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AP Spanish: Escribir Altra Vez del Arte: Home

AP Spanish Language

Exam Tips

World Languages and Cultures

In today's global community, competence in more than one language is an essential part of communication and cultural understanding. Your study of another language not only provides you with the ability to express thoughts and ideas but also gives you access to perspectives and knowledge that are only available through the language and culture. Advanced language learning offers social, cultural, academic, and workplace benefits that will serve you throughout your life.

Developing Your Communication Skills

As you develop language proficiency, you learn to use your language skills within the three modes of communication.

In Interpersonal Communication, you engage in conversations, express ideas, and exchange opinions using both spoken and written language
In Interpretive Communication, you understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics
In Presentational Communication, you present information and ideas to an audience using spoken and written language

Interpersonal Communication

Take every opportunity to use the language as much as you can. Participate actively in class discussions, get to know exchange students and other advanced students of the language, or connect with students from around the world using technology. Don't worry about making mistakes, just use the language. If you find yourself struggling to remember a word, think about another way of expressing your idea.

In this mode of communication, you'll need to be able to ask and answer a variety of questions, exchange information and ideas, and state and support your opinions. You'll also need to interact appropriately in formal and informal situations.

Interpretive Communication

You should read, listen to and watch a variety of materials from countries where the language you are studying is spoken. Explore your personal interests and find podcasts, websites, and videos that are especially interesting. Learn about current events by watching the news or reading online newspapers and magazines. For enjoyment, watch movies or cartoons, read stories, or listen to music. The important thing is you are using your language skills—and learning something about the cultural products, practices and perspectives of the places where the language is spoken.

In this mode of communication, you'll need to be able to understand main ideas and some details, recognize purpose and points of view, and think about perspectives different from your own. You don't have to understand every word to be successful.

Presentational Communication

Being able to present your ideas in an organized way to various audiences is an important aspect of communication. Presentational Communication includes telling a story, making a speech, writing an essay or movie review, and making a presentation to your classmates or members of the community. No matter what the situation, you'll need to prepare your thoughts and ideas in an organized fashion to reach your audience effectively.

In this mode of communication, you'll need to be able to organize your presentation around a main idea and develop it in a logical fashion with relevant details and support. Depending on the goals of your presentation, you'll need to be able to narrate, explain, compare, or persuade.

*from College Board

AP Spanish Literature

Practice Free-Response Tasks

The free-response portion of your exam consists of four tasks, two of which are short answer and two of which essay questions. You may complete these tasks in any order. Because you are less likely to be rushed or tired at the beginning of this section, we here at CollegeVine recommend that you complete your essay questions first, as they are more heavily weighted in scoring. The essay questions appear at the end of the free-response section, but you can feel free to skip ahead to them.

One essay question will ask you to offer an analysis of a single text. You will be asked to read an excerpt from a text on the required reading list (or the whole work in the case of a short poem) and then analyze how the text represents the characteristics of a particular genre.  You’ll also need to give insights about the particular historical, cultural, or social context. Be sure to discuss relevant literary devices in the text and cite examples in support of your analysis.

The other essay question will ask you to compare two texts. You will read two excerpts related by theme, with one coming from the required reading list and the other from a text not on the list. Again, in the case of a short poem, the entire text will be included. In your essay, you should analyze the effectiveness of specific literary devices in developing the particular theme as indicated by the prompt. You will compare the theme’s presentation in each of the two works and cite examples from both texts to support your analysis.

It is recommended that you spend about 35 minutes on each of the essay questions. Keep in mind while writing that this section of the exam is your best opportunity to show off your knowledge of vocabulary specific to literary analysis. Review the Glossary of Literary Terms thoroughly to ensure success. Be sure to include specific quotes and cite line numbers in your responses.   

The short answer portion of your free-response section will include one text explanation and one text and art comparison. For the text explanation, you’ll read an excerpt from a text on the required reading list and be asked to identify the author and period of the text. You’ll also need to explain the development of a particular theme found in the excerpt, relating it to the whole work from which the excerpt is taken. Basically, this question is designed to test your knowledge of the required reading list, so make sure that you can identify each of the works on it, and provide some basic details about each one, including thematic information.

The text and art comparison also tests your knowledge of the required reading list, but more so relates directly to thematic knowledge. This question will present an excerpt or poem from the required reading list alongside an image of a piece of art. You will then compare how a particular theme is represented in both the text and the image, and connect the theme to the genre, period or movement of the text.

On the entire free-response section, keep in mind that the content of your response is valued above the language of your response. While specific vocabulary to describe literary devices and support literary analysis is definitely imperative on this section, don’t stress too much about exact grammar or specific vocabulary outside of the core glossary. Your score will be weighted 70% for content and 30% for language. 

As on the multiple-choice section, your best bet to prepare for the free-response section is to practice free-response prompts as much as possible. Luckily, there are many available. You can find every free-response question dating back to the 2012 exam available on AP Central. Be sure to review not only the free-response questions themselves, but also the scoring explanations, examples of authentic student responses, and detailed scoring criteria for each question.