If your GCSE Spanish exam is just around the corner and you don’t know where to begin, this post will help point you in the right direction. Spanish tutor Natasha provides her top GCSE Spanish revision tips and advice, covering the speaking, reading, writing, and listening exams.
If your GCSE Spanish exam is on the horizon, and you’re struggling with where to begin, then this post is for you. We’re about to provide our top GCSE Spanish revision tips to ensure that you have a structured approach to revising.
Before you can begin revising for GCSE Spanish, it’s important to know what the exam entails and what topics you’ll need to revise. Once you’ve covered what you need to learn, then you can begin to focus on how. It’s a good idea to get organised by creating a GCSE Spanish revision planner, which will outline what you’ll be studying and when. It can be as simple, or as complicated, as you like – anything from a wall calendar to an Excel spreadsheet will work.
The GCSE Spanish Exam Format
To get you started, here’s an overview of the GCSE Spanish exam format, as outlined on the AQA website:
Paper 1: Listening – At Foundation level, this is a 35-minute paper that awards 40 marks. At Higher level, it’s 45-minutes long, with 50 marks available. Overall, the listening exam contributes to 25% of your grade. The first section will ask questions in English, which have to be answered in English too. The second part, however, will ask questions in Spanish, which have to be answered in Spanish.
Paper 2: Speaking – The speaking exam will not take place in an exam hall, but more likely in a classroom with your Spanish teacher. At Foundation level, the test lasts 7-9 minutes, whereas at Higher level it’s 10-12 minutes. There are 60 marks available in total, and the test makes up 25% of your overall grade. There are both role-play, or photo card, and conversation elements to the test.
Paper 3: Reading – The GCSE reading paper is a written exam that lasts for 45-minutes at Foundation level, and 1 hour at Higher level. There are 60 marks available in total, which will contribute 25% of your overall grade. The first section will ask questions in English, which should be answered in English too. The second section asks questions in Spanish, to be answered in Spanish, and the third section will be a translation from Spanish to English.
Paper 4: Writing – The Spanish written exam lasts for one 1 hour at Foundation level and 1 hour 15 minutes at Higher level. 50 marks are available at Foundation level, and 60 marks are awarded at Higher level. Both levels have 4 questions in each paper.
GCSE Spanish Listening Exam Advice
One of the best ways to revise for the GCSE Spanish listening exam is to use the audio recordings that accompany past papers. The AQA website has audio files that you can download for free, here.
Before you listen to the audio, it’s useful to think of any words and phrases related to the paper’s topic that may come up. This way, you’ll be more likely to pick up on them when you hear them – especially the trickier phrases.
Numbers can be easily mistaken during the listening exam, so be sure to listen very carefully when they arise in the paper. During the exam you’ll have two chances to listen to the recording, so be sure to use the second hearing to clear up any hesitation you may have had the first time round.
When revising with the past papers, you’ll also have access to the audio transcript. After you’ve listened to the recording twice and written down the answers, you can go over the paper with the transcript, noting down anything you may have missed.
Other good ways to prepare for the listening exam are to listen to Spanish radio or podcasts, so that you can get used to listening to the language. Podcasts such as News In Slow Spanish are great for language learners working towards intermediate level Spanish.
GCSE Spanish Speaking Exam Tips
The speaking exam has two sections. The first section will ask you to give a presentation based on a single picture, or it will be a roleplay. The second part will then require you to have a conversation based upon topic areas that you presented on in the first section.
One of best ways to practice for the presentation section of the exam is to have several presentations prepared and practiced ahead of time. Even though you can’t be sure of which topics will come up on the day, having a list of possible words and phrases that you could use for each topic area will allow you to be well prepared.
Practicing your presentations with another person is also a great way to revise. Even if the other person doesn’t speak Spanish, presenting out loud will help to improve your confidence, and also flag up any areas of pronunciation or accent that need fine-tuning.
You could also try recording your presentation on your phone, so that you can listen back to it as part of your revision. You can also listen to it right before the exam, to put yourself in the right frame of mind.
GCSE Spanish Reading Exam Preparation
The first section of the reading exam will ask you to answer questions in English, while the second part asks you to answer in Spanish. For both parts of the exam, make sure that you read the accompanying comprehension text carefully before you attempt to answer the questions that follow. This will help to provide you with context to the topic.
Revision for the reading exam should focus on vocabulary, and grammar areas such as tenses. Ensure that you’re able to confidently identify sentences in the past, present and future, and that you’re familiar with all question types, i.e. what, why, when, who, how, etc.
Using past papers as a revision tool and help familiarise you with the words and phrases related to each topic that you’ll need to know. In general, the more Spanish texts you read, the better you’ll be a identifying words and phrases. You could try reading Spanish blogs, newspapers or books to prepare you for the reading exam.
GCSE Spanish Writing Practice
The writing exam consists of two tasks. The first will ask you to write about a topic related to a reading passage, and the second part will ask you to select a task from a choice of three, each of which will require a different writing style – discursive, narrative, descriptive etc.
In both parts of the exam, you’ll need to use a variety of tenses, clauses and vocabulary. You should also be able to demonstrate accurate grammar use.
The best way to revise for your GCSE Spanish writing exam is to practice and have someone assess your writing when you’re finished. Past papers are a great way to familiarise yourself with the style and layout of each type of question in the exam, but personal feedback on your writing will truly help to hone your skills. Ask your class teacher, or Spanish tutor to look over your writing, so that you know which areas you need to improve upon.
How to Improve GCSE Spanish Vocabulary
When it comes to revising GCSE Spanish vocabulary, the sooner you start the better. The more time you have to increase your vocabulary, the more words and phrases you’ll have in your arsenal when it comes to the exam day. It’s a good idea to keep a ‘vocab book’, where you can jot down any new words or phrases that you come across. You can then go over them to prepare before your exam.
It’s also a good idea to read a variety of Spanish texts written in different styles, and note down any words or phrases that you could use in your exam. If you’re more of a visual learner, you could try writing words and phrases on post-it notes and sticking them around your study area to help you to memorise them before the exam.
Practice with GCSE Spanish Past Papers
Whilst it’s important to know the content of an exam, having good exam technique is also key. Using past papers as part of your revision is a great way to get to grips with the layout of each paper, and the types of questions that you could be asked.
Past papers will also help you to identify any weak areas in your Spanish, as they enable you to track your progress by checking your answers against the provided marking schemes. As your GCSE Spanish exam approaches, it’s also a good idea to try to do the papers under exam conditions to help improve your time management skills. The more you practice answering questions under timed conditions, the quicker you’ll get at answering under pressure.
GCSE Spanish past papers can be downloaded directly from the AQA website, here.
For more advice on revising for GCSE Spanish, check out this useful YouTube video from Revision with Eve:
Please note that the GCSE Spanish revision tips contained in this post should not be used as a substitute for advice given by your school and the AQA website