AP language exams usually have a high enrollment rate, and among those, the AP French Language and Culture exam is one of the more popular choices. It is only seconded by the Spanish exam.
More than 23,000 students took part in the AP French Language exam in 2019, amongst which 75% were already enrolled in their school's foreign language classes.
Suppose you're contemplating appearing for the exam. In that case, you might need to unlearn whatever you know about the other AP language exams, as the French one is quite different.
You might be thinking that it is just another AP exam; however, it comes with multiple challenging questions that seem familiar yet entirely new at the same time.
Of course, the main difference is that it's in a completely new language, and the fact that everyone around you is more or less in the same boat doesn't help.
Therefore, before moving on to what you need to do to prepare for your AP French Language exam, let us first discuss what the AP French exam is:
What Is The AP French Language And Culture Exam
The primary purpose of the AP French Language and Culture exam is to promote both accuracy and fluency in the use of the French language.
To help newcomers hit the ground running, the entire course is also taught in French; this means that the resources, guidelines, and even explanations are furnished in French.
The course requires students to listen and read authentic texts from all over the Francophone world.
Additionally, priority testing of the AP French language exam is based on three foundational communication methods. These three modes are:
Another issue that arises when choosing to learn a foreign language is that candidates tend to focus all their attention on the grammatical nuances.
To aid this, the AP course clearly advises students not to overemphasize grammatical accuracy at the cost of communication.
Therefore, despite having a separate section to test grammar in the AP, the test prioritizes measuring each candidate's general communication skills.
And to help you prepare for that, here are some valuable tips:
5 Tips To Prepare For Your AP French Exam
Here is a guide to help you prepare for your AP French Language and Culture Exam in a school environment so you can excel further:
1. Skills Assessment
Assessing your skills is the first step in preparing for any exam, and the fastest way to achieve this is by taking a practice test.
Even though college boards don't provide complete practice tests, you can still find sample questions with thorough course descriptions.
Furthermore, there are multiple free practice questions on the internet. You might also come across diagnostic or practice exams while looking for commercial study guides.
2. Studying The Theory
Candidates shouldn't treat AP French as "just another exam," for best results, it's essential to immerse yourself entirely in the French culture and language.
That means listening, speaking, and reading as much French as you can, and there are several fun ways to do that:
- Find enthralling French books in your local library
- Watch movies and television shows in French
- There are also numerous YouTube videos you can watch in French
- Read the French news (such as Le Monde)
- Listen to podcasts in French
- Follow and read French blogs
- Try to search for engaging information sources in French and use them as much as you can
By exposing yourself to the French language without hesitation, you will be surprised by how much your reading and conversational skills will improve.
Furthermore, college boards tend to provide sources to help you prepare for your AP French Language exam. You can also listen to the sample audio French files that they offer.
And to strategize your learning by knowing what areas to focus on, you can also go for a commercial study guide.
There are multiple study guides with complete kits present on the internet; however, choosing between them for your specific needs can be challenging.
3. Practicing Multiple-Choice Questions
Once you are done with the theory, it is now time to test your knowledge by practicing multiple-choice questions.
These can be found in most study guides or via online searches on the internet. You also have the option of trying to take the multiple-choice section of a different practice exam.
The official college board website also offers several practice questions complete with answer keys and explanations.
And as you go through them, focus on keeping track of the areas that are still proving difficult for you. Once you find where the problem lies, go back to that portion of the theory again.
Understand and focus on what the question is asking and make a running list of elements of the vocabulary you are still unfamiliar with.
4. Practicing Free Response Questions
The AP French Language and Culture exam is quite different. Your preparation for the free-response section in this exam differs significantly from that of the other AP exams.
Even though you would still have to practice some of the responses in writing, you would also have to practice your oral answers and listening skills.
Regardless, your free-response preparation should start with you brushing up on your grammar and vocabulary.
Don't fret, though; there are multiple applications and websites that can help you with this. Some great e-learning platforms will offer free online flashcards to enhance your vocabulary skills.
Furthermore, it would help if you directed your focus towards learning verbs. This will streamline your use of both the formal and conversational tones and provide you practice material to use in diverse contexts.
Even though you won't be officially provided a score on grammar; however, you still have to communicate, so focus on getting your point across effectively.
Repeated practice prompts are the best way to prepare for written prompts. The College Boards' official website hosts tons of past exam prompts from as far back as 2012.
While you are on the website, check out links in the Student Performance Q&A section. These links will provide you a unique perspective on the AP French Exam.
Here you can find past performances on free-response questions, addressing precise concepts that students struggled with and summarizing the most common errors they made.
The oral portion of the free-response section is possibly the hardest to prepare for as it is near-impossible to measure one's own speaking abilities.
The most commonly suggested practice method is to record your sample answers via past exam prompts and replaying them after reviewing the scoring criteria.
You can also do this activity in a group of two to compare each other's responses and provide constructive criticism.
Another less direct preparation method is making sure that you speak and hear as much French as you can daily.
5. Taking Another Practice Test
You probably started your studying by taking a practice test to know where you stand. Now it is time to take a practice test to evaluate how far you have come!
Doing so will help you observe steady progression in the knowledge you have accumulated, and you may improve your overall learning patterns through this technique.
Although it's an integral part of preparations, your school may not stress doing practice questions as much as you should!
You would also be able to indicate which areas still require improvement. Therefore, it is better to repeat the steps, again and again, to improve your score incrementally.
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