A-level Modern Foreign Languages exams and revision: AQA explains what you need to do

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Our series on exam advice continues with tips from AQA on A-level Modern Foreign Languages

To help you make the most of your remaining revision time, we’ve worked with exam board AQA to create a series of exam advice articles.

In each of these features, you’ll find advice and easy-to-follow tips written by one of AQA’s subject matter experts.

Read on to get the inside track on A-level Modern Foreign Languages, direct from the people who make the exams.


AQA logo byline
AQA logo byline

Before the exam

  • Do approach the exam calmly – be relaxed
  • Don’t neglect listening and reading revision – practise it
  • Do revise your vocabulary – keep it topped up
  • Don’t miss out the little words – learn to spot them
  • Do study different types of question – be prepared
  • Don’t leave out or try to predict topics – be thorough
  • Do learn to recognise distractors – be aware
  • Don’t expect to understand everything – be realistic

During the exam

Paper 1 summary tasks

  • Do read or listen to the passage all the way through the first time - then read or listen again, pausing to make notes on each bullet point
  • Do look at the number of points available for each bullet and make sure you identify enough pieces of information
  • Do keep content points relevant to the task outline – don’t include detailed examples unless you’re specifically asked for these in the bullet points.
  • Don’t waste words on unnecessary introductory sentences
  • Do write the summary in sentences and keep to the 90-word limit
  • Don’t waste time finding alternatives for individual words in the source text – the language marks are for manipulating language and structures, not for finding synonyms

Paper 1 translation tasks

  • Do read the original carefully
  • Don’t paraphrase – stick as closely as possible to the meaning of the original
  • Do check that what you’ve written makes sense in English in the translation from the target language
  • Don’t leave bits out
  • Do check in the translation from English that verb forms are correct, with tenses and endings changed from the source passage as necessary

Paper 2 essays

  • Don’t spend too long deciding which of the two questions to answer - make a choice within about 30 seconds
  • Do plan your essay – a detailed plan makes for a better essay so spend up to 25 minutes planning each essay
  • Don’t start writing the essay straightaway
  • Do unlock the question, identifying the key elements and considering the relevant evidence that you can refer to from the book or film
  • Do use these key elements to determine the paragraphing of your essay
  • Do decide how you’re going to react to the statement in questions that ask things like ‘to what extent do you agree with this judgement?’ Do remember that you can both agree and disagree with such statements
  • Don’t write long introductions and conclusions – keep them short and succinct
  • Do plan the content of the paragraphs in the target language
  • Do make sure you answer the specific question set and not the one you did in class
  • Don’t run out of time – spend 20-25 minutes planning, 30 minutes writing the essay and 5-10 minutes reading it through and checking it


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Good luck from AQA

AQA believes everyone has the potential to achieve, and we make sure our qualifications give all students the opportunity to show what they can do and progress to the next stage of their lives.

Our subject experts worked with The Student Room so we can reach as many students as possible with advice on how to approach your revision and exams. We wish you well in the weeks ahead, and don’t forget to look after yourselves too: eat well, sleep well and tell someone how you’re feeling if there are days when things don’t go so well or you don’t feel so good.

 Good luck!