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How To Succeed At Language Exams

Nobody likes exams — let alone studying for them — but these tips will help you conquer those tricky language tests with no trouble at all.
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How To Succeed At Language Exams

We all know how it goes: Your exams are quickly approaching, your stress levels are rising, and you feel like you’re running out of time to study. Unfortunately, panicking is rarely a good way to cope with stress, so if you’re studying for upcoming A-levels, DAAF or any other kind of language exams, follow these simple tricks to boost your confidence for the big day.

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Try Unconventional Techniques

Geography, history, math… they might be interesting subjects, but let’s be honest, they’re a little hard to connect to your everyday life. Languages, on the other hand, are alive. They can be used to communicate with anyone, anywhere, and at any time. If you can afford a little linguistic holiday away, go for it!

One week abroad can teach you more than an entire year sitting in class. If a quick trip to Sicily is a little beyond your budget just now, don’t despair — there are still plenty of possibilities to practice a foreign language and get immersed. For instance, try finding a partner you can practice with over Skype!

2. Prioritize Your Time Based On Your Needs

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to studying for exams. Every exam is unique, with a set of specific skills being tested. For example, being conversational in Italian might make you a pro at the spoken exam, but you’ll probably crash and burn in the written part if your grammar knowledge is lacking. If you have loads of friends who speak the language you’re learning, then you most likely learned the language in an intuitive way. You should therefore focus your study time on mastering the grammar rules.

Plan ahead, make sure you know exactly what aspects of the language are being tested on the exam itself, and prioritize your time on improving the weakest parts of your linguistic repertoire.

3. Make A Plan In Advance

Look at your schedule and build yourself a tailor-made plan that allows you ample time to focus on all areas of the language. Dedicate between 30-90 minutes a day to your language learning, and be honest about your specific needs. You might need to adjust the amount of time you spend learning grammar and vocabulary versus the amount of time you spend practicing speaking or reading. Just remember — you are the master of your own study plan, so you can always switch things up if you worry you’ll get bored. And if you thrive on routine, build yourself a clear daily agenda and stick to it!

Whatever approach you choose, the most important thing is to plan in advance so you have a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses from the start. Plus, to give yourself a little motivational boost during your review time, set yourself daily goals that you can aim for.

4. Teamwork Makes Dreamwork

Don’t be a hermit — foreign language is the perfect subject to learn in pairs or groups!

Maybe you think of yourself as a bit of rock star at listening and comprehension, but when it comes to writing you’d like nothing more than to crawl under a rock and hide? If so, try setting up a weekly study session with a classmate who excels in your weakest area (and vice versa). Teaching someone else is also one of the best ways to learn, so studying in small groups is great when preparing for an exam.

Keep the setting informal (pro tip: coffee shops are perfect), and prepare a small agenda in advance so that everyone knows what to expect. The informality of the setting will put everyone’s nerves at ease, and before you know it, your confidence will grow in leaps and bounds.

5. Turn Your Hobbies Into Fun Study Aids

This can’t be repeated enough: Languages surround us every day, so make sure you get your nose out of the books and practice learning in a variety of settings! Are you a sports fan with a penchant for Spanish football? Then check out the latest La Liga results on a Spanish website. Maybe music is more your thing? Subscribe to a Spotify playlist in the language you’re learning. Once you’ve found a song you like, try translating their lyrics into English. Not only will this expand your vocabulary, you’ll also end up learning expressions along the way and improve on your pronunciation skills.

Follow these tips and you'll be well on your way to acing those language exams!

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