Gearing up for the AP Spanish exam? Check out these 13 helpful tips from tutor Jason N. to increase your confidence…
Spanish continues to prevail as the second language of the United States. It is also the most frequently studied second language in high schools, colleges, and graduate schools. If you are preparing for the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam, it probably means that your Spanish is already strong, and you are on track to becoming fluent. Congratulations!
This AP Spanish test is designed to measure how well you communicate with others in Spanish, how well you can present, and how well you can interpret (and respond to) what you read and hear. This includes your ability to think critically, your overall fluency, and how accurate your grammar is, especially your ability to form coherent sentences. You should pass if you can comprehend Spanish close to how a native speaker would in many different contexts, most of which come from various Spanish-speaking milieu. The exam also gauges your cultural knowledge of Spanish-speaking countries and peoples.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, bear with me. It may sound daunting, but you can do it! Similar to any standardized or AP test, the key is anxiety management and preparing well in advance. Here are 13 tips that will help you prepare for and defeat the AP Spanish exam:
- Get a Spanish tutor! There are tons of study booklets and materials available to help you practice, but a tutor can help you find the best ones, plus provide tips for helping you organize and channel your time. For a limited time, you can also check out one of TakeLessons’ live, online Spanish classes for free.
- Practice Spanish on mobile applications. These can help make learning fun and dynamic, where textbooks may fail.
- Manage your anxiety! Your fear about bombing the test may become a significant barrier, potentially bigger than the studying and the test’s difficulty itself! Remember, you got this far already. Mindfulness techniques can help — it’s no coincidence that students who believe in their ability to pass usually do.
- Begin studying early — preferably four months before. Our brains absorb information the best when it’s presented relatively briefly but consistent over a large time span, such as 30-60 minutes of studying 3-6 times weekly. This is particularly true of language learning — this is why many Spanish classes are scheduled daily for an hour, whereas non-language classes are often scheduled in two-hour blocks once or twice weekly.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of practice tests. Kaplan and the Princeton Review both offer practice tests online. There are also many practice tests for the AP Spanish exam available for free online.
- Know how to conjugate most verbs, especially the most commonly used ones, like tener, poder, and hablar.
- Know the difference between por and para, ser and estar, and conocer and saber. The multiple choice part, which is half the test, tends to focus on this and is formulaic and straightforward to learn and practice.
- Know the basic formulas of certain grammatical structures, such as superlatives (Él es el más…).
- Know the time tenses, like el imperfecto, perterito, el plusperfecto, condicional, and futuro.
- Know plural and singular, and masculine vs. feminine. I cannot tell you how many people have incorrectly answered certain multiple questions, or were dinged in the writing sections due to a silly mistake here. Remember that many nouns don’t follow the basic rule that nouns ending in -a are feminine and nouns that end in -o are masculine. There are many exceptions to this rule, such as el tema and la mano.
- Keep your general Spanish skills fresh by practicing regularly! Keep in touch with friends you meet from Spanish-speaking countries and practice with people you know who also speak Spanish.
- Watch telenovelas. They can be funny, but corny. If they hook you, they make for great practice!
- Download Pandora and listen to Spanish music on your smartphone. Many of them are catchy and learning the lyrics can give your Spanish a great lift!
In conclusion, you can do it! Systematic and early practice is the key. Set up a consistent study schedule, consult your Spanish tutor for additional study tips and conversation practice, and stay positive!
Need help with additional AP tests? Check out our tips for the:
- AP World History Exam
- AP Environmental Science Exam
- AP Statistics Exam
- AP Calculus Exam
- AP Language and Composition Exam
Jason N. tutors English and Spanish in Fairfax, CA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis, lived in Mexico for 3 years where he completed a Master’s degree in Counseling, and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica. Learn more about Jason here!
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