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Revision for Spanish GCSE speaking exam.

The last weeks of April and the first weeks of May are usually the dates for the Spanish GCSE speaking exam. In this post, we'll show you examples of how to approach the exam revision, how to take preliminary notes during the preparation time, and some useful tips for the exam itself.

Spanish GCSE speaking exam


We'll divide the information into 3 parts, corresponding to the 3 sections of the exam: Role Play, Photo Card, and General Conversation. My top recommendation is that a large part of the speaking exam revision should involve speaking. Also, as much as possible, interacting and answering questions in a real exam context, that is, with questions similar to the real exam and within the established time for each test.

Role Play

In my opinion, the most challenging part for a Spanish GCSE student is visualising the situation of the Role Play. Many of the scenarios simulate the purchase of tickets for events or transport, clothing, or electronic devices in the traditional manner. Nowadays, our students are accustomed to dynamics that do not correspond to physical shopping in stores, but rather to virtual online purchases. I believe that the problem, in many cases, is not the lack of knowledge of Spanish, but rather the lack of understanding of the situation being generated in the Role Play.

When preparing for Role Play questions, "bullet points," my recommendations are as follows:

1- Visualise the situation and transform the information from the "bullet points" into simple and complete sentences. Example:

Role Play GCSE Spanish - Higher - AQA
GCSE Spanish - Higher - AQA - Past Paper - June 2019 - Role Play 16

Correct answers:

  • Quiero reservar una mesa a las 2 para 4 personas.

  • Prefiero cerca de la ventana.

  • ¿Tiene menú especial con comida vegetariana?

  • Ayer visité un museo y comí fajitas en un restaurante.

2- When faced with the question to ask (?), try to use one of these three options, which almost always work: :

A- ¿Tiene/s…? | Does it have / Do you have...?

B- ¿Hay…? | Is there... / are there...?

C- ¿Qué opinas sobre...? | What do you think about...?

Below are some examples of real questions from past GCSE Spanish exams. These Role play examples are from the AQA exam, from June 2019, for the Higher tier.

Role Play - Spanish GCSE - AQA

RP1. ? Descuento – estudiantes. = ¿Hay descuento para estudiantes?

Discount - students. = Is there any discount for students?

Role Play - Spanish GCSE - AQA

RP2. ? Solución.= ¿Tiene alguna solución el problema?

Solution . = Does the issue have a solution?

Role Play - Spanish GCSE - AQA

RP3. ? Hijos. = ¿Qué opinas sobre la idea de tener hijos?

Children = What do you think about the idea of having children?

Role Play - Spanish GCSE - AQA

RP4. ? Alcohol. = ¿Qué opinas sobre el alcohol?

Alcohol = What do you think about the alcohol?

Role Play - Spanish GCSE - AQA

RP5. ? Acoso escolar en México. = ¿Hay mucho acoso escolar en México?

Bullying in Mexico = Is there alot of bullying in Mexico?

Role Play - Spanish GCSE - AQA

RP6. ? Planes para el trabajo. = ¿Tienes planes para el trabajo en el futuro?

Plans for the job. = Do you have any plans for a job in the future?


In the previous 6 examples, and in most of the Role Play questions, the 3 possible options I explained work perfectly.

Photo Card

I usually divide the resolution of these questions into 2 parts.

On one hand, the description of the photo using specific vocabulary. On the other hand, preparation for questions 2 and 3 (known) and questions 4 and 5 (unknown).

I always explain to my students that the description of the photo has to be clear and precise. I tell them that they have to imagine that they are explaining the photo to someone who cannot see it. Therefore, the main information is based on explaining what is in the photo and what the people there are doing. If possible, or very obvious, also mention where the photo takes place.

Here are some basic examples of an initial description of the photo. Click on to see different photos:

For the preparation of questions 2 to 5, my recommendation is to create a brainstorming diagram. To do this, we will look at questions 2 and 3 and write down words related to them and to the main theme of the photo. It is important to think about actions (verbs), places, people, and personal relationships within the main theme. Most likely, many of these words will also be useful for questions 4 and 5. Example:

Photo Card - H - AQA - June 2019

1. ¿Qué hay en la foto?

2. ¿Crees que el trabajo de un chef es fácil?... ¿Por qué (no)?

3. ¿Qué hiciste en el pasado para ganar dinero?

Esquema - Brain Storming - Vocabulario Photo Card
Esquema - Brain Storming - Vocabulario Photo Card

Known questions (1 to 3)

1. ¿Qué hay en la foto?

En la foto hay 3 personas en la cocina de un restaurante. Están cocinando / están preparando comida. En mi opinión creo que una persona es el jefe y las otras 2 son estudiantes aprendiendo la profesión.

2. ¿Crees que el trabajo de un chef es fácil?... ¿Por qué (no)?

Creo que el trabajo de un chef no es fácil porque tienes que trabajar mucho y el horario no es ideal. Además, en la cocina del restaurante tienes que compartir espacio con más compañeros así que necesitas unas buenas habilidades sociales. ¡Qué complicado!

3. ¿Qué hiciste en el pasado para ganar dinero?

El año pasado trabajé en una tienda como asistente. Me gustó mucho porque hablé con muchos clientes y fue una buena experiencia profesional. Sin embargo, la parte negativa fue que tuve que estudiar al mismo tiempo. ¡Qué estrés!

Unknown questions (4 and 5)

4. ¿Qué problemas tienen las personas que no tienen trabajo?

En primer lugar el problema más importante es que no tienen un salario, por lo tanto no tienen mucho dinero. En segundo lugar, no pueden hacer planes de futuro ya que sin trabajo es difícil planificar vacaciones o visitas a familiares.

5. ¿Cuál sería tu trabajo ideal?...¿Por qué?

Mi trabajo ideal sería Bombero porque soy una persona fuerte y con energía. Me encantaría poder ayudar a otras personas en accidentes o situaciones de peligro. Además, no estoy muy interesado en estudiar en la Universidad, así que prepararme para ser bombero sería perfecto. ¡Qué emocionante!

The strong point of this tool is that I can create sentences instantly, simply by following the guidance of the words I haven't used yet to answer questions 2 and 3. Therefore, to answer questions 4 and 5, we will try to make simple sentences using the remaining vocabulary from the brainstorming diagram.

General Conversation

For the revision of this part of the exam, I recommend continuous exposure to questions of all types for as long as possible. It's advisable to start this practice as early as possible in the Spanish learning process. Unfortunately, sometimes leaving oral interaction practice until Year 11 can be a bit late. This is how many students find this situation overwhelming.

However, don't despair! If a student is able to explain basic actions in the past, present, and future, they have a good chance of success in this part of the exam. Here is a chart that can be a quick, short-term solution for those students who haven't had as much practice time, for whatever reasons.

Revision GCSE Spanish Speaking
Revision chart - Past | Present | Future

Quiero concluir diciendo que, en muchas ocasiones, los profesores de idiomas gastamos mucho tiempo explicando las múltiples variables, partes, excepciones y tecnicidades de la lengua, en detrimento de más tiempo de práctica e interacción para los estudiantes. Si atendiéramos a las teorías de la adquisición del lenguaje, principal mecanismo por el que un estudiante adquiere habilidades con otro idioma, nos daríamos cuenta de que reducir nuestro tiempo de explicación no solo favorece la comprensión del estudiante, sino también, deja mucho más tiempo para lo verdaderamente relevante: interacción comunicativa en español.

I would like to conclude by saying that, on many occasions, language teachers spend a lot of time explaining the multiple variables, parts, exceptions, and technicalities of the language, at the expense of more practice and interaction time for students. If we were to adhere to language acquisition theories, the main mechanism through which a student acquires skills in another language, we would realize that reducing our explanation time not only favours student understanding, but also leaves much more time for what is truly relevant: communicative interaction in Spanish.

Best of luck and go for it!

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