Top 10 Exam Tips


With exams upon us, I thought i’d share my top tips for exam success with modern foreign languages.

  1. Know your exam board

    By this, I mean do their past papers, get familiar with the format of their exams, and use all their resources! There will be structured vocab lists for you to use and learn, model answers, examiners tips, and lots more - make the most of them!

  2. Use a variety of resources

    For example, to practice your listening skills, don’t just use past papers - try listening to news and weather forecasts in the target language, along with podcasts and YouTube videos! Some great French and Spanish resources are @coffeebreakspanish and @frenchpod

  3. Vocab, vocab, vocab

    I cannot stress the importance of having a wide knowledge of useful vocabulary in the target language enough! It will help with every paper, from speaking to listening, and varied vocabulary will push you up through those grade boundaries! Have a vocab book where you note down any new words you come across, and test yourself on them regularly.

  4. Little and often

    I’m a strong believer that when it comes to languages, cumulative learning is best. This means that studying in shorter, more focused bursts works best. Take regular breaks, and keep your revision varied by doing a daily mix of vocabulary/grammar/speaking etc. practice, and this will keep your motivation and interest levels high.

  5. The Speaking Exam

    Whilst practicing speaking in the target language with a teacher/friend/tutor is the best way to prepare, recording yourself speaking & listening to it back can be a great revision tactic. 
    It will help you pick up on areas where you can improve your pronunciation, are speaking too quickly, or are making regular grammatical errors. Nobody likes the sound of their own voice, but it can help you aim for success!

  6. The Listening Exam

    The best way to prepare for the listening exam is daily practice! Even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes, take time to do a concentrated period of listening, and use a variety of resources. This could be a podcast in the target language, a news or weather broadcast, or even a YouTube video! Be sure to write down any new words you hear, and that way you can expand your vocabulary while you listen!

  7. Reading

    When it comes to the reading portion of your exam, there are two ways you can best prepare. Firstly, make sure you have a wide knowledge of vocabulary, as this will allow you to understand and interpret the information given to you. Secondly, read a variety of source materials in the target language when revising. This could be anything from online news articles to poetry - the more diverse the materials are, the more effective your revision will be! 

  8. Writing

    For the written section of your exam, the two main areas to focus on are tenses and vocab. 
    Make sure you are comfortable with all the main tenses in the target language, and that you have a wide knowledge of vocabulary. You can use sites such as @quizlet to create your own vocabulary lists and tests! Finally, be sure to leave time in the exam to CHECK YOUR WORK! This is crucial, as it will help you to pick up on potential errors you may have made.

  9. Take a break!

    I know this is said a lot when it comes to revision, but it bears repeating. Make sure you take regular breaks during your revision. Working to the point of exhaustion or frustration will not be beneficial, and taking some time to get some fresh air or exercise will allow you to come back to your work refreshed and focused 

  10. Current Affairs

    Firstly, reading or watching the news in your target language will develop your listening and reading skills. Secondly, especially for the A-Level orals, you will need to show that you have background knowledge of current affairs related to topics such as politics and immigration in order to reach the top marks. You can watch news broadcasts online, or read a variety of online newspapers in the target language to enhance your knowledge and practice your language skills! 

Most importantly of all, prepare as well as you can and just do your best - that’s all anyone can ask of you. Good luck!