What should you revise for your French/Spanish GCSE exam?

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March 29, 2021
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What should you revise for your French/Spanish GCSE exam?

With the end of the school year fast approaching, it is normal to worry about your exams. You’ve studied hard all year and you want to see that reflected in your GCSE results.

2020 and 2021 are being exceptionally challenging — if you don’t feel that your level of preparation is up to your past standards, know that you’re not alone. Students across the world report to be experiencing the same worries about their studies and career plans.Although GCSE exams in 2021 are going to be completely different from what you’re used to, you can still revise your subjects and ready your skills and knowledge for the year ahead.

In this thorough guide, you will find useful information for GCSE language students, including:

  • What to revise for your GCSE Spanish and French
  • Advice for GCSE exam day
  • GCSE Spanish and French resources
  • How My Language Lab can help you with your GCSE preparation for languages
  • What’s going to happen to GCSE exams in 2021
  • When to revise for your GCSEs

How to revise for French and Spanish GCSEs

Whether you’re studying for a French, Spanish, or German GCSE, the areas on which to focus are very similar.

How can I improve my French before the GCSE?

The listening section of the French AQA GCSE exam is feared by many students. Depending on your exam board, it contributes to around 25% of your mark and depending on your tier, it can last 35 or 45 minutes. It can be difficult to stay focused during a listening exam — it’s quite common to panic and lose track of the whole conversation once you encounter a difficult sentence.The best way to practice is by immersing yourself in the French language weeks before the exam. Listen to French music and podcasts, for example, watch French Youtube videos, Insta reels or TikTok clips and explore the wide range of French movies and TV series on Netflix.

How to revise vocab for the GCSE Spanish speaking exam

The speaking exam is a much faster test, lasting only 7 to 9 minutes at the Foundation level. It can be a role play, a photo card activity, or a simple conversation — or all three. Either way, if you don’t have words to express yourself, 7 minutes can become an incredibly long time to fill. Here are some tips to revise your vocabulary and prepare for the GCSE listening exam:

  • Prepare presentations on various topics covered in class
  • Practice your presentation with someone else to boost your confidence
  • Use flashcards, language apps, and resources like the BBC bitesize Spanish to learn new words
  • Build your own personal vocab book where to write down all the new words you encounter

How is the French GCSE reading paper structured?

The reading test asks you to read and understand a French text and answer related questions. It’s a written exam that lasts 45 minutes or one hour depending on your level.You will find 3 sections:

  1. Questions in English to be answered in English or non-verbally
  2. Questions in French to be answered in French or non-verbally
  3. A translation from French into English

The best way to practice for the reading GCSE test is, you guessed it, reading. You don’t have to go on and read Les Miserables in one night — try social media videos and posts that you’re interested in. Remember to have a solid understanding of French tenses and question formulation to understand what’s being asked.

How to revise for Spanish GCSE writing

During the GCSE Spanish writing exam, you’ll be asked to write 2 texts, again, depending on your exam board and level:

  • In the first task, you’ll write about a reading passage that is presented to you
  • In the second one, you’ll be given the choice between 3 topics

The writing exam will look at your grammar as well as your vocabulary and your ability to transition from one sentence to the next. Write, write, and write again before your test. Text your friends in Spanish and look at mock exams and past papers for practice. Ask your language tutor to go through some of your work to identify the areas to improve and give you some writing tips.

During the exam: Tips to get a 9 in your Spanish GCSE

Find below some actionable tips for your language exams (they apply to all modern languages, it doesn’t matter whether you’re revising for a Spanish GCSE or French). If you follow them on exam day, you’ll notice that you’ll be calmer and more in control of the situation.

  • Sit down and plan. Take a few minutes to calmly familiarise yourself with the exam and decide which part you want to tackle first (if you’re given the choice). Some people choose to do the essay first because they find it most challenging, but then again the reading paper can give you inspiration and vocab for the writing.
  • Look at the questions. Some questions may be worth more marks than others. This reflects the time and effort you should dedicate to them. If the question is in your target language you should answer in that language.
  • Don’t leave blank spaces. Even if you can’t come up with the right word, try to think of a synonym or similar term. Leaving a blank space will suggest to the examiner that you didn’t try hard enough or that you ran out of time!
  • Numbers are ok. Unless specifically told otherwise, you can write numbers in figures and don’t have to spell them out.
  • Use the rough paper. You may benefit from taking notes as you answer your questions, for example, to later pick the specific words you want to use. The rough paper also comes in handy when preparing the structure of your essay.
  • Tips to translate: When you can’t remember how to translate a word from English, think of other languages you may know as they may be similar to your target language. ‘Church’, for example, translates as iglesia in Spanish and église in French. Otherwise, think of a different but related word, or a ‘funnier’, or older way of saying things: ‘bullying’ is intimidación in Spanish, which has nothing to do with the word bullying but is quite close to ‘intimidation’.
  • Leave time at the end for corrections. Go through your paper a few times at the end of the test as you may have made mistakes that you can easily correct. These are unforced mistakes that slipped your mind at the moment but that you can recognise instantly when you take a step back — they can easily make the difference in your final results.

GCSE Spanish and French resources

Thanks to the internet, there have never been so many resources for language learners out there — the world is your oyster!However, simply googling ‘GCSE Spanish resources’ will return tons of results to go through. We’ve done the research for you so that you don’t have to waste precious time that you can dedicate to your GCSE revision instead. Remember: what works for some does not necessarily work for you. If you’re a visual learner, you may prefer YouTube language videos to written grammar exercises. Experiment with different formats and find out what’s best for your learning patterns.

Resources to revise for a Spanish GCSE exam

We’ve already talked about BBC bitesize. Not only there’s one for Spanish, but did you know that there’s also a separate BBC foreign language section?Lingolex has been around for a long time and is the go-to website for many when it comes to grammar and vocab exercises online.!Oye¡ also offers grammar practice but includes specific sections for speaking and reading revision.If you want to improve your vocabulary fast, apps like Memrise are a great resource. They are not the best to improve your speaking or writing skills but they’ll sure teach you loads of new words.

Resources to revise for a French GCSE exam

You guessed it: the BBC has a French section too that you can take advantage of.S-cool and have lots of different grammar exercises for you to test your knowledge. If you want to improve your French but need something more fun, try out this game by Jeu de l’oie.

How My Language Lab can help you with your GCSE preparation

If you’re preparing for a French GCSE or maybe you want to revise for your English or Spanish exam, you came to the right place.At MyLanguageLab, we specialise in private French, Spanish, and English lessons. Our students improve their grade on average by 2.0. In 2020, 98% of our GCSE and IGCSE students achieved 9-7 Grades. Our tutors are not only experts in their language but also in academic assessment. If you need to ace a Spanish or French GCSE exam, we’ll make sure to pair you with a tutor who is familiar with the UK education system and past GCSE papers and knows what works. Lessons are tailored around your schedule and needs.


Are GCSEs cancelled for 2021?

At the end of February 2021, the government confirmed that this year’s exams cannot be held normally, and recognised the unique circumstances affecting the learning journey and mental health of students in the UK.For this reason, traditional GCSE tests are cancelled — but students will still get their grades.

What will be marked for GCSE language results?

If you have covered enough content this year to progress to the next level in your education, you will be eligible to receive your GCSE results for modern languages.Teachers will look at your non-exam assessment work(NEA) to come up with your final grade. Examples of NEA include:

  • Completed homework
  • Mock exams results
  • In-class tests

In the case of modern languages, your school should submit separate grade recommendations for your spoken skills to the exam board.

When will I have my GCSE results for 2021?

You should have your results by August 12th this year.

When should you start revising for your GCSEs?

If you’re wondering how to get a 9 in your AQA Spanish GCSE exam, or any other board, then the advice is to plan ahead. Remember that your in-class assessments will also contribute to the final grade submitted to examiners. The most effective way to ace your preparation is to sit down a few months before the test and make a revision schedule. Look at your average weekly activities including tuition, family time, and hobbies. Factor in the time you spend relaxing, exercising, and socialising. You will then have a clear idea of how many hours you can dedicate to your Spanish or French GCSE revision and how many weeks you’ll need to achieve your goals.If you have multiple subjects to revise, then simply multiply the weeks for the number of subjects you have to cover.Do keep in mind that everyone is different. You know yourself best — if pressure makes you slower and more distracted, you may want to start earlier than your last-minute peers and proceed at a more relaxed pace.You can take a free online assessment today to check your level and figure out a revision plan that works for your lifestyle and academic goals.