As a (former) English teacher in China, I was always amazed at the level of dedication and hard work my students put toward earning a good grade on their school-leaving exams. They studied long into the night and fairly injured themselves, staying hunched over their books for hours on end.
I can connect those students with Scottish learners. In my experience, you share the same dedication to your task and desire to do it as well as you can, knowing that only the best grades will pave the way to the future you want.
As a language learner - the Spanish language, at that! - your future looks bright, indeed.
As you surely know, Highers and Advanced Highers have been cancelled this year but that doesn't mean that you won't undergo any type of assessment. Thus, it's a good idea to get your hands on Spanish past papers and marking information, if only to know what you will be assessed on.
And, for those students who should have sat their Higher Spanish this year - who will sit their Advanced Spanish Higher next year, bookmark this page. You will surely need to know where all the best revision resources are.
We'll start at the source, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, and work our way through all of the revision materials we found to help you study for your Advanced Higher Spanish exam.
SQA Past Papers and Revision Materials
Here, in Scotland, we're blessed not to have a saturation of outlets that promise Higher and Advanced Higher past papers alongside adverts for tutors promising stellar exam results, study aids - at a discounted rate, of course, and other school-related items, from backpacks to binders.
On the SQA website, all you'll find is exactly what you need.
Your exam being a language test, you will find audio files for download to help you advance your listening skills. Accordingly, the marking information tells you exactly what your listening assessment will consist of and the grade you can expect to earn.
Of course, your exam includes a reading component. With the four years of past papers you can access at SQA's website, you can practise reading each Spanish text and answer the questions below them. To make things easier, the marks you may achieve are noted in the margin but, to find out what examiners are grading you on, you have to refer to the marking information sheet.
If you're worried about the discursive writing portion of your exam, maybe wondering what types of prompts you will be given to address, you can find a specimen of those, too.
These PDF and MP3 files should be the cornerstone of your Advanced Spanish Higher review. You may download them and print the papers out; saving the audio files to your phone or other device so that you can listen to Spanish as you go about your day... but they shouldn't be the sum total of your revision materials.
Did you know? The Scottish Qualifications Authority site is also where National 6 candidates can turn to find their past papers and audio files.
High School and College Resources
'Learn it and burn it' is a common and effective learning strategy for common subjects that you must sit Higher exams for - English, Maths and so on, but that won't be included in your university degree programme.
Presumably, you plan to continue learning Spanish when you enrol at university, so learning and burning Spanish vocabulary, grammar and culture is not an option for you... unless you're truly just learning Spanish for something to do and have no plans to build a career around your language ability.
Seeing as that is so hard to believe, we're taking a different tack: you should gain as much exposure to Spanish, especially Advanced Spanish Higher study materials as possible.
It seems that many high schools and colleges think the same. Here is a selection of bulletins, pamphlets and advisories from schools all over Scotland.
Curriculum for Excellence
Granted, their exam practice PDF does not include any sample questions, specimen papers or audio files. However, it does provide excellent advice and information for maximising your grade in each part of the exam. For instance:
- the translation segment does not include comprehension questions
- break the reading segment down into smaller blocks of text
- highlight sentences you think contain answers to the text-related questions
- You will be allowed to use your dictionary, however, they recommend using it sparingly
- the directed writing segment is more a test of your ability to use the language than to think critically
- You will get to study the questions before listening to the audio segment
That last bullet is particularly welcome news, isn't it? As a language learner, you've likely suffered through many exams that presented the audio portion first and then the questions. Maybe, if the invigilators were generous, you got to listen twice...
This CfE-endorsed Hariot-Watt University Scholar programme publishes an assortment of study materials tailored specifically to the SQA curriculum. You may head to their website (https://books.scholar.hw.ac.uk) to buy a book for around £10 or click on their 'Study Guides' tab to see the latest they uploaded in PDF format.
Carluke High School
Carluke's Advanced Spanish Higher handout embraces the idea we mentioned earlier: that Spanish is not a learn it/burn it proposition; it's for life. They use different words to say it, though.
Still, with that kind of mindset, you have to know they've seriously got the goods where revising for your Advanced Spanish Higher is concerned.
Their free-to-download PDF starts with instructions for getting organised and gathering together your study materials. They then go through the exam, what it contains and how each part will be graded. They give topic suggestions that you might learn about to make your reading skills sharper - lots of new vocabulary and grammar constructions to add to your knowledge of Spanish.
Finally, they cover marking schemes for your portfolio, discursive essay and overall performance and, at the end of their paper, they list several external resources you could use to hone your reading and listening skills.
This brilliant paper is clearly meant to appeal to students; there are lots of bright colours and engaging language. Even the external websites they suggest are targeted to teens! I would definitely add Carluke's paper to my stash of review materials even if I weren't a Carluke student.
Pro study tip: the best way to pass Higher Spanish is to diversify your study materials and methods. Superprof tells you how in our companion article...
Other Resources Around the Web
When it comes to revision materials, there is no question that, the more you have, the better a grasp you will get on your subject. That goes for standard subjects like English, mathematics and business as well as modern languages such as French, German and, of course, Spanish.
In that spirit, we finish off this article on Advanced Spanish Higher resources with a few from the far-flung corners of the internet.
As you've been learning Spanish for a few years, you probably already know about resources like SpanishPod101, Why Not Spanish? and The Spanish Blog. If you haven't already tapped into them, you should give them a go!
The following sites are not quite so renowned but that doesn't mean they won't help you with your studies.
Take Saint Thomas of Aquin High School, for instance. Their National 6 exam page lists a course overview, specific to their school, of course. However, under the 'homework' tab, they list a dozen or so links to sites meant to advance your understanding and ability to use Spanish.
Their resources tab lists Scholar, one we've already covered and Languages Online (languagesonline.org.uk), which has review materials for the English A-Levels but not for Scottish Highers. You could still make use of that site, though. It is school-level Spanish, after all...
Advanced Spanish Worksheets is a collection of Spanish study materials. There, you will find audio recordings and vocabulary lists, grammar papers and a fair slice of written materials for you to practise reading in Spanish. The page (spanish-resources.com/level/advanced) mentions that it is under construction but all of the links work, so you can start reviewing those pages today.
Finally, Broughton High School in Edinburgh has put together a user-friendly modern languages page that features a school-specific syllabus and a two-page PDF containing revision notes.
It may seem that they are a bit out of date because they list older past papers than what's available on the SQA website but that is no reason to overlook this resource! The document's second page lists a host of web links you can access to improve your reading and listening skills.
Of course, as an Advanced Higher student, you are likely an old hand at searching for study materials. Still, we might have uncovered a few you missed; if so, we hope this summary helps you a bit.
Now join the conversation: do you wish there were a complete guide to Higher Spanish exams?