Ten Tips to Help You Revise for the Spanish GCSE Writing 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. In this article I'll be focusing on the writing section of the qualification, to give you the best chance to maximize your grade.
The writing exam offers a great opportunity to show off all the Spanish you have learnt. However, it does help to have an idea what the examiners are looking for and how they will mark your work. Here are my top ten tips to help you maximize your grade.
1. Practice Past Papers
If you become familiar with the format of the exam paper and the potential questions that may be asked, you will have a head start when completing your exam. 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. Some sections will offer different options of which question to answer, but you only have to complete one of the options.
Use a variety of tenses in each section to show off the range of your Spanish. Examiners will be looking for you to write in the past, present and future to reach the top marks. Try to look at which tenses are being used in the question as this can help you to identify how you might answer the question with multiple different of verb forms.
3. Connective Words
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You can prepare for the writing exam by learning a few connective words. This will allow you to create more complicated sentences. These could include:
tal como (such as)
por lo tanto (therefore)
sin embargo (however)
así que (so)
por ejemplo (for example)
Try not to use the same word too many times in your written piece. Instead, think of synonyms you could include i.e. words that mean the same thing. If you show the ability to express the same concept in different ways this will demonstrate the range and variety of your Spanish. For more tips on how to expand your Spanish vocabulary take a look at this article with some good methods for increasing the range of your language.
5. Be Opinionated
Expressing your opinion is a key criteria that you will be graded on in the exam. You cannot get top marks without demonstrating that you can express what you think about the topic. You can prepare by creating and learning some opinion sentences on each topic ahead of time. This way you will have some phrases that you can adapt to the requirements of the exam.
Use a variety of different opinion phrases not just “I think that” (pienso que). Here are a few ideas:
A mi modo de ver (as I see it)
Me parece que (it seems to me that)
En mi opinión (in my opinion)
Me molesta que (it annoys me that)
Creo que (I believe that)
6. Justify your Opinions
In addition to expressing your views on the given topic, you should aim to explain or justify these. Why do you think this? What are your reasons for having this opinion?
Here is an example:
Me parece que España es un país interesante dado que tiene playas bonitas y una cultura muy diversa.
(It seems to me that Spain is an interesting country given that it has beautiful beaches and a very diverse culture.)
You can use connecting phrases such as those below to create longer sentences which justify your opinions:
Dado que (given that)
Ya que (as)
7. Use comparative structures.
Another area that will improve your grade is comparative structures. By this I mean phrases to compare people and things. Learning and using these in your exam can improve your mark.
Take a look at these examples:
Ella es más habladora que yo.
(She is more talkative than me)
El pasaje de tren cuesta menos que el de avion.
(The train fare costs less than the one for the aeroplane)
8. Show Off
Take a moment before you start writing to consider how best to demonstrate your Spanish knowledge and use some of the key structures and phrases. This is your opportunity to show off what you know. Complexity of sentence structures and variety of vocabulary will help you obtain the top marks. Try to make your exam answer a showcase of what you know.
9. Double check
When you have finished your exam make sure you read it through and look out for any little spelling errors or mistakes. Take a breath and slowly work your way through what you have written. This can help you to spot any changes needed and dramatically improve your score for accuracy.
10. Look after yourself!
Revising for exams can feel stressful. Taking breaks from your revision is just as important as the work itself. Make sure you regularly take time out to do things that help you feel sane. Talk to friends, family, or teachers, if you are finding things hard. Don't be afraid to ask questions, however small!
For more tips to help with GCSE revision click here.
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Hi, I am Karen. I am a languages 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. If you would like to receive 10% off your first online lesson, as well as regular updates and tips for learning Spanish, subscribe here.