinese language ability, translation skills and general knowledge, and seeks to create an opportunity for participants to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese language and culture.
Some 760 students participated in the first challenge last year.
This year, organisers removed the cap on the maximum number of students each school can send.
"We want to encourage schools to send as many students as possible - not only the best ones - so that everyone has a chance to participate and learn," said Ms Lim Wan Cheng, 55, one of the organisers.
The preliminary round consisted of a written quiz with multiple-choice questions and an open-ended riddle segment, in which students had to guess the appropriate idiom from the pictures provided.
They were given 50 minutes to complete 100 questions.
The results of the preliminary round will be released on April 17.
The highest average scores of each school's four best students will be tallied, and the nine best schools will take part in the semi-finals on April 24, with the finals held later that day.
The champion team will win a $3,000 cash prize and a trophy.
Nanyang Girls' High student Liao Li Yao, 14, said: "We heard from our seniors that the test was very hard but I thought it was quite fun, especially the guessing the idioms part which needs you to think out of the box."
Naomi Ong, 15, from defending champions Commonwealth Secondary, added: "We hope to get to the semi-finals at least, to continue the legacy of our seniors."
This article was first published on April 11, 2015.
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