I’ve loaded this up with links to previous posts that I hope will be helpful. It is a random selection of last minute thoughts and includes (point 4) my suggestions for timing for Higher Level.
- Read the entire exam before putting pen to paper! I don’t for one second mean read the comprehensions through, I mean:
- scan each comprehension so you know what each topic is.
- check out the essay title and while doing that perhaps write down your standard opening/closing or your lovely phrase that you’re going to use.
- skim through the dialogue – pen in hand – and make quick notes over words when you see a verb form you know, a word you need to remember, a word you remember right then.
- check what’s coming up in the diary entry and note.
- now go back to the start and get stuck in.
(I don’t mention the formal letter as I don’t tend to recommend it to my students, though of course it can be a good option for some).
2. Do the exam in the order in which you come to it ie long comprehension, two short comprehensions, long comprehension. Now you have lots of Spanish in your head and you’re ready to wow them in the essay/opinion piece/link question (different name, same thing), then after the essay you can relax now into the dialogue and then the diary entry/note.
Within the long comprehensions, my personal preference is to do the synonyms first. It means you have to skim the piece looking for the words specified, so while you’re doing that task, you’re starting to soak up what the text is about.
For long comprehension B (the one with the essay title), my personal preference is to answer questions in this order:
1, 3 (synonyms), 2 (translation), 4 (comprehension).
Why? Well, I’ve explained the synonyms. Very often there’s overlap between 2 and 4. And by the time you get to 4, you’ve already worked quite closely with the text, so you might have some idea of where the answers to questions are (remember, in that second long comprehension, they don’t tell you where the answers are). Usually (usually – this is not a golden rule) the answers are first third, second third, third third of the text. If that doesn’t hold, the second one will usually (again, with that caveat) start after where you found the answer to the first question etc. There is often some overlap of one point, but the main body of the answers will work like that.
3. You have to answer these questions in detail!! But don’t give too much detail! It’s such a fine line. Think very carefully – this goes for the Listening especially – both about what is being asked AND what is NOT being asked. A little time today with a comprehension (either reading or listening) and the marking scheme could help you think about that.
4. Timing. Don’t go over it! And don’t leave early! Take your time, read the questions carefully, leave yourself time to go back and fill in gaps, and it is essential that you do a re-read of your written work to engage in plenty of auto-correction. Here are my tips for Exam timing LC HL (Leaving Cert Higher Level).
5. Be calm! I know – so much easier said than done. The other day my mother attended a talk by Professor Ian Robertson of Trinity who’s a lecturer on Psychology in Trinity College Dublin. He has a new book out called The Stress Test. She was sharing something he had shared about the symptoms of stress being very close to the signs of excitement. So – he went on – a way of getting past/through/over the stressful moment you’re facing, is to clench your right fist and and mentally view the stressful event as something exciting ie something positive. I don’t know the science behind it (the book is on my list to read!) but here are a few scenarios where I think it would work:
- Not AAAGH I’m going to fail this exam, but rather, fist clench this exam is a chance for me to show off what I know!
- Not OMG I’m so nervous about this interview, but rather, fist clench this is an opportunity for me to show these people that I’m the perfect person for this job/college course!
- Not What the hell, I’ll never win this race, but rather, fist clench this is going to be fantastic – I’m racing because I love it, and now’s my chance to shine!
It might sound trite, but I’ve been thinking about it and I really feel it could help me, so why not you, tomorrow?
So mañana se acerca – go out there, enjoy it, do it, show off! Put everything you have into it! For lots of you – I know, not all – it’s your last exam! Be the best you can be – en español!