GCSE Spanish Speaking Exam AQA


In this post we are going to talk about the GCSE Spanish Speaking Exam AQA and how to get a higher grade.

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

You can see the following video about the GCSE Speaking Exam (AQA and EDEXCEL boards). It explains the exam structure and then focuses on the Photo Card task, but more videos will follow. We are publishing videos about exam topics and tips in our website and in youtube, so don’t forget to suscribe.

Introduction GCSE Spanish Exam: 4 papers and 2 Tiers

The GCSE Spanish exam AQA consists of 4 different parts (papers), each one on a different skill:

  • Listening – Paper 1
  • Speaking – Paper 2
  • Reading – Paper 3
  • Writing – Paper 4

The tests take place in different days and each of them is 25% worth of the total AQA GCSE Spanish Score.

Students will take one tier which can be either Foundation or Higher. This means that all the skills/papers will be tested according to the same tier e.g. Foundation or Higher. The Foundation exam is less demanding than the Higher one but the maximum grade you can get is only 5 out of 9. The Higher tier will grade you from 0 to 9.

Speaking is the first test you will take, and will take place in your school during several days as the teacher will need to test one student at the time. The teacher will tell you the date and time for your test, probably about two weeks in advance of the rest of your exams.

The teacher conducts and records the exam as mp3 files. The board (AQA) marks the exam.  

The recording will not stop or pause during the whole speaking exam. If there are technical issues, the student can resit the test during the same period using different cards.

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

1. How does the scoring system work for the Spanish GCSE AQA exam?

2. What does the GCSE Spanish speaking test consist of?

3. How long is the Spanish speaking test and how many marks is each part of the test worth?

4. How does the GCSE Spanish speaking test work, step by step?

5. How do I score marks in the GCSE Spanish speaking test?

1. How does the scoring system work for the Spanish GCSE AQA exam?

Spanish GCSE is not the only subject were grades are assigned depending on the performance of all the students taking the exam in the same board in the same year. A grade boundary is the minimum mark required to achieve certain grade. We will soon write about how they are calculated.

Herewith you can check the grade boundaries set for year 2019, AQA Spanish Exam:

How should we understand these scores?

The maximum exam score is 240 marks (60 marks x 4 papers).

For example, last June 2019, a 9 was awarded for 205 marks or over. A grade 7 was awarded for 158 to 180 marks, and so on….

A pass in Foundation Tier would be 144 marks (163 would be a strong pass). A weak pass in Higher Tier would be 100 marks out of the 240.

2. What does the GCSE Spanish Speaking Exam consist of?

The speaking paper has three parts:

  1. The role play
  2. The photo card
  3. The General conversation (2 different themes). The student chooses the first theme, the second theme is the left over theme which has not been chosen by the student nor used in the photo card.

The teacher introduces in Spanish each part of the speaking exam. This could sound as follow:

  • Empezaremos con el role-play
  • Y ahora el photo card
  • Empezamos ahora la conversación con el tema…..
  • Y ahora vamos a hablar del segundo tema ….

3. How long is the Spanish speaking test and how many marks is each part of the test worth?

Again, it depends on the tier:

speaking-gcse-spanish-time-minutes-marks-foundation-higher-role play-photo card-general conversation

4. How does the GCSE Spanish speaking test work, step by step?

  • First the teacher gives you one photo card and one role play card and a blank page. Remember that you are not allowed any books, dictionaries, etc. with you.
  • You have 12 minutes of preparation time in order to study and prepare both tasks. Make the most on taking notes on the blank page you have been given. There is no restriction about how many notes or the kind of notes you may write.
  • The examiner-teacher will turn on the recording and talk first. He/she will have to give your personal details and other necessary data the boards needs for him/her to mention.
  • Then the examiner-teacher will start saying “we are going to start with the role play” (in Spanish). The role play will take 2 minutes maximum.
  • Then he/she will introduce the photo card in a similar way and the task will take 2 minutes for foundation and 3 for Higher maximum. Any more info on the recording after the 2/3 minutes won’t be taken into account.
  • During the role play and photo card tasks you are able to keep the cards and the blank page with your notes.
  • After finishing the photocard, you hand all the papers to the teacher/examiner.
  • Then, the teacher/examiner will introduce theme 1 of the conversation and later theme 2. Pay attention to the maximum time allowed.
  • Then the test will be finished.

5. How do I score points in the GCSE Spanish speaking test?

We are going to summarise here the key objectives and process of the exam. In order to work more deeply through each part of the exam I encourage you to read more material from the GCSE exam section coming soon, about the role play, photo cards and  conversation. These resources talk about each part of the speaking exam, explaining what to do and say, applying the “PALMOW technique” and the “I do not know what to say”.

Source: https://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/spanish/specifications/AQA-8698-SP-2016.PDF

GCSE Spanish Speaking Exam AQA: Role play (2 minutes, 15 marks)

You are going to have a card where a fiction situation is going to take place. You might be buying some tickets to the cinema, booking an excursion, etc.

The situation is detailed at the begining of the card in English Language. So, I strongly recommend to read all through the card when you are preparing the role play and also to underline the key words.

There are 5 tasks ((bullets) during the role play. 3 tasks are instructions to buy something, etc.. and will have tips of what to ask about that you must understand. For example: “entradas – ¿cuántas?” will mean that you must try to buy tickets to the cinema and you must say how many you want.

It is important that you understand what you are meant to do and that you know how to ask questions and answer questions. As well as to understand the key vocabulary involved.

The 4º task will be an exclamation mark “!”which means that the teacher will say or ask something you didn’t know during the preparation time.

The 5º task will have an interrogation mark “?” and will be a question you need to ask the teacher about the roleplay scenario.

The five bullets or tasks in the role play may not be in that order. This means, the question you have to ask may be on the third bullet and not on the 5th bullet.

The role play will state if you need to address the teacher “tú” or “usted” (formal or informal way). 

Rules of roles play
  • The teacher is given an script she must follow.
  • In some tasks the role play may state “un detalle” o “dos detalles”. I recommend you give only the amount of information you are asked for (1 or 2 details). You won’t know how many details you must include in the surprise task “!”, you might use 2 just in case.
  • The teacher can repeat the question if you give no answer or you ask him/her to repeat the question in Spanish. For example: ¿puede repetir la pregunta?
  • If your answer is not correct the teacher can not repeat the question. 
  • It is acceptable for you to you give an incorrect answer and then self-correct. 
  • It is acceptable that if you didn’t give as many details as requested your teacher would ask you “¿algo más?” (anything else?).
  • If you completed the task and you are about to give more information, the teacher might interrupt and move on.

Herewith you can check what will be cosidered in the mark scheme. Basically in the role play, you must be able to carry out the task and deliver the message or the question, whereas showing a good use of the language:

Source: https://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/spanish/specifications/AQA-8698-SP-2016.PDF

Check this post and video to learn more about how to face the role play section of the exam and listen to some examples:

Role play Higher Tier

GCSE Spanish Speaking Exam AQA: Photo card (2 minutes foundation/ 3 minutes higher, 15 marks)

In the photo card you are given in the preparation time, you will find the photo and 3 questions. The 1º question is always “qué hay en la foto”, we explain it in this post and video: link.

  • 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 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 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.

For the photocard you should respond using opinion and past, present and future tense.

Only communication is assessed. Herewith you can see how the examiner will chose how many marks you deserve:

Source: https://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/spanish/specifications/AQA-8698-SP-2016.PDF

Check this post and video to learn more about how to face the conversation section of the exam:

GCSE Spanish Speaking Exam AQA: Conversation  (3-5 minutes foundation/ 5-7 minutes higher, 15 marks)

The teacher will conduct a conversation on the 2 themes. The first one is the one the student has chosen, the second one is the theme left (after using the chosen one and the theme on the photocard).

You must make questions, answer questions, develop a conversation explaining different situations, referring to the past, future, etc. using complex structures and being spontaneous. 

We have a post/video explaining what kind of phrases and aspects will give you marks in this part of the speaking exam.

Please leave a comment or write to us howtounlockspanish@gmail.com if we may help or update this article to improve it.

Source/fuente: https://filestore.aqa.org.uk/resources/spanish/specifications/AQA-8698-SP-2016.PDF

Check this post and video to learn more about how to face the conversation section of the exam:

Check this video with 3 questions and answers: general conversation in the past tense:

You can also check this useful video answering questions about how to describe in the present, past, future and conditional (my ideal….., my dream……) with a lot of examples across different topics:

Please share !

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Aloma

    Hi, thank you for this really informative site, we wanted to look into taking the Spanish exam for my 15 year old.

    Do you know where could we take the spanish exam as an external candidate in Andalucia, Malaga area.

    1. howtounlockspanish@gmail.com

      Thank you for your message. Exam centres are easier to find for Pearson Edexcel GCSE. You can find these in Malaga: https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/support/support-topics/understanding-our-qualifications/find-a-pearson-centre.html?Country=Spain&City=Malaga&QualificationFamily=Edexcel
      you need to book the exam earlier in the year.
      I hope this helps, sorry this comment did not pop up earlier on our website.
      We do prepare private candidates for the exam, you can contact us infohowtounlockspanish@gmail.com
      Even if you want few lessons to practice the speaking and learn exam technique
      If she is doing AQA GCSE you can try sending an email here eos@aqa.org.uk

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