How Do You Study for the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam?
The AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam is in your future!
As you start thinking about life after high school and college options, AP classes often become a hot topic. How many should you take? Which ones should you take?
If you have already taken Spanish in your freshman and sophomore year, taking the AP Spanish language and culture exam could be an easy 5 for you—if you have the right study tools.
What Is the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam?
All AP exams are a way to assess how much you have learned and retained in a certain subject throughout your high school years.
The AP Spanish language and culture exam more specifically focuses on your written, verbal, and auditory Spanish skills.
Many schools have advanced Spanish classes for juniors and seniors that focus the entire year on preparing for the exam. However, you can still take the AP Spanish language and culture exam whether you took the AP class or not.
Why Should I Take the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam?
AP exams have a reputation for being extremely hard, which scares away some potential students. However, there are plenty of great reasons to take the AP Spanish language and culture exam.
You gain exposure to new cultures.
Since Spanish is such a widely-spoken language, studying Spanish will teach you about people and traditions from over 20 countries and territories around the world.
You prepare yourself for world travels.
With this new knowledge about Spanish language and culture, you will be able to travel to numerous countries. If you want to do a study abroad program or take a gap year to travel, the AP Spanish class and exam will prepare you for the cross-cultural experience.
You earn college credit.
Of course, we can’t forget to mention that the AP Spanish language and culture exam can give you college credit.
Getting College Credit for High School Spanish
Taking the AP Spanish exam is just one of many ways to get college credit. Let’s see what your options are!
1. AP Exam
The AP Spanish language and culture is graded on a scale of 1 to 5. While most colleges and universities need to see at least a 3, preferably a 4, on the exam, some more elite institutions require a 5 to offer credit for the exam.
2. Regular Spanish Classes
Some colleges will grant you credit just with your regular high school Spanish classes. You can use them to skip ahead to the right level in college or opt out of some mandatory classes.
3. Homeschool Spanish Academy
Another way to get Spanish credit is to study the language online with the Homeschool Spanish Academy. While we don’t offer AP Spanish classes, you can get a transcript for every semester of high school Spanish you take with us, which can transfer to credits in college.
Tips on How to Study for the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam
Before we get to the studying tips, let’s go over the structure of the exam. There are four sections, two focused on multiple choice and two for free response.
Structure of the Exam
- Section 1A: 30 multiple choice questions, 40 minutes in length
- Section 1B: 35 multiple choice questions from audio, 55 minutes in length
- Section 2A: 2 written free response questions, 1 hour and 10 minutes in length
- Section 2B: 2 spoken free response questions, 18 minutes in length
As you can see, the AP Spanish language and culture exam covers every part of the language, from speaking to writing. The last two sections are each worth 25% of the final grade. The first section is 23% while the second is worth 27% of your grade.
How to Study
The division of grammar, speaking, listening, and writing is fairly equal, so here are some tips to practice all of these areas.
1. Practice Your Task Verbs
One of the most important things to practice is understanding the AP test questions. If you don’t understand what the question is asking, it is very easy to get confused or put an incorrect answer.
These verbs are especially important in the free-response sections, as just a slight misunderstanding can cost you points, even if your answer is well-written.
Here are some common Spanish task verbs in the infinitive and tú command form.
2. Focus on All Areas of Communication
The AP Spanish exam doesn’t just focus on written communication skills, every type of language communication.
This type of communication occurs between various people, either through written or spoken language. The key to fluency in Spanish interpersonal communication is feeling comfortable expressing your ideas and understanding others.
Don’t focus on getting every detail of the language correct, but on expressing yourself. Watch Spanish movies, listen to how others interact, engage in Spanish conversations, and try practicing everything you year.
With interpretive communication, you focus on understanding written and spoken Spanish. Practice listening and reading anything in Spanish you can get your hands on. An extra plus would be finding resources with comprehension questions to help you interpret the language.
Make sure you look up any information you don’t understand, and keep a journal of new words and sentence structures.
Presentational communication is how you present your information to other people. Use everything that you’ve learned in your interpretive Spanish studies and practice them with presentational communication.
Try writing down your ideas first before saying them, then practice conversing in Spanish on your own, fine-tuning your presentation skills.
3. Get Some Practice Books
There are several practice books that focus explicitly on the AP Spanish exam. If you want to gain experience with the type of questions you will see on the exam, try Barron’s AP Spanish Language and Culture test preparation book.
For some extra grammar review, consider the book Una vez más, which goes over every grammar topic you can imagine.
4. Practice with Spanish Media
Preparing for the Spanish exam can be extremely stressful and overwhelming as you try and memorize all the grammar elements. However, reading practice books and practicing conversations are the only things you can do to study.
Enjoy Spanish entertainment! Check out Spanish YouTube videos, movies, social media, and TV shows. Hearing all the spoken Spanish will give you a great idea of how native speakers use the language and interact with each other. It can give you a much deeper understanding of Spanish than a regular Spanish class.
5. Immerse Yourself in the Spanish Language
Take every opportunity you can to experience and practice Spanish. As the date of the test draws near, you can set some guidelines for yourself like only speaking in Spanish for several hours at a time.
Try seeking native Spanish-speakers to talk with and practice your language skills, or engage in mock Spanish conversations with your classmates.
6. Don’t Focus as Much on Spelling
While spelling is very important, especially when it means the difference between words like a and ha, don’t stress too much about remembering every last accent mark on the written portion.
The graders will consider your spelling, but they will focus more on your ability to express your ideas. As you’re writing, focus more on clearly expressing your ideas, organizing your thoughts, and using consistent tenses.
7. Expand Your Vocabulary
The wonderful thing about language is that you can always expand your vocabulary – even in English!
As you are practicing your Spanish communication, take note of words you constantly repeat, like bueno, me gusta, or importante. Look up synonyms for these words to give more variety to your spoken and written Spanish.
You can also sign up for Spanish word of the day emails to expand our vocabulary. Make sure to keep track of every new word you use and try to apply them in conversation.
8. Make Some Conjugation Charts
While grammar probably isn’t your favorite topic, it’s vital to ensure that you are consistently using the correct tense and form of the verbs.
Make some charts for the verbs you will most commonly use, like the present simple, past simple, and future. Use the charts to practice the conjugations, and once you feel you have mastered them, add in more advanced tenses like the present perfect and subjunctive.
Don’t try to tackle them all at once. Just having 3 or 5 tenses can let you communicate clearly.
9. Track Your Weakest Areas
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Take note of where you stumble in your conversations or what tenses you always forget, and spend some extra time focusing on those areas.
For example, if you always struggle with the differences between por and para, take some time to review examples, watch an explanation video, and talk to your teacher. Put into practice what you learn to make sure the new information stays in your long-term memory.
10. Practice Tests
What better way to study for the AP Spanish exam than taking practice tests? You will familiarize yourself with the style of the questions and make sure you can complete each section in the allotted time.
You can find practice tests online or with the Barron’s AP Spanish book. Take a practice test at the beginning of your studying journey, then a few more as you get closer to the test date. Track your improvement and look for any weak areas.
Another great tool is timing yourself as you go through the questions. Make sure you can complete the test in the giving time. Don’t spend too long on one difficult question, but complete everything you know first, then use the extra time to complete the harder questions.
11. Make a Game out of Studying
Studying for an AP test – especially if you have multiple ones coming up – can be tedious and tiresome. You can easily get bogged down in grammatical details and fill your mind with so much information that you don’t remember the basics.
If you start to feel the pressure, take some time off from studying, then turn the exercises into a game. You can make flashcards and start a game of memory, or you can organize a Jeopardy tournament with your classmates to test each other’s Spanish skills.
12. Ask a Teacher
Your Spanish teacher is one of your greatest resources as you prepare for the AP Spanish language and culture exam. If you are struggling with a topic or want extra speaking practice, talk to your teacher.
You can even set up a weekly meeting with them to go over difficult subjects and practice Spanish conversation.
If you don’t have a Spanish teacher, sign up for some classes with one of Homeschool Spanish Academy’s incredible teachers. They would be more than happy to answer all your questions and help improve your conversational fluency.
13. Pace Yourself
Make sure you don’t feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of information you need to study. Create a study plan for yourself and stick to it. Remember, you don’t need to comprehend every part of the Spanish language in the first month of studying. Set goals and give yourself some type of reward when you meet those goals.
14. Familiarize Yourself with the Topics
Last but not least, study the right Spanish topics for the test. They are as follows:
- Los desafíos mundiales (Global Challenges)
- La ciencia y la tecnología (Science and Technology)
- La vida contemporánea (Contemporary Life)
- Identidades personales y público (Personal and Public Identities)
- Las familias y las comunidades (Families and Communities)
- La belleza ya la estética (Beautify and Aesthetics)
These themes will most apply to the open-ended questions, but don’t be surprised if you see these themes pop up in the multiple choice parts as well.
As you look for Spanish resources, look for videos and TV shows that discuss some of these topics. Try and repeat the words and phrases they use to talk about these topics, and use them in your spoken and written Spanish.
Practice for the Exam!
You’re now ready to start studying for the exam on your own! Take some time to organize a study plan for yourself and apply all of these tips.
If you want someone to practice, sign up for a free trial class with one of the teachers at Homeschool Spanish Academy! Not only will they give you plenty of excellent Spanish conversation practice, but they can also answer any of your questions and explain complex grammatical topics.
See for yourself how these classes can be beneficial, and prepare for your 5 on the AP Spanish language and culture exam!
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