The benefits of learning a foreign language have been well documented over the years, but the question often remains as to which language a learner should pick up. Learning Spanish has huge advantages worldwide, notably because it is an official language in 20 sovereign countries meaning that there are an estimated 440 million speakers of Spanish around the globe.

Studying Spanish at school or university will almost certainly mean you have to take set of Spanish exams. These could be your GCSEs in the UK, the SATs in the U.S.A, or one of the different provincial school exams in Canada.

But how should you approach ensuring that you language skills are sharp before the day of a test?

Here at Superprof, we have put together a short summary of some of the different ways that you can prepare yourself to take a Spanish test.

How to Learn Spanish for your SAT Subject Test

Make sure you are fully prepared to take your Spanish test
Picking the best way to learn Spanish will mean that the SAT test doesn't feel like an interrogation!

If you are applying to some of the universities that are more selective when it comes to admissions, SAT subject tests will often be required of you. You will normally be expected to have taken two or three of these tests, one of which could be Spanish.

Knowing what to expect from Spanish SAT tests will put you in a better place to succeed. They aim to cover topics that you will have studied during your Spanish courses at high school, so hopefully there won't be too many nasty surprised on exam day.

What is the Format of the Spanish SAT Test

The Spanish SAT test is comprised of 85 multiple choice questions which you will have 1 hour to answer. You will be tested on three different skills sets; vocabulary and structure, paragraph completion, and reading comprehension, with each one being worth 33% of the overall grade.

The vocabulary and structure questions are targeted at students' ability to identify the correct use of a word or phrase based on the grammar and context of a given sentence. The paragraph completion section of the test also aims to test grammar and vocabulary usage, except this time in longer excerpts of text. Finally the reading comprehension questions use relevant articles to test student's ability to identify support ideas, arguments, and style, amongst other things.

For more information, you can check out the SAT subject tests' student guide. Remember that the information contained in this guide is correct at the point of publication, but is subject to change year on year.

Anticipated Spanish Skills

You can expect the SAT Spanish subject test to examine you on a wide range of different skills. Obviously you should brush up on your vocabulary, verb conjugation, and other grammar structures, but you should also be aware that basic idioms will also feature on the test, and your knowledge of words from different aspects of the language will also be tested.

One key skill for this particular Spanish test is being able to choose an appropriate word or phrase to complete a sentence or paragraph based on the grammar and context given. Make sure that you practise this skill beforehand so that you know you can deal with the questions relating to it comfortably on the day.

Make sure you are well prepared for your Spanish test
Skyping with a native Spanish speaker is a great way to prepare for any Spanish test

Recommended Preparation for the Spanish SAT Test

It is recommended that you have undergone a period of 3-4 years of Spanish study which has seen your competence in the language increase continuously. This means that if you have studied Spanish for three years, but have not advanced in the last 18 months, you are perhaps not ready to take the test.

Naturally, to prepare for the test you should revise all aspects of Spanish. This means that you should brush up on your Spanish grammar and vocabulary.

There are many different ways to do this, but any way that you can immerse yourself in the Spanish language should lend itself useful when it comes to test day. Examples of this include watching movies with Spanish subtitles, listening to Spanish music, and reading Spanish language newspapers, websites and books.

It is also recommended that you practise the format of the test to ensure that you know what to expect on test day. You can find a number of different resources online to help you do this, such as in the SAT subject tests' student guide.

Prepare for Your Spanish Test with the Help of a Tutor

No matter your level of Spanish, a private tutor can help you learn the language of Cervantes in the best way. What's more, revising for Spanish exams with a tutor is a sure fire way to make sure you are fully prepared for the big day.

Why Hire a Private Spanish Tutor?

  • Gain confidence: a thorough review with an expert Spanish professor before the exam, practising the exercises that will appear on the test, can reassure you of your Spanish skills
  • Be motivated: the teacher is there to motivate you to prepare for a Spanish exam
  • Hone a good methodology: sometimes, we don’t learn efficiently. Your tutor is there to correct your aim and show you the right path to review what you have learnt so that you pass your test!

What Does a Private Spanish Tutor Do?

A private Spanish tutor will adapt to a student and their difficulties. How to review well? Simply follow the guide that your professor has concocted! One less thing to do for those who have trouble figuring out where and how to start.

Is your weakness your speaking ability? Passing a Spanish test isn’t a given for everyone. Your tutor will be there to role-play conversations with you and to correct your pronunciation and grammar. They will be able to advise you on how to improve.

Do you have trouble with your writing skills? A private Spanish teacher will help you in your revisions and can help you go over your previous corrected exams and homework assignments to improve on past mistakes.

use tutor to pass AP spanish
Meeting a private tutor in an informal setting is essential before choosing who to work with.

Do You Need a Private Spanish Tutor All Year Round?

That’s for you to decide! But a year-round tutor will allow you to have the best chance of succeeding. You will be more at ease, you will better manage your stress, and you will without a doubt attain a higher level of Spanish than the majority of your classmates.

10 Steps to Help you Learn Spanish and Pass your Test

A word to the wise: You need to be preparing for  the entire year, and maybe even before, in order to excel in your Spanish exams! You don’t learn a second language in a few weeks. Engaging with the modern language that is Spanish early on is the best way to pass your Spanish test.

  • Go to Spanish class: On average, a student retains 20% of what they hear, 70% of what they say, and 90% of what they do. Going to class but being passive will not work. Ask questions, take notes, respond to the teacher’s questions. Be focused, and you will have less work to do at home later.
  • Do your homework: Rereading your class notes the night after your class is a way of aiding memorisation. Make a review sheet by underlining the essential concepts from that day’s class. Then rewrite, make diagrams, simplify the lesson in the form of a worksheet. Then, reread and review those worksheets.
  • Be curious: The two or three hours of Spanish that you have per week are not enough to put you at perfect ease with the Spanish language. Be curious: seek out new vocabulary, research Pachamama, Che’s revolution, or Franco’s dictatorship.
  • Review effectively: Forget about distractions when you are reviewing your class notes. No smartphone, no music (or else something without words), no little brother or sister next to you. Make sure you have everything you need: notebooks, books, pencils, worksheets, a bottle of water, a snack…
Follow all of the advice to successfully tackle your Spanish exam
A study guide is useful so you won’t have to look over your neighbor’s shoulder!
  • Study with your classmates: Although for the written portion you might prefer to review on your own, it’s helpful to practice with others for the speaking and listening portions. Do some role-playing to be as prepared as possible for the test. And it’s easier to be motivated when you’re with others! Just make sure to choose a serious partner.
  • Use previous exams: Your professors will try to model their test questions on previous exams to help you. So go over your previous tests and homework assignments, and you’ll be better prepared for your test answers.
  • Take breaks: To learn efficiently, breaks are necessary. You cannot concentrate indefinitely. Try to review intensively for 1 hour to 1 hour and 45 minutes and then take a 10 minute or 15 minute break. And keep to your schedule!
  • Forget your stress: Remember to breathe if you start to feel anxious. A deep breathe and a long exhale. This is a good way to relax.
  • Work on your handwriting: Write legibly in blue or black, skip lines, don’t cram your letters together. Try not to cross things out, or if you have to, use a ruler to do it neatly. Being conscientious with your handwriting is a good way to avoid losing points for a silly reason.
  • Take care of yourself: As you are revising, hygiene is of the utmost importance. Get up early and go to bed early, drink water and eat well (pasta, bananas, almonds, kiwis, oranges, berries, etc.) and exercise to unwind and better concentrate.

In sum:

  • Make sure you’re familiar with what will be on the test. This is essential before showing up for the test and even before starting to revise.
  • Preparing for a Spanish test starts at the beginning of the year, especially the listening part, which normally poses the most difficulty for students. Listen to the radio, watch the news in Spanish, familiarise yourself with the popular Spanish-language songs… make sure you’re listening to a little bit every day.
  • A private tutor can help you by focusing your studying, honing your methodology, motivating you, and managing your stress.
  • Follow our advice and any Spanish test will be a stroll in the park for you!

And don't forget to sign up for Spanish lessons London or your town to get the most advance learning possible!

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As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.