How to get a very high score in the IGCSE Spanish writing paper, the ultimate guide with tips list
Writing is one of the most difficult tasks to do in a foreign language given that it is an expression skill, in contrast to reading or listening. So while doing a writing exam, apart from being able to create and develop ideas in relation to the topic or situation given, we need to have enough knowledge of vocabulary and grammar to deploy those ideas accurately.
So our aim with this article is to gather a few useful tips to help you easily face the writing tasks of your I/GCSE exam. And for such a purpose we have used only official sources from a range of examination boards –Edexcel, Cambridge International Examinations, AQA, etc.-, to make sure our advice is trustworthy.
1. Your first goal is to fulfill all of the communication points provided in the task
As you may already know the long writing tasks, but in some boards’ papers also the short ones, asks the student to provide information related to four to five bullet points.
So in order to get all the marks accounting for the communication criterion, you need to answer with information in relation to all of them. If you miss some information or you don’t develop it enough you will get deducted some marks. In contrast, if you satisfy this requirement properly you will even be allowed to write a few less words than initially asked without any deduction of marks, so please take into account how important this criterion is for the examiner.
Answer each bullet point in a different paragraph, and make sure you provide appropriate information to the communication point. For example, if you are being asked for things to do for young people in your city, make sure you answer a few places using nouns like en mi ciudad hay una bolera, un parque, y un polideportivo, and activities with infinitives like se puede nadar en la playa, or me gusta hacer senderismo. The more pieces of information you provide, the more marks you will get.
Very often each bullet point makes reference to past, present or future situations so that you need to answer to it with the appropriate tense or tenses. This way you can show you consistently and successfully can make reference to different time moments. Make sure then that you use preterite and imperfect when referring to the past, and also near future (ir a followed by infinitive), simple future and conditional when talking about future and your future ideal house, trip or job for example.
Very often one of the bullet points is related to your opinion about an issue. In this case you should always justify your opinion, and below we will give you examples for it.
2. Without enough vocabulary whole ideas cannot be deployed
Knowing enough vocabulary in Spanish not only will help you to consolidate your ideas, but if specific enough and related to the topic it will also help you to produce new and more complex ones. Showing that you know and use accurately very specific vocabulary will also be rewarded since the idea of the usage of a ‘wide range of vocabulary’ by the candidate is very recurrent in the IGCSE guidelines for examiners.
But, what if I am bad with lists or lists of vocabulary I have are endless? One important previous step is doing a right selection of vocabulary. First, find an appropriate and trustworthy list. Every examination board provides a core vocabulary list with different sections by topic so, go for it.
But after finding an appropriate list, transform it! Make it shorter and more useful, and topic by topic: a) exclude common words you already know and don’t need to revise, like days of the week, colors, name of animals, etc., just keep the ones you really need to revise frequently, b) pick words specific enough for each topic focusing mainly in three categories: verbs, nouns and adjectives, and c) avoid adding to your list words so specific that seldom you will be able to include in a phrase.
When selecting verbs, nouns and adjectives don’t add too many. 8 to 10 specific verbs by topic are enough, but make sure you can conjugate them in every tense. Similarly 5 to 7 adjectives are also enough. But probably you will need to memorize more nouns, they are also easier;)
3. Verbs and accurate conjugation are the most important part for in the language criterion
Usage of verbs will be marked on itself, and generally 18 different verbs have to be ticked for getting full mark in this section of the language criterion.
But not every usage of verbs is ticked in the same way. Importantly, only the first occurrence of a verb in the same form is marked. That means that writing me gusta (✔) el chocolate y también me gusta el zumo will be awarded only one tick. In this case would have been much more profitable to declare me gusta (✔) el chocolate y también me encanta (✔) el zumo, almost same phrase but double the marks.
In contrast, when same verb but different subject yes two ticks are given: yo prefiero (✔) la carne y mi hermano prefiere (✔) el pescado. Just make sure that if you specify the subject it is correct as well, since yo prefiero (✔) la carne y hermano prefiere el pescado will only be awarded one tick given that hermano (wrong) is missing the posesive pronoun, mi hermano (right).