At my wits end with French A-level- what to do? :'( Watch

member398873
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Basically, I got a U (for both units) in Summer 2011 in French AS.
I got an E in January. (D in the exam, 1 mark off a C and a E in the speaking 3 marks off a D)

I'm so confused. My U in the first sitting was down to a dodgy teacher, me and the other girl in my class had to have a huge meeting with the governors and go over what our lessons entailed. We didn't really know what was expected of us and the teacher who had been marking us as As and Bs all year. It all came out that we weren't taught grammar beyond GCSE level, a single sentence was not an appropriate response to a question the oral exam and it wasn't okay to just leave verbs in the infinitive. I was stunned by my own naivety that I didn't check read the exam spec and make sure I was doing what was expected of me. I couldn't even celebrate my other AS results (AA+Distinction) because of the U.

The teacher was dismissed, it didn't go further because she was clinically depressed- and we were lucky to be graced with a wonderful native speaker. A teacher who was kind, considerate and a harsh marker who promised to improve things for me.

From last years results day to the time of exams- I worked so bloody hard. I did my homework + more and always ensured that I was doing exactly what was expected of me. Me and my teacher decided that my target end of year grade was a C- which I would be so ecstatic with, and we did everything possible to get there.

My teacher who has been an examiner for AQA and Edexcel for 10 years (as well as going on numerous standardisation courses to ensure she's marking correctly) marked me as 39/50 for my oral exam. I was so proud because I really felt that I had put the work in and got what I deserved. The exam was tricky and my writing skills weren't really up to scratch so from looking over the answers after the exam, I got a D- I guesstimated that I would get a C grade overall, which gave me a lot of hope for getting my C at the end of A2.

I felt that A2 was going so well, I knew my cultural topics inside out and I'm making progress every day with my grammar- if anything, I'm finding it much easier than AS level. So yeah- everything was really positive until BANG, RESULTS DAY! And I realised that they had marked my oral exam as an E...giving me an E overall.

What do I need to do to get a C at AS? (and A2 for that matter)....if I got given an E for what I said in my speaking exam, then everyone who gets an A grade must be of native level! I used the subjunctive, a wide range of tenses and vocab, I took the lead and was never at a loss for words- yes, I did sound nervous and I probably made some errors- but there is no way that I am an E grade student.

In fact- in my oral exam, they gave me 3 more marks than last year. When I answered every single question with a one sentence answer and didn't stray from past, future and present tense. I am so confused.

AQA is doing a remark and sending the scripts back- but is there any way that I can get some personal feedback? What on earth am I doing wrong? I made sure I fitted that C grade criteria for my speaking and I tried so bloody hard :'( I need to resit in a few weeks, as well as prepare for my A2 exams and I can't think about it without crying.

EDIT: I'm on AQA btw.

Sorry for the essay, but if anyone could give me a little bit of support, guidance and where to start- it would be so fantastic.
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SmokeRose92
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I did French AS level last year, and dear god it was the bane of my life. I found it incredibly difficult, I really worked hard but no matter what I tried, and how much time I invested I could never really approve above a C and that was pushing it. In the end I got a D for AS and me among some other people who were in my class felt appalled at our marks. My French teacher had me for a mock oral and said he had graded me at a D, I felt really concerned and went away and revised religiously for the real oral, I tried so hard, and when I had finished the real thing my teacher actually said to me that I had improved so much it was like a different person speaking and I had done brilliantly.
Well of course I went off feeling great. Come summer, yeah. E for speaking. I felt disgusted at him for giving me so much false hope and insinuating that the grade of my speaking was a lot higher than it actually was. I was so bitter for ages but I just moved on and re-took. I dropped French for A2 but resat and actually got a D instead of an E, funny because I didn't revise at all, as by that time I hated the language :P but I made my peace and gave up to pursue my other subjects. My point is do you really need French? Is it vital to have towards what you want to do in life? Do you enjoy it? I've been through the crap as well, it's just you have to think hard if at the end of the day it's really worth it.
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member398873
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(Original post by SmokeRose92)
I did French AS level last year, and dear god it was the bane of my life. I found it incredibly difficult, I really worked hard but no matter what I tried, and how much time I invested I could never really approve above a C and that was pushing it. In the end I got a D for AS and me among some other people who were in my class felt appalled at our marks. My French teacher had me for a mock oral and said he had graded me at a D, I felt really concerned and went away and revised religiously for the real oral, I tried so hard, and when I had finished the real thing my teacher actually said to me that I had improved so much it was like a different person speaking and I had done brilliantly.
Well of course I went off feeling great. Come summer, yeah. E for speaking. I felt disgusted at him for giving me so much false hope and insinuating that the grade of my speaking was a lot higher than it actually was. I was so bitter for ages but I just moved on and re-took. I dropped French for A2 but resat and actually got a D instead of an E, funny because I didn't revise at all, as by that time I hated the language :P but I made my peace and gave up to pursue my other subjects. My point is do you really need French? Is it vital to have towards what you want to do in life? Do you enjoy it? I've been through the crap as well, it's just you have to think hard if at the end of the day it's really worth it.
I don't need for university, but I won't be able to just leave it if I don't get a C. It's a personal thing. Getting A*A*AAAAAAABB at GCSE, and As in my other subjects has left me a bit of a perfectionist- I want a good pass in it.
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ElfManiac
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Remark is a good first step.
Now you know what the examiners are asking of you it's a case of practice. Read french. Listen to french. Write french. Talk french.
Write down vocabulary you don't know and learn it.

I would concentrate on the A2 stuff for now - by the time you're ready to sit A2 exams the AS oral will more or less take care of itself.
If you can get hold of some past papers and essay questions that will help you to become more used to the technique.

Find out what your teacher thinks your strengths and weaknesses are with the language and work on those in particular.
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charcharchar
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im in the same position (got a D last year) need a freaking B for uni.. have no idea how to improve... im so bad at it specially oral
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member398873
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(Original post by ElfManiac)
Remark is a good first step.
Now you know what the examiners are asking of you it's a case of practice.
I don't mean to snap, but that was kind of the point of the thread- I don't know what is expected of me. I fufilled all of the criteria for a C grade speaking that comes with the speciman- but it seems like grade boundaries just shot up spectacularly. I'm clueless to what they actually want, I did all that- I lived and breathed French for months and had a really good exam and good feedback from my teachers.

AQA gave me three marks more than last year- when I had no grammar lessons, didn't know how to do tenses and couldn't pronounce for ****. I have come on so much and I'm so much more confident in my French...so I don't really understand it.

What the hell do they want from me?
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Cirsium
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(Original post by ElfManiac)
by the time you're ready to sit A2 exams the AS oral will more or less take care of itself

This is a good bit of advice. At my school, if you were definitely going to take it to A2 they told you not to take the AS exams, and just take them in A2, because you'd find them so much easier then.

I'd tell you to nail the grammar and vocab, but it sounds like you're already doing that. Still, you've got easter break coming up. I spent Easter learning vocab. 10 new words a day. Make yourself a vocab test every single day to force yourself to learn them. Read some French newspapers. Try to memorise interesting words that haven't come up in your syllabus.

The other thing that did wonders for me (if you can find the time to do it) is, whenever we had to do an exercise where it was like Match up Answers A-E and 1-5 about the text or whatever, I didn't just write A1 B5 etc etc. I translated the entire passage, wrote out the sentences in full and translated them too. It was a ***** of a workload, but it turned by D in AS writing into 105/120 in the retake.
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charcharchar
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(Original post by lechaton-x)
I don't mean to snap, but that was kind of the point of the thread- I don't know what is expected of me. I fufilled all of the criteria for a C grade speaking that comes with the speciman- but it seems like grade boundaries just shot up spectacularly. I'm clueless to what they actually want, I did all that- I lived and breathed French for months and had a really good exam and good feedback from my teachers.

AQA gave me three marks more than last year- when I had no grammar lessons, didn't know how to do tenses and couldn't pronounce for ****. I have come on so much and I'm so much more confident in my French...so I don't really understand it.

What the hell do they want from me?
read the specification
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member398873
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(Original post by charcharchar)
read the specification
...do I need to do a TL;DR or is everyone going to still ignore me?

I read the specification, my teacher read the specification. She marked me as a B/C borderline before she sent it off- so how the **** have I got an E?
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yokabasha
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I did French and German AS last year, what I learnt was you need to practice regularly, which you were doing, but it needs to be targeted at the specific topics, and you need to know your tenses inside out putting a variety into each paragraph you speak or write, and remembering whole paragraphs is quite useful for each topic, this is what my mate did, he aced it, he was like a machine just churning out the paragraphs.
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ElfManiac
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(Original post by lechaton-x)
I don't mean to snap, but that was kind of the point of the thread- I don't know what is expected of me. I fufilled all of the criteria for a C grade speaking that comes with the speciman- but it seems like grade boundaries just shot up spectacularly. I'm clueless to what they actually want, I did all that- I lived and breathed French for months and had a really good exam and good feedback from my teachers.

AQA gave me three marks more than last year- when I had no grammar lessons, didn't know how to do tenses and couldn't pronounce for ****. I have come on so much and I'm so much more confident in my French...so I don't really understand it.

What the hell do they want from me?
1. That you answer the question.
2. That you do so using mostly grammatically correct French.
3. That you show a variety and range of expressions and vocabulary.

Point 1. is exam technique. Read the question. Do you understand the question? How many marks/what proportion of the exam is it? If it's a one mark question out of a hundred, a sentence or two will be enough. If it's a whole essay, well, write an essay.

Point 2. is grammar stuff. Make sure you know the present, passé composé, imparfait, futur immédiat (je vais faire...), future, conditional and subjunctive, that you can do past tense agreements with avoir and être. Use appropriate tenses to the question asked.

Point 3. is mostly about vocabulary. Learn connectives for essay writing and for linking points together when speaking - 'en plus', 'cependant'
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Emma:-)
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(Original post by ElfManiac)
Remark is a good first step.
Now you know what the examiners are asking of you it's a case of practice. Read french. Listen to french. Write french. Talk french.
Write down vocabulary you don't know and learn it.

I would concentrate on the A2 stuff for now - by the time you're ready to sit A2 exams the AS oral will more or less take care of itself.
If you can get hold of some past papers and essay questions that will help you to become more used to the technique.

Find out what your teacher thinks your strengths and weaknesses are with the language and work on those in particular.
Yeah- pretty much do this. And if you dont get anywhere with the remark, id definitely resit that exam.
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BeckyIsOptimistic
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I've heard that AQA mark people down if they sound 'too rehearsed' at AS (i.e. too good/like they've memorised answers) which is ridiculous. This could be the case with your oral resit if you're sure you significantly improved on last year.
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IlexBlue
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If you worked your ass off half as much as you said you did, you should have got a decent mark.

I transferred from one school who taught me absolutely no grammar and only set phrases relating to each topic, so that my general speaking/ writing was dreadful, to a school where they'd learnt all of it in year 7 and resulted in me being several grades behind the class. I got a tutor, and a few months later I got an A in my AS exam.... I don't see why French A Level is so hard. Learn your grammar and your vocab, state your opinion and you're guaranteed at least a B.
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member398873
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(Original post by IlexBlue)
If you worked your ass off half as much as you said you did, you should have got a decent mark.

I transferred from one school who taught me absolutely no grammar and only set phrases relating to each topic, so that my general speaking/ writing was dreadful, to a school where they'd learnt all of it in year 7 and resulted in me being several grades behind the class. I got a tutor, and a few months later I got an A in my AS exam.... I don't see why French A Level is so hard. Learn your grammar and your vocab, state your opinion and you're guaranteed at least a B.
I wish it was, I'm crying now thinking about it because I know fully well that I've put the hours in
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IlexBlue
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(Original post by lechaton-x)
I wish it was, I'm crying now thinking about it because I know fully well that I've put the hours in
If you really did, then I'm puzzled as to why you got the grade you did... that's got to suck.

The only thing I can recommend to you is get a tutor to go over the grammar basics (and then the more complex structures) with you, like si clauses, the subjective, conditional etc. Learn topic specific vocab and use it where you can, and practice whem you can. Speaking requires a lot of practice to get proficient at, just keep trying - it gets easier to hold a conversation the more you do it. Maybe your delivery was quite slow during your exam?
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medbh4805
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Sounds like dodgy marking :erm: Especially when your teacher, an experienced examiner put you at a C.

I don't understand how you could put in so much more effort and only go up 3 marks. It doesn't make sense.
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Xurvi
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Putting in hours of work doesn't make your learning any more efficient.

From the very little that you give us, ie your grades don't improve, I'd wager you're not learning from your mistakes and keep doing them. Another possibility is that even if you know how to conjugate verbs, use the subjunctive etc, you're not using them when you should.

I remember reading some of your work in here some time ago. To be frank, I thought you were doing GCSE because there were loads of basic errors. I don't know how you've progressed, but I'd suggest revising even the basics - because sometimes the things you think you know or believe are correct are actually completely wrong.

Lastly, if it's a memory problem, try to find other learning strategies and find your brain's sweet spot (visual, auditory, etc)
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member398873
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(Original post by Xurvi)
Putting in hours of work doesn't make your learning any more efficient.

From the very little that you give us, ie your grades don't improve, I'd wager you're not learning from your mistakes and keep doing them. Another possibility is that even if you know how to conjugate verbs, use the subjunctive etc, you're not using them when you should.

I remember reading some of your work in here some time ago. To be frank, I thought you were doing GCSE because there were loads of basic errors. I don't know how you've progressed, but I'd suggest revising even the basics - because sometimes the things you think you know or believe are correct are actually completely wrong.

Lastly, if it's a memory problem, try to find other learning strategies and find your brain's sweet spot (visual, auditory, etc)
Yes- I remember posting that, at the start of AS- I was honestly diabolical. So diabolical that I can't believe they only marked me 3 marks up in January! Here is a recording is my French AS mock. I'm not amazing, not going to lie- but I think I def deserve a D grade -.-

http://www.zshare.net/download/877814519a3911bb/

I sound pre-rehearsed as pie, obviously I softened this for the actual exam!
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chestbrah123
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lol U
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