Words are important.
A handful of well-placed, precise words is always more effective than a plethora of sloppy, vague words.
And you’ll never be as desperate to find a precise, effective and impressive word as you will during the AP Spanish free response section.
Luckily, there are lots of great resources to help you prepare for the AP Spanish exam.
While the whole AP Spanish exam is intimidating in and of itself, at least the multiple choice section hands words to you. On the free response section, you’ll need to conjure up words all on your own. Because of this, vocabulary building is essential to getting a high score on this part of the exam.
Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing the precise focus of the free response section before exam day. All you’ll know in advance is that there are two writing sections (one that requires a response to an email, one that requires a formal argument called “presentational writing”) and two speaking sections (one that simulates a conversation, and one that requires a presentation called “presentational speaking”).
The good news is that there are some helpful terms that you can work into these sections to sound more informed and well-spoken, regardless of the topic.
How to Use This AP Spanish Vocabulary List to Prepare for Exam Day
Practice writing essays and delivering presentations in Spanish ahead of time. This is good practice no matter what. The more frequently you write and present in Spanish, the less intimidating it’ll be on the test. But to get even more out of your practice experience, make a note of which words and phrases you want to use but don’t yet know. Then, look them up and study them later.
Use the most specific words possible. When taking the AP test, it’s important to be precise. This will show your command of the language. If you don’t know the exact word you want, you can always piece together words you do know to make up for it, but if you know a more precise word, use it!
Make a point of using some less common words and phrases. Even for advanced learners, it can be easy to lean on simple words that were learned in beginning Spanish. On the AP Spanish free response section, you should try to avoid this. After all, if you’re using largely words that beginning speakers would know, the test graders will have no way to confirm that you’re at an advanced level of speaking and writing.
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Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.
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The Essential AP Spanish Vocabulary List for Free Response
Convincente means “convincing.” This will be a helpful term to use when discussing arguments in either presentational section.
Los argumentos son convincentes.
(The arguments are convincing.)
Argumento (argument) is a word that isn’t very advanced, but it’s very useful. You can use it on the presentational speaking or writing sections to refer to your argument or the arguments in the reference materials.
Los argumentos de la oposición no son convincentes.
(The arguments of the opposition are not convincing.)
Ensayo means “essay.” While this isn’t a terribly advanced word, it’s helpful for the presentational speaking and writing sections. You might use ensayo to discuss the provided review materials or to refer to your essay itself.
El ensayo sobre la inmigración es muy convincente.
(The essay on immigration is very convincing.)
Punto (point) is also not super advanced vocabulary, but it’s often overlooked by AP students and you’ll almost definitely need it. Like argumento, you can use punto in the presentational speaking and writing sections. You’ll use it to refer to a more specific point in your argument or in the arguments from reference materials.
El punto sobre la reforma económica no es fuerte.
(The point about economic reform is not strong.)
Presentación means “presentation.” This will be helpful during the presentational speaking section when you want to refer back to your presentation.
Esta presentación ilustra la importancia del compromiso.
(This presentation illustrates the importance of commitment.)
Mejor dicho literally means “better said,” but it’s often used to mean “rather.” While it would work in any of the free response sections, it will be a really useful term to have in your arsenal for the speaking sections. This way, if you misspeak or realize you were vague, you can correct yourself while showing off your vocabulary.
La educación es buena, o mejor dicho, la educación mejora el futuro de los estudiantes.
(Education is good, or rather, education improves the future of students.)
Además means “furthermore” or “additionally.” Let’s face facts: It’s really just a fancier way to say también (also). Plus, it’s an easy way to transition between ideas in any of the free response sections.
Además, necesito más información para decidir.
(Additionally, I need more information to decide.)
Del mismo modo
Del mismo modo means “in the same way” or “similarly.” This is another good transitional phrase to use in any of the free response sections.
Del mismo modo, el otro artículo argumenta el mismo punto.
(Similarly, the other article argues the same point.)
While sin embargo literally means “without embargo,” it’s used like “however.” Again, this is another great transitional phrase that you can use on any free response section.
Sin embargo, algunas regulaciones son importantes.
(However, some regulations are important.)
Por lo tanto
Because you can never have too many transitional phrases, here’s another one you can use on any free response section. Por lo tanto means “thus” or “therefore.”
Los cambios eran muy caros; por lo tanto, el gobierno los canceló.
(The changes were very expensive; therefore, the government cancelled them.)
Al fin y al cabo
Al fin y al cabo means the equivalent of “in the end” or “finally.” You can use this to transition to your final point or conclusion in either presentational section.
Al fin y al cabo, todos necesitan trabajar juntos para resolver el problema.
(Finally, everyone needs to work together to resolve the problem.)
Por ejemplo means “for example.” You can use this to illustrate your points in either presentational section.
Por ejemplo, cada año hay estudiantes que no se gradúan.
(For example, every year there are students who do not graduate.)
Notablemente means “notably” or “noticeably.” This is another helpful transitional word to use on (you guessed it) any of the free response sections. However, you can also use it within a sentence to emphasize your point.
El senador estaba notablemente ausente.
(The senator was noticeably absent.)
Mensurable means “measurable.” This is a helpful term to discuss quantifiable information in either presentational section.
Diferencias mensurables existen entre estudiantes de escuelas diferentes.
(Measurable differences exist between students from different schools.)
Asegurar means “to ensure.” While you might be able to work it into any free response section, you’re most likely to be able to incorporate it in either presentational section or in the written email.
Quiero asegurar que la información está exacta.
(I want to ensure that the information is accurate.)
Tesis means “thesis,” which is the main argument of a paper. You might want to use this term when discussing the main arguments of reference materials in the presentational sections.
La tesis del autor es que cada persona necesita derechos.
(The thesis of the author is that every person needs rights.)
Suposición means “supposition” or “assumption.” This term will help you discuss other people’s arguments in the presentational section.
El argumento se basa en la suposición que todos pueden digerir el queso.
(The argument is based on the assumption that everyone can digest cheese.)
Ciertamente means “certainly.” This is a helpful term you can use to express confidence in any of the free response sections.
Ciertamente quiero torta.
(I certainly want cake.)
Significativamente means “significantly.” This can be used for emphasis in any section of the free response, but it would make the most sense in the presentational sections. Plus, it’s really long, so that’s impressive.
Las tasas han aumentado significativamente.
(The rates have increased significantly.)
Considerándolo todo literally means “considering it all,” but it’s used to mean “all in all.” This is a helpful phrase to use to segue to your conclusion in either presentational section.
Considerándolo todo, el queso es algo bueno.
(All in all, cheese is a good thing.)
En resumen means “in summary.” This is another good way to segue to your conclusion in either presentational section or to summarize what you covered in the email.
En resumen, usted no necesita comprar otra ardilla para la oficina.
(In summary, you do not need to buy another squirrel for the office.)
Analizar means “to analyze.” While it isn’t a complex word, it’s very useful to discuss material in the presentational sections.
El autor analizó los datos.
(The author analyzed the data.)
En qué medida
En qué medida means “to what extent.” This is a helpful phrase for either presentational section.
El artículo analiza en qué medida los estudiantes necesitan la tarea.
(The article analyzes to what extent students need homework.)
Parcialidad means “bias.” This is a helpful term to use on the presentational sections to discuss any uneven or slanted information.
El autor debe evaluar la información sin parcialidad.
(The author should evaluate the information without bias.)
Atentamente literally means “attentively,” but it’s used to mean “sincerely” when signing letters. It’s formal, and therefore, it’s great for signing the email section of the free response.
Atentamente, Sra. Alvarez
(Sincerely, Mrs. Alvarez)
Distinguido/a (distinguished) is a formal greeting for letters, so it’s great for the email free response.
Distinguida Sra. García,
(Distinguished Mrs. Garcia,)
Apreciado(a) means “appreciated,” but is used as a formal greeting in letters (like how we use “dear” in English). It would be an appropriate greeting for your free response email.
Apreciado Sr. Smith,
(Dear Mr. Smith,)
With these great words and some practice, you’ll be ready to rock the AP Spanish free response section.
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