Ten Tips to Help You Revise for the Spanish GCSE Reading Exam and Achieve Top Grades
Welcome to the My Spanish Tutor blog. I hope you find it supportive and helpful as you revise for your Spanish GCSE. If you are reading this then you are probably thinking about preparing for your Spanish GCSE reading assessment. The good news is, of the four disciplines (speaking, listening, reading and writing), reading is the one that most students find easiest. That said, there are still some simple things you can do to help maximise your grade.
1. Use the Clues
The paper itself may give you clues about how to answer the questions. If the question is in English, always respond in English. Equally if the question is in Spanish, always respond in that language. There may be images on the exam paper too. Use these to gain an insight into the context of what is written.
When you start to read the Spanish extracts provided look for any words that you recognise. Perhaps underline these. You don’t have to understand every single word to get a great mark in a reading exam, so don’t panic if you don’t immediately understand what is written. Understanding just a few words can be enough to find the correct answer.
Make sure you give an answer for all the questions. If there are some that you aren’t sure about, have a guess. It is surprising how many questions you can get right just by using a few words you do recognise.
2. Know Question Words in Spanish
Being able to recognise the question words (what,why,how,when,who) will give you a head start in understanding questions that may be posed to you in Spanish. Avoid that panic of not understanding the question by knowing these words:
Qué - What
Cómo – How/What
Cuándo - When
Dónde - Where
Quien - Who
Por qué - Why
3. Be aware of negative words
Negative words, such as no, neither or never, can completely change the meaning of a sentence. Knowing these words will help improve your understanding of the extracts in the exams. Examples of negative words are:
No – No/Not
Ni – Neither/Nor
Nunca - Never
Nada - Nothing
Nadie - Nobody
Ningún - None
Sin - Without
Tampoco – Neither
4. Boost Your Vocabulary
It can be daunting when you are faced with a huge list of vocabulary to learn. The more vocabulary you know the better for you Spanish reading exam, so how can you tackle this?
A good strategy is dividing words up into “families” or groups.
Choose a topic such as holidays (vacaciones) and write down as many Spanish words as you can relating to this (e.g. playa, calor, viajar, verano). By making associations between words you will be able to remember more.
5. Time phrases are your friend
Knowing words that give you an indication of when and how often something happens can open up the meaning of a Spanish sentence. Examples of these are:
Siempre – Always
Habitualmente – Usually
A menudo – Often
A veces – Sometimes
De vez en cuando – Every now and then
Pocas veces/ Rara vez - Rarely
Nunca – Never
Ayer – Yesterday
Hoy – Today
Mañana – Tomorrow
La próxima semana – Next week
En el pasado – In the past
En el futuro – In the future
6. Know your tenses
This almost goes without saying but revising your verb tenses is absolutely key to getting a good GCSE grade. Feeling overwhelmed by it? Try lightening the mood with some online games to help you practice.
The Conjugemos website is a great place to start: https://conjuguemos.com/activities/spanish/verb/1
7. Read texts outside class
Find Spanish texts about your interests and read these. Look up any words you don’t understand. It is absolutely amazing how quickly you will build your confidence and vocabulary this way. Doing simple internet searches in Spanish can help you find articles in Spanish you are actually interested in.
There are also lots of free resources for Spanish learners to read. For example:
8. Set phrases
There are some phrases in Spanish that do not directly translate into English. It is worth learning the common ones to save you getting confused by them in the exam. Here are some examples:
Me llevo bien con – I get on well with
Hoy en día - Nowadays
Estar a punto de – To be about to
Desde hace - Since
Hace (dos semanas) – (Two weeks) ago
9. Past papers
Get some past papers and use these to revise. It will really help you to be familiar with the layout and the potential questions that may be asked. You can download past papers from exam board websites to practice.
Try to practice with the same time restrictions so you can get used to completing the paper in the allocated time. Make sure you read each question carefully and answer all sections.
10. Keep calm and get rest
It can feel stressful and overwhelming revising. Try and look after yourself and get a good night sleep if you can before you attend your exam.
Overloading on revision with no rest can be counterproductive and lead to worse results.
During the exam don’t worry if you can’t understand a text word for word. Very few students can do this at GCSE level. Instead focus on what you do know and make judgements from the context. You will be amazed at how high your grade can be with this strategy.
Good luck with all your revision! Do check my other articles about revising for GCSE Spanish.
Hi, I am Karen. I am a Spanish tutor and blogger. I offer online tuition for students across the UK.
I live in Tonbridge, in Kent, with my husband and my son. For me learning Spanish has meant fun, adventure, friendship and fulfilling work.
I love sharing all that I have learnt with my students and via my blog.
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