If you are reading this, you are most likely considering self-studying for this exam. If you are afraid of doing so because you don’t know anything about it, worry not – you are in the right place! Let’s go the entire (fun) process!
Barron’s and the Princeton Review the two most famous editorials that every AP student knows about. They are both pretty good, varying in the way they deliver information and the format they use. My recommendation: go to a store, skim through both of them, and let your instinct decide which one is the best fit for YOU. However, my recommendation is Barron’s AP Spanish Language and Culture Premium primarily because it has 5 full practice tests.
The books are just going to cover basic content of culture and vocabulary, which is not enough to get that 5 you desperately want in the exam; however, they are good sources of practice with a detailed explanation for every answer. The books will also provide you with tips about how to approach each type of question.
Try to simulate the exam situation and use the same timing constraints.
AP Spanish Language exam has two parts:
- Multiple-Choice Section
- Free-Response Section
The Multiple Choice section tests your ability in reading and interpreting text and audio, examining all skills previously mentioned. You would have 95 minutes for both parts of the Multiple Choice exam, 40 minutes for the only printed text part (A) and 55 mins for the other with text and audio combined and separately (B).
Students are given 88 minutes for the free-response questions, which is composed of 4 sections…
- Email Response
- Argumentative Essay
- Cultural Comparison
Practice, practice, and practice. By doing this, you will feel confident in the exam day and you’ll not be intimidated by the questions nor the timing.
Vocabulary is a key part of AP Spanish. Sometimes, not understanding a word or two may cost you that 5 you so desperately want. Although the books, such as Barron’s AP Spanish Language and Culture, cover important grammar, you will need more than good grammar to succeed.
One way to improve vocabulary is by reading; after all, the exam will test your reading abilities. You can go to a library close to you and find a good work of Spanish Literature – keep in mind you do not have to read long novels to learn vocabulary. Works such as “El Principito, ” with a medium-level complexity, will help you improve vocabulary. As you read, identify and define the words you don’t understand and write them down in a sheet of paper, or even better, make a quizlet. That way you will be able to review these words before your exam. Not to mention you can search up previously made quizlets that will help you learn more words.
Although the book will cover some cultural aspects of Hispanic culture, it will never hurt you to know more. Pick a country you can relate to and study its culture in depth. Things such as who are their heroes, what they eat, how they live and where they live may come up in the text. You can study major Hispanic countries, such as Spain and Mexico, or just go with the one you feel more identified with. Watch documentaries, read articles, and watch movies related to that culture.
Another good way to prepare for the exam is by looking at previous exams, which are posted on the College Board website. Reading trough sample answers will help you know what mistakes not to make. Practice speaking conversations, record yourself and make sure to eliminate those “gaps of silence” between words and sentences. Try to speak as fluidly as you can.
The most important thing you need to remember is to pay for your exam on time. The deadline is November 15. I know how stupid this may sound, but it happens. I forgot to pay in on time, and I ended up paying an extra $40 fee. Talk with the AP Coordinator of your high school, or if you are home-schooled, contact any high school close to you that offers AP Spanish so you can take the exam there. Also, talk with your school to know if they do any “practice week” before the exam. For example, my high school offers a “Cram Month” to any student that signs up, in which they cover all the information for every AP the school offers. This may be helpful if any school near you offers it, don’t be afraid of contacting them.
Now that covers the basics of self-studying for the AP Spanish Language & Culture exam in May. From this point onward, your hard work, dedication, and commitment to learn Spanish will carry you throughout your solo journey towards getting that 5. Best of luck!