The Lazy Student’s Guide to Preparing for the AP Spanish Language and Culture Examination
The AP Spanish Language and Culture Examination approaches.
Thankfully, you have your approach planned out.
Perhaps you’ll review textbooks, use workbooks and study a Spanish dictionary from cover to cover.
Or maybe you’ll opt to go the textbook-free route.
But wait. There’s a tiny wrench in your plan. It’s always that one nagging detail: work.
No matter what you do, there’s going to be work involved.
If you hate work, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s worth knowing that naturally lazy people can also be highly successful with anything, including the AP Spanish exam. You just have to be clever and work smart, not hard.
And that’s exactly what we’re going to show you here. Strategies for working smart while studying for the AP exam.
Even people who didn’t receive the lazy gene will benefit from a lazy strategy. It’s an easy way to augment any conventional learning and prepare yourself for all the aspects of the AP Spanish exam.
While there are plenty of great resources for AP Spanish practice out there, there are also some lazy-student hacks you can use to save yourself time, stress and energy.
Why Use the Lazy Approach to Studying for the AP Spanish Exam?
It’s easy. The lazy approach focuses on accidental studying—the sort of studying that happens when you don’t really notice you’re doing it. This makes it much easier than sitting down and focusing on studying, and can provide a much-needed break.
It takes less time out of your busy schedule. Many lazy techniques are flexible. This means you can fit them in when you have any amount of time available.
It offers multi-faceted practice to prepare you for reading, writing, speaking and thinking in Spanish. With all the major areas of fluency covered, the lazy approach will help you shine on the AP Spanish exam.
8 Easy Ways to Prepare for the AP Spanish Language and Culture Examination
1. Listen to Spanish-language Music
Yes, you can just leave Spanish-language music on in the background while studying or doing other activities—but you can also take things a step farther.
Listening with a focus on grammar structures will help reinforce grammar rules in your mind.
Try to memorize any song that has examples of rules you struggle to grasp. If you need to remember the rule, you can think back to the song lyrics and easily remember an example to use as a model while you take the AP Spanish exam.
Remembering a song will also help you remember vocabulary. When you’re under the pressure of the AP exam, you might even forget words you’d usually know to use. If you remember a song in which they’re sung, though, that’s much easier to remember—just think of the tune, and you’ll have the word you need in no time.
Additionally, listening to songs is good listening practice for the listening portion of the exam. You won’t always be able to understand every word, but you can figure out its meaning in context. This will prepare you for using context clues on the listening section of the AP exam.
Listening to Spanish-language music will also help you improve your pronunciation, which will help with the speaking section of the AP Spanish exam. The more you listen to native speakers, the better your pronunciation will get.
Shakira’s music is particularly helpful for studying for the AP Spanish exam. She uses more advanced vocabulary and grammar structures than many singers. Plus, her tunes are very catchy, and that will make them easier to recall during the AP exam.
2. Watch Spanish-language Television
Watching Spanish-language TV shows will help you see conversations in context, which will in turn help prepare you for the interpersonal speaking portion of the exam. This portion focuses on conversation.
While it may seem obvious, learning conversational rules and exchanges in a foreign language doesn’t always come naturally, so pay attention to how the characters exchange ideas and take turns speaking.
Additionally, watching TV will also provide you with exposure to grammar rules in context. Simply re-watch portions that have more complex grammar constructions, like unique verb conjugations, to reinforce your learning.
There are lots of great drama series to help you prepare for the AP Spanish exam. Entertaining, drama-filled telenovelas are another helpful tool if you like something fast-paced.
Try to focus on Latin American TV shows, since Latin American Spanish is more commonly used on the exam.
For example, “Yo soy Betty, la fea” (“I’m Betty, the Ugly”) is a particularly good option. This Colombian show is funny and entertaining, but also has relatively neutral Colombian accents. It follows the adventures of a young woman who’s unattractive by conventional standards, but still seeks career success in the fashion industry. The American show “Ugly Betty” is based on “Yo soy Betty, la fea,” so it may seem familiar.
3. Watch Spanish-language Movies
Like watching Spanish-language TV shows, watching Spanish-language movies will provide you with conversational language and grammar rules in context.
The main difference between movies and TV shows is length. A Spanish-language movie is longer than any episode of a TV show, so you can really get in the zone. While this will be harder to squeeze into your schedule, it also offers a more immersive Spanish experience. This immersion can help you think in Spanish, which will save you valuable time trying to conjure up words during the AP Spanish exam.
When it comes to Spanish-language movies to help you practice for the AP exam, there are a number of exceptional movie options you can go for, but again, try to focus on movies from Latin America.
4. Read Spanish-language Books
Reading Spanish-language books will help prepare you for the reading portion of the exam.
Since you can’t guess the precise nature of the reading excerpts that will be used on the exam, reading a wide variety of material will help prepare you for anything you might encounter.
Reading Spanish-language books is particularly helpful for practicing looking for context clues. No matter how much you study, invariably there will be a word on the test that you don’t know. Similarly, when you read a Spanish-language book, there will be words you don’t know. As you read your chosen book, try to guess what any unknown word means based on the context clues around it. Then, look it up in a dictionary to confirm its meaning. Once you have practice guessing word meanings in books, you’ll have less trouble doing it on the exam.
There are plenty of options for books for advanced Spanish students. You might also try focusing on the classics.
“Don Quijote” is a particularly good option. Plus, it’s in the public domain, so you can also read it for free. “Don Quijote” follows the adventures of a blundering but well-intentioned nobleman and his squire.
“Don Quijote” is a good option for several reasons:
1. It’s hilarious and entertaining.
2. The vocabulary is advanced but fairly general. This means you’ll be able to understand much of the novel; however, you can still pick up some new and highly useful words from it.
3. It’s a challenging read at times, so there will be words you don’t know. Use them to practice determining meaning based on context clues.
4. It’s one of the most frequently referenced works of literature. You might even be able to mention it or use it as a comparison for the presentational writing or speaking sections (particularly the scene in which Don Quijote fights windmills because he thinks they’re giants, from which we get the English-language expression “tilting at windmills”).
5. Keep a Spanish-language Diary
Keeping a Spanish-language diary will help you practice writing, which will prepare you for the writing portion of the exam.
Writing regularly like this will help you notice any holes in your vocabulary. Over time, you’ll naturally try to fill in these gaps or develop alternate means to communicate your ideas. Being able to communicate concepts in words you know (even if they aren’t the ideal words) is a helpful skill for the AP exam, since you won’t always know all the words you need. The more practice you have with this, the easier it will be.
Additionally, the more often you write in Spanish the more confident you’ll be, and being more confident generally increases your writing speed. This will allow you to write more quickly on the exam, and this will ultimately give you more time to think about what you’ve written and to review your work.
6. Record Yourself Speaking Spanish
Record yourself talking about anything in Spanish and then listen to the recording.
What sounded good? Where did you stumble or sound less confident?
Go back and work on any areas that could use some improvement. Over time, your speech will get better and better.
Recording yourself speaking Spanish will make you more comfortable not only speaking Spanish but also recording what you say—both great results, since you’ll need to do both on the speaking section of the AP exam.
7. Tutor Another Spanish Student
On the surface, tutoring another student may seem like it would only be beneficial for that student. Guess again!
Preparing to teach a topic actually helps you learn that topic better than ever.
Going over grammar rules with another student will help you cement them in your mind. You’ll never be better at Spanish than you’ll be once you’ve gone over grammar rules again and again with someone, and once you’ve had to answer questions and consider all the little details.
By the time the AP test rolls around, you’ll have a firm grasp on any rules you previously struggled with. Plus, you’ll look all altruistic, which is a definite side-benefit.
8. Correspond with Someone in Spanish
Online language exchange is a tremendously beneficial way to improve your writing.
Find someone online or correspond with a Spanish-speaking friend. Try to find an advanced or native speaker, since you’ll want someone who models good Spanish skills—you wouldn’t want to pick up any bad habits before the exam!
Corresponding with someone in Spanish regularly will improve your reading and writing, which will help prepare you for the exam in general.
You’ll get used to all the words you need to interact with someone in writing. What’s more, experience writing emails and letters will be particularly helpful for the interpersonal writing portion of the exam, which requires that you reply to a business email.
So with these easy, lazy-student hacks, you can prepare for the AP Spanish exam without cracking a textbook.
Pretty great, right?
Now it’s time to get started!