A* at A Level FrenchWatch
I just wanted to know if anyone has recently achieved an A* at A2 French and has any advice on how to succeed and get high marks at A2?
Here are some tips I gave another user as well as some additional advice:
- Use impersonal expressions - in particular 'il s'agit de' and 'il faut' - In doing so you sound more French and 'il faut' can be turned into a subjunctive by making it 'il faut que'
- Don't obfuscate - from what I've seen and read, the best French is simple, and too many people when asked to write a response simply look for posh sounding expressions (my least favourite being 'la premiere constatation qui s'impose', etc.) because they believe it enhances the quality of their work - it doesn't and makes it sound too over the top and un-french
- The subjunctive: try to not go overboard with the subjunctive. If used too often it makes you sound pompous. I basically limited myself to 'bien que', 'pour que' and 'il faut que', however, if you are in dire need of a subjunctive (you will likely need at least 2 per essay to get high grammar marks) you can make a subjunctive by making je pense que and je crois que negative - for example, je pense que ce n'est pas bon could be made into je ne pense pas que ce soit bon - a bad example, but you get the drift
- Read! Definitely read articles and try and get as much vocab as possible from them. Read books too if you like, but I found them either too long or too archaic for me to effectively revise vocab from them. Articles are also an excellent way to improve the quality of your written French. For instance, I noticed the French love of present participles (see below) just through reading, and then I applied that to my essays
- Using past participles - One thing I've noticed is that the French LOVE past participles which they use to 'strengthen' (I can't think of a better term) their nouns. For example you could say 'les decisions de la Cour Supreme' although I would prefer to say 'Les decisions PRISES PAR la Cour Supreme'. Both sentences work, but using participles in this way will gain you grammar points and also sounds more French. Also starting your sentences with past participles can add to the overall Frenchness of your language
- Using present participles - This is a super easy way to gain grammar points if done effectively - once in a while replacing 'ce qui VERB' or 'qui VERB' with a present participle can demonstrate that you understand where to use them, but don't overdo it
- For translations vocab is essential so I advise 3 things: Firstly make sure your additional reading is about a wide range of subjects that correlate roughly to the syllabus - Le Monde is a great paper for this. Second, go through the vocab lists that are provided by the exam boards, ESPECIALLY the GCSE ones. These are so often forgotten, yet contain an enormous amount of basic words that can help in almost all translations. You also should have vocab lists at the back of your A level textbooks which are worth learning as well. Third, learn more obscure prepositions. These can be found listed in almost all French grammar books (though in my opinion Shaums is the best) and are expressions such as 'au dela de' (beyond) - I mention this specifically because this was on the OCR A2 translation this year and was vital for getting all available marks.
- Use exemplars: The availability of these depends on the exam board - AQA has a bunch and OCR has none from what I've seen. However, finding good ones can really help you see how others have structured their essays. The best one I've ever come across is student 8 from the following link:
Note in particular how he has used impersonal expressions such as il s'agit de to improve his grammatical range
Best of luck with everything!