When first researching this topic, I thought this would be a very short article, indeed. After all, when I revised for my Scottish Highers, I turned to the only authority on the matter - the Scottish Qualifications Authority, to be precise.
The SQA website provides question papers and marking information for every subject they give grades in. Why would anyone (mis-)direct themselves to any second-party outlet when they could go straight to the source for free study materials?
Turns out, there's lots of reasons to tap into as many study resources as possible. That's true whether you're revising for your Spanish Higher or any other language - indeed, any Higher subject you will test in, from maths to science.
Well... colour me diversified! I wish I had known that when I was still in school.
So, despite Highers being cancelled this year, Superprof arms you with this list of Spanish resources outlets because, if you were to sit Highers this year, you'll likely sit Advanced Highers next year - and these outlets have resources for each level of examination.
And, as a nod to GCSE Spanish students: these resources can help you prepare for your exam, as well.
Making the Case for SQA
Usually, when people move house or start a new phase of their life, shopping it the first order of business; it's just human nature to equip and outfit oneself with everything needed to start off on the right foot. Thus, whether shopping online or in a shop, brand familiarity is key.
For instance, if Primark is where you normally shop, your first shopping instinct is to go there, never mind if a better deal or higher quality could be had elsewhere.
So, when deciding where to turn for Higher study resources, why go anywhere than SQA - the qualifications authority that administers the exam?
On the surface, it looks like my argument is massively flawed; if one goes for the familiar, might they not turn to other sources - maybe their Spanish tutor, who may already have a trove of past papers in their possession? It's not as flawed as you think, though.
Which Scottish student has no idea whatsoever what the Scottish Qualifications Authority is? As you've been a student for several years, most likely in Scotland, you surely have more than a passing acquaintance with them. After all, they administered your third- and fourth-level exams and your National exams, right?
When you revised for those exams, did you help yourself to all that the SQA website has to offer?
For starters, this site is incredibly efficient. You simply click on the Past Papers tab and, after it loads, type what subject you're looking for and what level exam you're revising. In short order, the list of resources appears and then, it's just a matter of choosing which year(s) you want to review.
Note: SQA presents four years' worth of past papers and marking information.
For Spanish, French, German and other languages including English as a Second Language, SQA makes available MP4 recordings to go along with the papers in question.
All of this is already quite a bounty; now add to it their support and resources page. which include various forms and information pods, as well as a scaling calculator for cyphering grades on scaled exam components.
The long and the short of this thesis is that, whether you need study resources for Higher or Advanced Higher Spanish, you should discover this treasure trove.
Websites that Allow Past Papers Downloads
Learners' selections of study materials would be poor indeed, even with such great resources as the SQA site, if there were no other outlets to find leads to past papers on.
You might reason that, if every site has past papers, there is no point in shopping around but each site offers something a little different, making them all worth looking into.
It's the least we can do to show impartiality, seeing as we've dedicated a whole segment to detailing the SQA site, right? In that spirit, here goes...
Much as we wax enthusiastic about SQA's website for its no-nonsense approach to delivering the goods, Planit takes things to the next level by describing why learning how to speak Spanish is a good idea, what career fields you could find success in as a Spanish speaker and a complete breakdown of the exam itself.
Rather ironically, all of their links to the SQCF Level 6 revision materials take you straight to the assessment authority's website but, at least, you won't have to play around with any pulldown menus or agonise over which selections to make to get the papers you want.
One feature we really like on the Planit Plus page is its reference to progressions throughout the Spanish language curriculum. For instance, it tells you that you should have sat Spanish National 5 before studying for National 6 and, toward the end of the page, it clues you in to where to go next - obviously, Advanced Higher Spanish.
While you're exploring this site, you might also look at resources available for other Higher courses.
Trinity High School
Warning: this page is not so much a trove of past papers and marking information as it is a syllabus of what you can expect in your Higher Spanish college course, with a bevvy of useful links to help you study.
Again, we note that this curriculum outline specifies that the SQA website is THE place to go for past papers... just before moving into the important information - assessment criteria.
- Oral Assessment - speaking, 20 marks
- First Paper: Reading and Directed Writing, 30 and 10 marks, respectively
- Second Paper: Listening and Writing; 20 and 10 marks, respectively
- Total possible grade: 100
- Total exam time: 2 hours, 40 minutes - excluding the Oral portion
Of course, their presentation is not as cut-and-dry as we've made it here; they give substantially more detail about how the exam is structured, what you will be expected to do and the prompts you will work from - recordings, written texts and so on.
Once you wade through all of that, you will find a checklist detailing test-taking skills and tips to improve your Spanish reading and listening skills.
Finally, at the end of this document, you will find three full pages of links to Spanish language resources such as radio, television and written material you could use to make your revision more engaging and fun.
Even if you're not a Trinity student, this syllabus provides a lot of help.
National Parent Forum Scotland
If you prefer your information to come in nuggets - as opposed to a smorgasbord, the NPFS could be just what you're looking for. A study in brevity, their page nevertheless provides links to - you guessed it - the SQA' past papers page, as well as links to listening, directed reading and directed writing specimen pages.
However, their links indicate that they are to resources published in 2015, so maybe it would be best to simply direct yourself to the Authority to get the most up-to-date, relevant materials.
Whether you consider those resources valuable or not, the National Parent Forum site is a fantastic resource that includes several pages on Nationals... in a nutshell, of course.
All said, every one of these could serve as an excellent guide to Higher Spanish...
The Higher Spanish Revision Books
As a former Highers exam sitter, I find it hard to forget the mad scramble for study materials and other resources - and the conviction that I simply wasn't doing enough to guarantee myself a passing grade. I remember the sense of relief I felt - that massive whoosh! of breath as panic fled when I finally got my hands on a study manual.
That paperback served as my security blanket. I felt that, as long as I had it, there would be no way to earn a bad grade.
With all of these fond (?) memories, you might think that I'm a firm advocate of those ponderous paperbacks... but I'm not, necessarily. That is to say: any qualified study resource is good but these books aren't my go-to study tool.
For one, although they contain a lot of extra information - tips for writing and test-taking and snapshots of the forms, some of that information could be considered superfluous. On the other hand, considering it combines BBC Bitesize-like study guides as well as past papers and marking information, perhaps its size is justified.
On the other hand, if you have access to the internet, downloading and printing only the pages you need costs nothing at all - except the cost of the ink and paper you print on, of course. Compare that to the £10 plus shipping (if applicable) that Foyles charges for that book.
Even worse: what if the book is not in stock, which is currently the case?
The bottom line is: you may direct yourself to other websites - XtremePapers, HodderEducation and the like, or you could buy a book to help you study but, by and large, the Scottish authority on Highers is the ultimate, most user-friendly and accessible source of past papers and marking information.
Why go anywhere else?
Now discover Superprof's best tips and tricks for passing your Spanish Higher...