The end of the year seems to be so far away until one day you look at the calendar and you are suddenly weeks away from your NCEA exams. Whether or not this is your first year or your last, it is very normal to feel nervous and a little unprepared. A great skill that you can use across a variety of subjects and through life, is the skill of breaking things down. Breaking things down in relation to your NCEA French exams is about working smarter not harder. The idea is to break a question down into smaller, easier to manage sections. For revision ideas, read through our study guide on past papers.

Here is a complete guide to NCEA French exam.

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Breaking down the NCEA French question is a skill. Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
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Tackling NCEA Level 1 French Exam Questions

As your first round of exams approaches, the NCEA exams primarily focuses on your reading and listening comprehension. Overall, you will have 3 hours to complete two NCEA French external assessments. So where should you start revising? What are you going to be tested on? How can you achieve excellence? Well, the best place to work out those answers is to have a look at the marking schedule. The reading comprehension exam, or more formally known as Assessment Standard (AS)90878 Demonstrate understanding of a variety of French texts on areas of most immediate relevance, has an achievement grid that differs by one word for each achievement level. For example, achieved requires you to demonstrate an understanding of the texts, merit requires that you demonstrate a clear understanding, and excellence requires you to demonstrate a thorough understanding. This information will be provided to you in the exam but it is nice to know in advance what the examiners are looking for.

In the exam, you will receive a booklet and a question paper. The booklet is yours to do what you like, so write on it. It may seem strange but it is a good idea. In order to break down the question, you need to understand the written extracts. Do each section individually, read the extract, read the questions related to that particular one, then read it again. Underline any words that you don’t know. The exams are very specific so they aim to include themes you will have covered throughout the year. If there are words you don’t know, it is pretty normal. What you want to do is read around the word. Think about the theme of the written extract, do you have a general idea about what the exam is about? Can you make sense of the sentence without having a firm understanding of that particular word? Have a look back at the question paper. By combining the two it helps to break down the theme of the document. This section is designed to test what you understand. So make sure you use examples from the text to support your answers. You can respond to the questions in te reo Māori, English, and/or French.

The listening section is generally considered a bit trickier than the reading. Unfortunately, you don’t have the ability to re-listen to the recording as many times as you want. The magic number is 3. It will play through in its entirety once, then twice more broken up into smaller sections. There are two ways you can approach this section, first is to read the questions before listening to the audio, the second is to read the questions after listening to it the first time. This really is a choice about how you tend to listen better, if you feel like by reading the questions beforehand you become too fixated on certain words, then try reading the questions after. Alternatively, as you listen to it the first time, really pay attention without focusing heavily on writing down notes. It helps to give you an idea of the overall theme of the audio clip so you can focus on writing down key pieces of information when listening to it for the second and third time. Similar to the reading section, you can decide to answer in te reo Māori, English, and/or French. This should take a little bit of the pressure off.

Find out more on NCEA French study guide here.

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You will listen to the audio three times during the NCEA French exam.

 

Tackling NCEA Level 2 French Exam Questions

Similar to level 1, the exam is divided into two sections, reading and listening. A big difference is the type of texts you will be reading and listening to. With three hours to work through two assessments, utilise your time wisely and make sure you take your time to understand what you are reading and listening to. Read through the marking section, and plan your responses accordingly. The marking schedule focuses on demonstrating an understanding (achieved), clear understanding (merit), thorough understanding (excellence) of a variety of texts. So support your answers with evidence!

When you break down the listening section, you only have a few things to do; listen, take notes, answer questions. Which is only three things if you really think about it. Definitely doable. You will be given time to quickly review the questions before and between the listening sections. Bullet points are your friend in this situation. Trying to write full sentences takes up too much concentration and time, making it difficult to keep pace with the dialogue. Use the note-taking section to your advantage and bullet point the main ideas of the speakers and their reasoning. Keywords are a great thing to keep an ear out for, especially if they are related to an emotional response. If you are wondering, oh can I write in te reo Māori or English, and/or French? You 100% can.

Level 2 follows the same structure as level 1 except the extracts you are given are a lot more complicated. There are more soutenus mots within the texts, so take your time reading through the articles in case you may be led astray by the format of the sentence.  When it comes to formatting your responses, stay with a SEXY approach (Statement, eXplanation, Example, Your opinion). It keeps the structure of your response intact and reminds you to support what you are saying with evidence. As you read through the questions, the words justify makes an appearance often. As a level 2 student, you need to do more than repeat information, you are expected to be able to engage and reformat it with a sense of purpose and control.

Check out some NCEA French scholarship guide here.

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Tackling NCEA Level 3 French Exam Questions

As the end of the year approaches, so does the end of the NCEA system. While this may not be your final exam (check out our guide on the NCEA French scholarship exam), for most it will be the final year. As a level 3 French student, you are operating at around a B1 level in relation to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Not an easy feat so congratulations! Now it is time to tackle these questions. Like the previous years, there are two assessments geared around reading and listening comprehension. You can choose which language you wish to write in (te reo Māori, English, and/or French). And we see a similar marking schedule with demonstrating understanding, clear understanding, and thorough understanding.

The trick is not to get complacent. The written extracts and audio will challenge you as a skill set you are tested on is your ability to understand. So if you come across a word you don’t know, read around it. Find the theme or key idea in the sentence or paragraph and connect it to your prior knowledge. Try to steer clear on becoming fixated on a word. If you are struggling, move on to the next question and come back to it later. For both exam papers, justifying your response is extremely important. As a level 3 student, your evidence needs to be integrated. Explain how it supports your response. When you are listening to the audio section, focus on bullet pointing information such as opinions, emotions, reactions, and beliefs. Information that will help to answer the question in detail.

Break the questions down into a series of tasks. For example, Explain what effects the mayor and the tourist think this award will have on Cassel. Justify your answer with evidence from the passage. This question comes from the 2020 listening exam. You need to keep an ear out for the possible effects of this award from the viewpoints of tourists, and the viewpoints of the mayor. Now you have the evidence. Time to explain it. Here you reword the question to create your statement sentence, The mayor believes the effects of this award will have on Cassel are… You should aim to have a minimum of three effects. Now to justify it or the explanation… He believes that this will happen because…

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