AQA GCSE Spanish Photo Card

5 things you should do to get a top grade in the AQA GCSE Spanish Photo Card

In this post we are going to talk about how to get a higher grade in the AQA Board GCSE Spanish Photo Card task, within the Spanish Speaking Exam.

You can watch this video to understand how the Speaking exam works, marks, timings, and how you can face the Photo Card task in order to get top marks.

If you are a UK school student and you are taking the AQA GCSE Spanish exam soon, don’t miss our section GCSE Spanish to find out more tips and useful resources.

Introduction to the AQA GCSE Spanish Photo Card

The GCSE Spanish exam AQA and Edexcel, consists of 4 different parts (papers), each one on a different skill. Speaking is one of these 4 parts, and it is called Paper number 2. As the other papers, Paper 2(speaking) weights 25% of the total Spanish GCSE.

To learn more about the Speaking exam in general, click here.

The speaking exam is conducted by the teacher who records the Speaking exam as a mp3 file. The board marks the exam.  

There are 3 different parts in the Speaking exam + preparation time :

  • Preparation time
  • First: role play
  • Second: photo card
  • Third: General conversation including two different parts (2 themes)

AQA Board: You can see in this image that the Photo Card is 15 marks worth and is only 2 minutes long in foundation tier or 3 minutes long in higher tier.


Now, let’s dive in how to approach the Photo Card task in particular.

GCSE Spanish Speaking Exam AQA: Photo card (2 minutes foundation/ 3 minutes higher, 15 marks out of total 60 in the Speaking exam)

  • The teacher will ask you the question ¿qué hay en la foto? or something similar asking for the description of the photo.
  • The teacher will ask you then the other 2 questions that you prepared during the preparation time.
  • After that, the teacher will ask 2 more questions you did not know during your preparation time.

Remember the photocard will be on one of the two themes you have not chosen for conversation.

For the photocard you should respond using opinion and past, present and future tense in order to get as many marks as possible.

In order to do your best in the exam, there are 5 things you should do:

TIP Number 1. Preparation time: use it wisely

You will have 12 minutes to prepare the role play and the photo card. You can take notes only on a blanck sheet. You can keep and use the role play, photo card and notes till you finish both the role play and the photo card. Then, you will have to give them to the teacher before you start the general conversation. Therefore, you can read your notes during the role play and the photo card. However, please try to sound natural.

During the preparation use the time wisely: 2 minutes for the role play card and 10 for the Photo Card.

1) Read the photo card from top to bottom.

2) Underline key words anywhere in the card, they might help you in any of the questions.

3) Write a parragraph about ¿qué hay en la photo? as shown in TIP Number 3 ¿qué hay en la foto?

4) Answer the two questions shown on the Photo Card. Anticipate the two other questions as detailed in TIP Number 4.

TIP Number 2. Answer the question, use opinion + 3 tenses

TOP marks= use 3 tenses + opinion + develop (3 clauses). Describe the photo saying 4 things at least (see the TIP Number 3)

1) First answer the question: pay attencion to what they are asking.

2) You may ask “¿puede repetir por favor?”. The teacher may not repear if he/she is not asked to do so.

3) If you make a mistake you may correct the mistake on the go, it is better to self-correct and it is allowed.

4) Use 3 tenses (past, present and future): you only have to pay attention to the questions and answer a past tense question in the past, a present tense in the present and a future tense in the future (you may add conditional and imperfect subjunctive like fuera, tuviera, etc.)

You do not have to answer a question in three different tenses, there is no time. You have to answer each question in the correct tense.

5) Use opinion (own opinion + others opinion) and always justify your opinion with two side justifications. (Pienso que reciclar es bueno porque…..pero…….).

6) Anticipate the 2 questions not shown in the photo card.

TIP Number 3. You can master the first question easily with the PALMOW tecnique.

There are 5 questions in the Photo Card. The first question will always be ¿qué hay en la foto?. You can master this question by using the PALMOW Tecnique as explained in our post and video ¿qué hay en la foto? You can suscribe for free to our website and have the PALMOW sheet you sent to you completely free. Please send us an email to and request the PALMOW guide after you suscribe.

See this video that explains how to answer to “describe la foto” and works out two examples:

TIP Number 4. Anticipate the two questions not shown in the Photo Card

We can only try to anticipate key aspects and words about the 2 questions not shown in the Photo Cards. But these key aspects can be very helpful when you need to answer questions quickly.

1) TENSES: if the other questions are expressed in the present, you can anticipate the 4th and 5th questions are likely to be in the past and the future + conditional tense. Therefore, you may write down in your preparation time words like “Past: fui, hice, usé, descargué, reciclé….” and “Future: iré, haré, usaré, trabajaré….and Conditional: iría, haría, usaría, trabajaría….”. Depending on the topic.

2) TOPICS: if the topic of the photograph is about environment, you may anticipate the useful words could be “reciclar, prohibir, reusar, ahorrar…..”

Just think about useful words and write them down in different columns: past column, future column, conditional column, topic words column. Hopefully they will be of much help.

TIP Number 5. Be careful with the time

Time depends on the tier: 2 minutes for foundation, 3 minutes for higher.

You must develop the answer but you should not spend too much time in the answer:

  1. Answer the question
  2. Answer every question in the tense you have been asked
  3. Give opinion at least in one of the questions
  4. Use complex structures. Develop the answer using 3 clauses but not more.

For example:

¿Prefieres vivir en el campo o en la ciudad?

Prefiero vivir en la ciudad porque hay muchas cosas que hacer, sin embargo hay muchísimo ruido y contaminación. Por eso, creo que lo mejor sería vivir en las afueras de una ciudad importante.

For the photo card write answers/notes to the prepared questions that are developed well, but not so well that the maximum time may be exceeded. Most (ie three) of the five questions must be developed in order to score in the top band.

Practice, practice, practice

In order to do our best in the exam we need to hit the target mentioned in these tips in 2 or 3 minutes. The only way we can master the Speaking exam is by practice, practice, practice. In this sense, don’t miss our workshops, in which we will go over a lot of examples online in live lesson. We also do one to one lessons which can be one-offs on whatever you need on GCSE. Please check our one to one lessons and the coming workshops her

So, remember, in order to get the best marks possible you must:

  • TIP Number 1. Preparation time: use it wisely
  • TIP Number 2. Answer the question, use opinion + 3 tenses
  • TIP Number 3. You can master the first question easily with the PALMOW tecnique.
  • TIP Number 4. Anticipate the two questions not shown in the Photo Card
  • TIP Number 5. Be careful with the time
  • TIP Number 6. Practice, practice, practice

Continue learning….

To learn more about the ¿qué hay en la foto? click here.

To learn more about the Speaking exam in general click here.

Don’t miss our workshops. We organise group lessons and we go over a lot of examples. Click here to know more.

You can also check which books we recommend in The best GCSE books to learn.

You can learn more about the Spanish GCSE Exam in AQA website link, the source of this post together with the courses, experience and training of our teachers and tutors.

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