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«The statistics used in this report are prior to the outcome of any Post Results Services requests This report provides information on the performance ...»

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External Assessment Report 2014

Subject(s) Spanish

Level(s) Advanced Higher

The statistics used in this report are prior to the outcome of any Post Results Services


This report provides information on the performance of candidates which it is hoped will be

useful to teachers/lecturers in their preparation of candidates for future examinations. It is

intended to be constructive and informative and to promote better understanding. It would be helpful to read this report in conjunction with the published question papers and marking instructions for the examination.

Comments on candidate performance General comments The Examining Team is pleased to see that the number of candidates being presented for Spanish at Advanced Higher level has remained fairly steady despite a slight decrease this year from 248 in 2013 to 239.

There were 12 new centres presenting in 2014 and 10 returning centres.

There were no significant setting issues for the 2014 paper and no changes to the experienced setting and vetting teams.

Speaking As in previous years, candidates did very well in this skill area. This year’s cohort managed to achieve a very good average mark of 37.8 out of 50.

Folio A reasonable range of texts and topics were attempted and candidates performed slightly better in this component as compared to last year, averaging a score of 17.9 out of 30, an increase of 0.7 of a mark.

Paper I Reading and Translation In general, candidates responded favourably to this paper, especially when answering the comprehension questions. The vast majority engaged well with the subject matter of the text, which related to the transfer of unwanted electronic goods from Europe to Africa.

It was gratifying to note that more candidates tended to perform better in the inferential question this year. Nevertheless, as in previous years, a number of them found the passage for translation fairly demanding.

Paper II Listening and Discursive Writing The performance of candidates in the Listening component was broadly comparable with previous years. On average this year, candidates appeared to do better in Part B than in Part A.

In Discursive Writing, the standard was comparable to that in 2013, although a fair number of candidates scored only a maximum mark of 16 as a result of not addressing the question fully and relying instead on the reproduction of learned material.

The Examining Team was satisfied to observe that all essay titles were attempted, the most popular choices being Question 1 on the influence of TV, internet, friends and advertising on young people; Question 3 on closing parts of the city to traffic; and Question 5 on new family structures.

2 Areas in which candidates performed well Speaking Most candidates were again comfortable and confident in the language, with only a minority failing to score 30 or more out of 50. Fluency and readily taking the initiative were features of good performances. The vast majority of candidates were enthusiastic and well prepared.

Many candidates appeared motivated to do well, made good use of learned material, were enterprising in their attempts to go beyond minimal responses, and also incorporated some useful and interesting discussion techniques into their conversation with the Visiting Assessor. Candidates were at ease with the method of assessment.

Folio Presentation of Folio work was good overall. As before, the study of literary texts was tackled more successfully than background topics. The best essays had a question/title that genuinely led candidates to adopt an analytical approach or allowed for two sides of an argument to be developed, eg a focus on a particular scene in a play/novel and its effect on the work overall. Folio pieces also often worked better when there was an element of comparing and contrasting, eg two characters in a novel/play, two aspects of the same character, or some analysis of poetry. Essays that stood out from the others were those which were well structured, displayed a good level of English, and provided accurate/justified quotation from the text.

Reliable bibliographies containing three or more references to sources were also a feature of good practice.

Paper I Reading and Translation Candidates generally responded well to the comprehension questions, especially Questions 2, 3, and 5, providing detailed and accurate responses.

Question 6, the inferential question, was also fairly well done, with the some candidates providing a good balance in their answers between the writer’s standpoint and the techniques used to substantiate this. Sense units 2 and 8 in the Translation section seemed more accessible than the others to this year’s cohort.

Paper II Listening and Discursive Writing Listening Overall, candidates attempted all questions in both parts of the Listening component.

In Part A, candidates generally had success when answering Question 1 and in Part B, Questions 1, 2, 3 and 6 were answered well.

Discursive Writing On the whole, essays were well structured and written in paragraphs. Candidates generally achieved good results when they incorporated appropriate learned material into their answer and when their essays were relevant to the question.

Candidates who chose to write on la revolución familiar, and those who fully addressed the titles on ‘what influences young people most’ and ‘traffic exclusion zones’, came up with

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Appropriate linking structures and phrases relating to expressing opinions were features of good practice, eg me inclino a creer/cabe destacar que etc.

Areas which candidates found demanding Speaking Despite this being the skill area where candidates generally do well, some still have difficulty in manipulating and adapting learned material to cope with questions they are asked.

Folio Many candidates still find it difficult to select a title or essay question which generates debate or critical analysis appropriate to Advanced Higher level. A small number provided no title at all. Titles are sometimes over-ambitious or too general. There continues to be a large number of candidates who adopt an obvious approach which tends to generate a one-sided argument with a predictable conclusion.

A significant number of candidates do not proof-check their work effectively in English and especially when quoting in Spanish from a literary text.

Often, particularly when tackling background topics, the content is (almost exclusively) factual and not analytical. Candidates should avoid making sweeping generalisations or assertions without evidence to support the argument.

Paper I Reading and Translation General In the Reading passage, candidates experienced some difficulty by not checking the dictionary for the meaning of ‘false friends’ like residuos and pilas.

Overall, when answering the comprehension questions, although candidates were spotting the ‘hooks’ in the questions, they quite often were unable to identify the piece of text that contained the answer, and were let down by their poor English. Some answers, like those for Question 4, did not contain enough detail.

Question 6 Inferential question As in previous years, candidates who did less well provided information from the text rather than attempting to draw inferences. Some found it difficult to express their ideas through the use of ‘inferential’ type language, or to focus on the writer’s techniques which reinforced his standpoint, eg use of rhetorical questions, statistics, the irony of donaciones etc.

Disappointing performances in this question were characterised by poor English.

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Unit 1: translation of the passive was generally not well done with se consumen often mistranslated as ‘they consume’ or ‘they consumed’.

Units 5 and 6: there were problems with the superlatives los países más ricos y poderosos and los países más pobres. A large number of candidates failed to achieve 2 marks for each of these.

Unit 9: brecha was mistranslated as ‘breach’, and a number of candidates missed translating the word objetivo.

Verb forms on the whole presented candidates with difficulties in this section.

Paper II Listening and Discursive Writing Listening Part A Question 2 in this section presented candidates with problems as they did not provide sufficient detail in their answers, either by not picking up on casos urgentes or by mistranslating menores de edad as ‘minorities’, ‘infants’ or ‘younger generation’. In Question 3, an insufficient knowledge of numbers was a problem with 500 millones posing difficulties.

In Question 4, many lost a mark by confusing Suecia with Suiza and writing Switzerland incorrectly in their answer. Some candidates also wrote Australia for Austria.

Listening Part B Questions 4(a), 5 and 7 caused difficulties for candidates.

In Question 4(a), many had problems with the number 1800.

In Question 5(a) some candidates failing to identify the number 710.

For Question 5(b), few candidates gained the mark as they misunderstood que paguen sus embajadas o países de origen and rendered this as ‘go back to their country of origin’.

In Question 7, a fair number of candidates did not recognise the term ‘IVA’ as VAT for the second mark.

Discursive Writing A fair number of essays exceeded the word limit. Although there is no penalty for doing this, overlong essays tend to be self-penalising with candidates making basic errors, especially towards the end, perhaps as they felt they were running out of time.

As in previous years, candidates ran into difficulties when going beyond prepared material and this led on occasion to them not fully addressing the question.

In essays this year, there was some unidiomatic translation from English into Spanish, and poor control of tenses/verbs as well as misuse of parts of the verb Gustar. Other major

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The word Aunque was quite often used to begin a sentence when Sin embargo would have been more appropriate. Similarly porque was used instead of a causa de and there was confusion over the use of influir, influye and influencia, especially in Question 1.

Mistakes relating to adjectival agreement, genders of nouns like tema/sistema/planeta and problema, and the omission of pronouns were also apparent in performances in Discursive Writing this year. Misuse of the dictionary was evident in the essays which achieved Satisfactory or less. There was occasional other-tongue interference (mostly from French).

Negative expressions eg tampoco, sino etc were not used appropriately.

Essays that were repetitive rarely did better than Satisfactory.

Advice to centres for preparation of future candidates General Share all criteria/GRC/pegged marks/performance descriptors etc and SQA documentation with candidates. Incorporate Exemplification of Standards and Professional Development Workshop materials into lessons. Encourage candidates to make full use of the SQA website, especially by referring to External Assessment Reports for AH Spanish from the last couple of years as well as the Marking Instructions for specific past question papers.

Candidates should be reminded that handwriting needs to be clearly legible to ensure marks awarded equate to content.

Speaking Sustain the good work in preparing candidates for this assessment, but perhaps with an increasing focus on grammatical accuracy, particularly with regard to use of verbs (especially the preterite and the perfect), gender of nouns, adjectival agreements, use of Ser and Estar and the subjunctive. Continue to train candidates in discussion techniques in the language to enable them to deal with any question that goes beyond their ‘comfort zone’ of learned material. If a candidate speaks about a background topic in the assessment, it would be more interesting if ideas were presented in a Spanish context (eg role of women in Spain as opposed to just in Scotland).

Folio The choice of a title for the two Folio pieces for the Extended Reading/Viewing (ERV) Unit continues to be of crucial importance. The title should not be over-ambitious, or vague or too general, but should generate a discursive/evaluative approach. Try to avoid obvious titles like eg Oppression in La Casa de Bernarda Alba, The Comic and the Tragic in El Coronel No

–  –  –

It would be advisable to offer candidates from the same centre a choice of essay titles to ensure more individual responses if they are studying the same text or background topic.

For the ERV Unit, either try to encourage candidates to study two literary texts or to tackle their background topic in a manner which provides less focus on information and more on evaluation. The approach to each Folio piece/essay needs to reflect a level of demand appropriate to Advanced Higher.

Candidates should be advised against tackling background topics where they make sweeping generalisations which are not substantiated and with no reference to source.

Discourage candidates from choosing to study only one poem or song as a literary text or only one film as a background topic. Many candidates did not score well in essays of this type as their approach tended to be limiting, mostly narrative and one-dimensional.

Conclusions to essays should be given a lot of attention. A weak or poorly articulated conclusion may mean the difference between a Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory performance.

Centres are reminded that candidates who submit two essays on the same literary text will be awarded zero for one of the pieces.

Many of the Folio pieces would benefit from the inclusion of more quotations in Spanish to support the arguments being developed. English translations of quotations are not required.

Quotations from a literary text which are solely in English could detract from the content and may even lead to the candidate being awarded zero if it is felt he/she has not read the text in Spanish.

Candidates should develop the quality and breadth of their bibliographies overall, eg Wikipedia (without mention of a website), a reference to a newspaper (on its own with no article noted), and ‘teachers’ notes’ do not constitute appropriate items for a bibliography.

More care and attention is needed when proof-checking in relation to the use of English, spelling, typing errors and punctuation as well as accuracy in quotation from literary texts.

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