Are you new to teaching AP Spanish Language and Culture? The AP Spanish Exam looms in May, and it can be intimidating and confusing for teachers as they try to plan how to prepare their students. Many of us feel a lot of pressure to make sure our students get good scores. Six college credits are riding on this one experience!
The first step is to be sure you understand the parts of the AP Spanish Exam and how they are scored. But keep reading: this month there will be a series of 4 posts about the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam!
AP Spanish Exam: Part 1 MCQ
MCQ stands for multiple choice questions. The AP Spanish Exam breaks these questions into 3 parts.
Part A is Print. Students will have to read and answer multiple choice questions that have 4 choices. The print that they read can be anything from a short article, an interview, an ad, a graph or an excerpt from a longer piece of writing. Students will have about 30 questions (but the number of texts may be different each year) and will complete this section in about 40 minutes.
Part B combines reading and listening. Students are first given time to read the included text, and then they will hear a related audio source. The audio will be played 2 times. After the audio is played the first time, they will have 1 minute to begin answering the questions. After it is played the 2nd time, they will have 15 seconds per question to answer. Students will see questions that ask just about the print, just about the audio, and then questions that require understanding of both.
Part C is audio only. Students will hear each audio source 2 times. Students are given time to read the instructions and skim the questions, and then the same process as above is followed with the timing for questions.
Students have about 55 minutes to answer 35 questions in sections B and C.
AP Spanish Exam: Scoring of MCQ
The MCQ section of the exam counts for 50% of their overall score. Students do not need to get all questions right to earn a 5.
AP Spanish Exam: Open-Ended Section
The AP Spanish Exam also wants to find out what students can do when they are producing language. There are 4 parts to the open-ended section of the AP Spanish Exam. Each part is worth 12.5%, so even though the time it takes to complete these parts is vastly different, they are all equal in terms of importance.
Students will have 15 minutes to read an email and reply to it. In my experience, the letter is always formal, so students must learn the words for Dear and an appropriate formal way to sign off. In their answer, they must be sure to answer any questions they were asked in the original email with detail and also ask a follow up question. This section of the AP Spanish Exam combines reading comprehension and writing skills. The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is the short time frame. With practice, students usually do very well on this section!
In this section of the AP Spanish Exam, students are given a question. They must demonstrate their knowledge of any place in the Spanish-speaking world by answering the question and comparing their answers to their own culture. Students have 4 minutes to prepare and take notes on what they would like to say, and 2 minutes to record their answer.
This section is challenging because there is no way to know what the topic will be. Students will need to be creative at times, and they will need to be very familiar with the outline of this task. Students need to have an introduction, mention the 2 places they’re comparing, offer some points of comparison, and have a conclusion. Again, with practice, getting the timing of this section right is much easier.
In the Simulated Conversation, students participate in a conversation with a recorded person. They are provided a guide so they have a general idea of who they are talking to and why. They will also be guided as to what the person will say and what the student should say or ask. Each time the student responds to what they hear, they have 20 seconds to speak. This section of the AP Exam tests a student’s ability to understand what they hear and respond in speech appropriately.
The Argumentative Essay is the most involved part of the open-ended section. Students are given time to read the theme of the essay and 2 print sources. Almost always, the first print source is a short article and the 2nd print source is a chart or a graph. The 3rd source is always an audio source. Students can take notes while they read/listen.
Then students must write a 5 paragraph essay in which they take a stance on the presented issue. They must defend their stance by using quotes or paraphrases from each source at least once. Students have a grand total of 60 minutes to read, listen, plan and write. The time goes by very quickly, and in my experience, students need a lot of practice with this kind of writing to get the format correct and to stay within their time limit.
Resources For AP Exam Prep
I have been teaching AP Spanish Language and Culture for years, and I have done my fair share of stumbling through the process of preparing my students. Below are things I’ve created over the years that have made life FAR easier for my students and for me! I hope they can be of help to others!