Revision is an important part of preparing for your end of year exams. Languages can be a little more complex than other subjects in regards to how you revise. If you have read through our guide on tackling questions, it gives helpful advice on how to break down the different assessments, but what can you practice with? The lovely people at NZQA have made available past exam papers, so you can revise and practise with the real deal. A few things to take into consideration is that the resources and questions change every year. So don’t get too attached to the questions and try to rote-learn answers. It can be particularly tricky to find resources to help you revise the listening section, luckily we can point you in the right direction.
NCEA French Exam Listening Comprehension
With nerves racing and the pressure of not knowing exactly how it all works, the Level 1 French exam layout is quite unique. With three hours to complete two exam papers, in theory, is plenty of time compared to other subjects where you have three papers in the same amount of time. The difference for languages is the listening section. It is rather an odd task, as you listen to selected audio, you need to take notes of what was said. There is a lot of pressure during the exam by having to listen, remember, and write. Using past papers can help you understand the format of the exam.
For those of you who have already experienced the NCEA French exams, Level 2 and Level 3 follow a similar format. You have three hours and two exam papers to complete. For those of you sitting level 3, have a think about sitting the scholarship exam. It is challenging and it is a great chance to flex your French muscles. For more detailed information on what to expect, read our NCEA French Scholarship Guide. While you have already sat the exam before, building up your revision skills and finding different ways to engage with studying can improve your motivation and competence.
Here is a complete guide to NCEA French exam.
Improve your listening skills for the NCEA French exam by using past French exam papers. You can practice listening to audio clips that were used in past exams. Have a think about the way that works best for you when listening to information. During the exam, the audio clip will be played three times. The first time it will run through it all, the second and third, it will be broken into segments with a pause between them. Is it easier for you to listen and digest the information before or after reading the questions? It is recommended that you focus on listening to the audio clip the first time it plays, and use the second and third to take notes.
It may seem like a lost opportunity just to listen the first time, but in general we humans are not exceptional at multitasking. Our attention becomes divided and means we do two things okay, rather than one thing really well. By listening to the audio clip, you have time to think about the theme, locate where the most relevant information is in the clip in regards to the questions, and understand the general story. This makes it easier for us to take notes as we know roughly where we did focus. With note-taking, bullet points are the way to go. There is a lot of information to search through within a limited time frame so be strategic.
When it comes to note-taking, be direct and as short as possible. You don’t need a word for word example. It just has to accurately represent what happened. A good place to start is with the emotive words, causes, and consequences. Usually, there are questions about how people are feeling or reacting to a change. This is where the past exams come into play. Open the audio link and the corresponding exam paper, set yourself up in a cosy and quiet space, and have a go! The first time you listen to the audio clip, look at the structure of the question and evaluate the pace of the people speaking. If you find it difficult to follow what is happening, start listening to more things in French.
An easy place to start is with movies and series you already know. Change the audio and the subtitles to French. This helps you to recognise the written word to the spoken form. French isn’t particularly phonetic, so hearing and seeing words at the same time will boost your vocabulary. While it may seem like a good idea to mix the audio and subtitles in English and French, we automatically tune into our native language and pay less attention to the other. So stick with the French. When you are choosing an exam to use, stay within the past three years. Exams are often updated and their formats are changed, so no need to make things harder for yourself by studying outdated exams.
Find out more on NCEA French study guide here.
NCEA French Exam Reading Comprehension
The reading section of the exam will require you to read, understand, and answer questions related to a variety of different written texts (usually three but that is not set in stone). These texts can be; journal entries, news articles, opinion pieces, etc. The way in which these texts are written will depend on the level of the exam. For level 1, they will be more direct and contain more simple sentences. For level 3, expect to see the use of le subjonctif, le plus-que-parfait, and l’hypothèses. Understanding these grammar rules and their functions will make it easier to understand the different ideas and sentiments within the text. It is a great idea to read books in French to boost your reading comprehension. Start by reading books you know well and are appropriate for your level of French.
With the information you have gathered, you will then answer a range of questions that have different requirements. Some questions may ask for a certain detail, others will require you to explain. The explanation questions are more complicated as you need to answer the question with relevant evidence integrated into your response. Integrating evidence trips up quite a few NCEA students. Use connectors such as, for example…, this is demonstrated when..., etc. They unify your writing and make it clear to the reader that you have understood the text.
Past papers can help you develop your reading and listening comprehension skills. Choose a past paper and the corresponding booklet. Have a read through the first text, if you feel confident that you understand the main theme and a majority of the vocabulary used, that is great. The next step is to attempt the questions. If you have struggled to understand the text, the best step here is to revise your vocabulary. Go over your past notes from class, as the theme is an area you would have studied already such as hobbies, ecology, and opinions. It can be tempting to translate the text however it won't help you a lot in the long run. Revise then re-read. It will help the vocabulary stick in your memory more.
Once you have completed the questions, you can compare your response to the marking schedule AND an exemplar. When reading through an exemplar, choose one that has achieved merit or excellence. What is even better is the exemplars come with a detailed marking schedule. The markers write down what the student did well in, and where they need to approve. It even informs the reader on what they should do to move up the marking schedule. Use them to compare and contrast against your ideas. When comparing and contrasting, you are looking at how they wrote rather than explicitly what they wrote. For a majority of the questions, there isn’t exactly one correct answer. The evidence you choose to use does not have to be the same, it just needs to support and relate to your main points.
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Revising for your exam with past papers is a great way to prepare and familiarise yourself with the exam format. They are there to suit your needs, so that may mean attempting them as a group, individually, in sections, without time limits, whatever works for you. If you are looking for more help or want to develop your skills further. Superprof enables you to find a tutor that works for you. With a range of experienced and motivated tutors, you can improve your writing, reading and listening skills at a click of a button. Est-ce que vous êtes prêt?
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