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How to Survive & Thrive in AP Spanish
Monday, September 28, 2015

AP Spanish is the plateau (or meseta!) of classroom Spanish learning.  Not to be confused with AP Spanish Literature, AP Spanish Language and Culture is a rigorous course that challenges students to converse and write fluently in Español.  

We consulted with teachers, tutors, and recent AP Spanish students to come up with four very useful tips--two “how to survive” tips to help you achieve a score of 3 on the AP exam, and two “how to thrive” tips to help you earn a 4 or even a 5.  Here they are:

How to Survive:

1. Have a basic understanding of the many grammatical concepts—both elementary and complex—that the Spanish language is composed of, including conjugation rules for verbs, gender/number rules for nouns, and structure rules for different types of clauses (i.e. si clauses). Although some of these rules may seem incredibly simple, they are the basis of Spanish. So, to master the language, you must understand and review them. Do not rely solely on your memory of previous years of Spanish to bring your grammar to the AP level—many of these small details are easily forgotten, so make sure to review all of the grammar that you have learned thus far thoroughly.

2. Be able to speak, read, write, and listen at a basic level; all of these skills are central to the curriculum of the class and are ultimately tested on the AP exam. In order to get through this course, you must be comfortable in all these areas. The amount of work that you put into honing these skills will determine your success. To merely survive the course, significantly less effort is necessary than if you are working to thrive and succeed. To work on these areas, you can go online to find a Spanish article and translate it, write about it, and then converse about it in Spanish with someone you know who is also familiar with the language.

How to Thrive:

1. Learn vocabulary that pertains to the six central themes of the AP Spanish Language and Culture curriculum. As stated on the College Board website, these are 1) Beauty and Aesthetics, 2) Contemporary Life, 3) Families and Communities, 4) Global Challenges, 5) Personal and Public Identities, and 6) Science and Technology. In the free response section the knowledge of such vocabulary will be invaluable, and will definitely assist you in getting that 5 on the AP exam. So that it does not become about cramming vocabulary at the end of the year, you should set aside a certain amount of time every week to learning vocabulary—it will definitely pay off.

2. Regularly practice the various activities that are featured on the AP exam in the exact form that you will see on the test: multiple choice questions that stem from written and audio sources, an email reply, a persuasive essay, a simulated conversation, and a 2-minute oral presentation. Some sample questions can be found online, specifically on the College Board website. Your teacher can also serve as a great place to get more practice questions. The only way to get better at these activities is to constantly practice them, so you should devote time to improving your skills in these areas.

Buena suerte!