GCSE 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 GCSE 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 GCSE languages, direct from the people who make the exams.


AQA logo byline

AQA logo byline

AQA logo byline

Listening and reading exams – golden rules

  • Plan your revision to target the areas you’re less confident about first - but mix it up with aspects and topics you’re stronger on.
  • Revise your vocabulary and make a list of words you find difficult to remember. Keep testing yourself until you know them well.
  • Don’t panic – you’ll know more than you think you do and everyone taking the exams is in the same boat.
  • There will always be questions which are aimed at the top grades, so don’t worry if there are questions you find hard. Just do your best to answer them as well as you can.

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…

  • Do read each question well – check it carefully
  • Don’t rush to give a quick answer – take your time
  • Do listen or read twice before answering – be sure
  • Do follow a given example – it’s there to help
  • Do write all answers legibly – keep it neat
  • Don’t linger over a hard reading question or give up if you get stuck – move on

Writing exams – tips

  • Don’t start writing straight away. Read the introductory rubric and the bullet points carefully. 
  • Think about what the question is asking you to write about and plan your answer so that you cover all of the bullet points. Tick off the bullet points when you’ve addressed them so you’re sure you’ve done so.
  • Make sure you understand which bullet points are targeting the different time frames and opinions in foundation tier question 4 and higher tier questions 1 and 2.
  • Where there are optional questions, read through both questions carefully before deciding which question to answer. Which question will give you the best chance to show off your writing skills?
  • Don’t forget to use a variety of structures and vocabulary to help you get marks for the quality of your language. Complex sentences are simple sentences joined together, so try to make your sentences longer and more complex by using different structures. Using conjunctions can help you add detail to what you write. Make sure you revise them and can use them.
  • Have a good range of adjectives to use in the exam – revise them well to add detail to your answer. 
  • Expressing opinions is an important part of the writing tests. Practise different ways of doing this.
  • Divide your time carefully between the questions, thinking about the suggested word count. Don’t spend so long on one question that you can’t finish the paper.
  • Don’t leave any gaps in the translation. Make an intelligent guess – it might be correct and get you that extra mark.
  • Write neatly – remember examiners can’t mark what they can’t read. Use black ink.
  • Try to write as accurately as possible.
  • Leave time at the end to check your work!

More GCSE languages exam help on TSR


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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!