Spanish

Everyday activities: School life

How does your school routine compare with life in a Spanish speaking school? Exam questions sometimes ask you about this. This exercise gives you useful tips so you'll be able to answer a typical exam question.

Sample question

Question

Hace dos meses pasaste une semana en un colegio español. Ahora tienes que escribir un artículo para la revista del colegio, dando tus impresiones y comparándolo con tu colegio en Gran Bretaña.

Escribe aproximadamente 150 palabras.

TemaDetalles
Mañana clases 9.00 - 12.30
Recreo 30 minutos
Comida no hay cantina
Tarde clases 16.00 - 18.00
Deberes 2 horas
Jueves tarde no hay clase
Sábado mañana Clase
Vacaciones
  1. Navidad - 2 semanas
  2. Semana Santa - 2 semanas
  3. Verano - más de 2 meses

Click to reveal an example answer. You may want to read the examiner's advice first.

toggle answer

Answer

Section A

Hace dos meses visité a mi amiga española, Marisol, y pasé una semana en un colegio español. Fue muy interesante. Por la semana teníamos clases de las nueve a las doce y medía, con un recreo de treinta minutos.

Section B

Como no había cantina, normalmente Marisol y yo comíamos en casa. Por la tarde las clases duraban de las cuatro a las seis. Después de volver a casa, Marisol tenía que hacer dos horas de deberes.

Section C

Claro que había algunas ventajas y otras desventajas. Lo mejor fue que el jueves no había clase, pero lo peor fue que el sébado por la mañana, había clase.

Section D

En cuanto a las vacaciones, los alumnos españoles tienen más que nosotros. Tienen dos semanas en Navidad, dos semanas en Semana Santa y más de dos meses en verano. ¡Me gustaría ser un alumno español en julio!

Examiner's advice - break down your answer

Section A

Hace dos meses pasaste une semana en un colegio español - see points 1-3.

TemaDetallesRefer to
Mañanaclases 9.00 - 12.30Points 4-5
Recreo30 minutosPoints 6-7

Points to help you:

  1. The question does give you most of your introduction, but don't forget to change the verb to refer to yourself.
  2. If necessary, add something extra to set the scene.
  3. Where times or parts of the day are referred to, extend them to make suitable expressions of time.
  4. You are writing about what the Spanish school was like, so use the imperfect tense. Use the first person plural to say what we did.
  5. Write any numbers as words.
  6. Try to link sentences where possible.
  7. Don't forget to add the article.

Section B

TemaDetallesRefer to
Comidano hay cantinaPoints 1-3
Tardeclases 16.00 - 18.00Point 4
Deberes2 horasPoint 5

Points to help you

  1. Sometimes you may have to change the tense from the one in the notes.
  2. You may need to use the verb comer instead of the noun comida.
  3. Be prepared to make some guesses of your own. If there was no canteen where did the pupils eat? Probably at home!
  4. More expressions of time needed here.
  5. Did you do the homework as well? If not, refer to Marisol and show you can use a different verb ending.

Section C

TemaDetallesRefer to
Jueves tardeno hay clasePoints 1-3
Sébado mañanaclasePoints 4-6

Points to help you:

  1. Don't just stick to the notes here. Add something to introduce the next point. It's time to give your opinion.
  2. If necessary, add something extra to set the scene.
  3. Remember to change the tense to fit.
  4. This time use something else (pero) to link your sentences.
  5. Which expressions of time should you use?
  6. Don't forget to put an article before the days of the week.

Section D

VacacionesDuración
Navidad2 semanas
Semana Santa2 semanas
Veranomás de 2 meses

Points to help you:

  1. You are now talking about the situation generally, so you probably need to use the present tense.
  2. Remember to compare Spanish and English holidays.
  3. Show that you know the difference between más...de (used with a number) and más que (used in other situations).
  4. Finish by giving your own opinion.
  5. Take this opportunity to put in another different tense.

Exam tips

You will generally be told about how many words to write. Take note of this because you won't get any more marks for writing too much and you may lose marks for writing too little.

Use what you're given. The question and the notes both give you lots of language that you can use in your answer.

Remember to adapt the information in the question so that any verbs and pronouns refer to whoever you're writing about.

If you have to work from notes, think about the way they would be set out in English and what you would have to add.

Think carefully about what tense and what person of the verb to use. Once you have decided, make sure that you use that tense and person every time it's appropriate.

After you have finished, check your work for verb endings and tenses.

In a piece of writing, numbers are generally written as words.

To make your writing more interesting, join short sentences using a link word.

To make sure of a higher grade try to use extra structures (such as different verb tenses) and vocabulary that you know.

Vocabulary

Definitions

SpanishEnglish
hace......ago
por la mañana/tardein the morning/afternoon
de...a...from...to...
después de...after....
la (des)ventaja(dis)advantage
claro que...of course...
lo mejor/peor fue quethe best/worst thing was that...
en cuanto a...as for...
más de...more than (followed by number)
más ...quemore ...than

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