ISEB Common Entrance spanish Exam


Common Entrance Spanish is divided into listening, speaking, reading and writing. The key aspects that students should focus on are revision of topic areas and grammar. There are four assessment objectives, which are specified for students. Please find our full breakdown of CE Spanish, as well as the requisite assessment details and objectives below.

Topic Areas

• language of the classroom
• house, home, daily routine and chores
• life and work at school
• time, dates, numbers and prices
• personal description
• family, friends and pets
• meeting people
• free-time activities
• holiday activities
• visiting a café or restaurant
• description of a town or region
• finding the way and using transport
• shopping (e.g. for food, clothes, presents)
• weather
• pocket money
• simple health problems
• understanding tourist information

Listening (25%; about 25 minutes)

This will be based on a number of short passages recorded on a CD. Instructions will be given in English. There will be 25 questions, usually arranged in five sections. There will be a range of test-types in English: these might include multiple choice, true/false, table/grid completion, putting symbols on a map/plan, box-ticking, matching the recording with visual/verbal options, completing sentences/pictures, linking opinions with speakers, correcting a passage with mistakes highlighted, choosing correct answers or answering questions in English.

Speaking (25%)

The teacher-examiner will assess the candidate’s performance and will submit recordings of all candidates for moderation. Instructions will be printed in English.

Level 1 (about 4 minutes)

There will be a discussion of two prepared topics, each lasting about 2 minutes and chosen by the candidate from the list below:
• house, home, daily routine and chores
• free-time and holiday activities
• life and work at school
• personal description, family, friends and pets

For each topic, candidates should speak uninterrupted for approximately 30 seconds and then answer some specific, spontaneous questions (approximately 3-4 questions), bringing the time for the discussion of both topics to a total of 4 minutes.

Credit will be given for relevant communication, appropriate response to the questions and accuracy and quality of language.

Level 2 (about 6 minutes)

There will be three sections: a role-play situation; a discussion of one prepared topic and an open, unprepared conversation.

Section 1: Role-Play situation (about 2 minutes; 9 marks)

Ten minutes before the test, the examiner gives each candidate, at random, one situation from the three which are set, ensuring that all the situations are used equally. The candidate is required to carry out six tasks in Spanish which have been given in English. Past tenses are not required in this exercise. One of the tasks is unpredictable and requires the candidate to respond, unprepared, to the examiner’s question. The role-plays may be based on any area of the syllabus, and are of a transactional or social nature, such as conversations in a shop, at the station, in a café/restaurant etc., or discussing hobbies, school or family etc. with a Spanish friend.
The examiner gives a mark (out of 6) for completion of the tasks and a mark (out of 3) for accuracy and quality of language. A bilingual dictionary is provided for candidate use during the preparation time, but no written notes may be taken into the room, nor may any written notes be made during the preparation time. Candidates have a quiet place in which to prepare and no access is given to reference materials, notes or other candidates.

Section 2: Prepared topic (about 2 minutes; 8 marks)

Discussion of one topic, chosen by the candidate, from the same list as Level 1 or a topic in connection with a country where Spanish is spoken:
• a town or region
• a regional or national celebration
• an artist (painter, sculptor, writer, composer etc.)
• an historical figure
• a sportsman/sportswoman

The examiner will ask the candidate to introduce the topic in Spanish. After about 30 seconds, the examiner will intervene to ask at least four questions during the course of the two minutes. Credit will be given for relevant, spontaneous communication, appropriate response to the questions and accuracy and quality of language, including pronunciation and an ability to use the present and near future tenses.

Section 3: Open conversation (about 2 minutes; 8 marks)

An open, spontaneous and unprepared discussion of any/all of the topics listed in Level 1, which should not overlap with the prepared topic. Examiners are encouraged to enable candidates to demonstrate a range of vocabulary and grammar and to develop their responses, to show their fluency and knowledge of the language.

Reading and writing (50%; 60 minutes)

Part A: Reading

Levels 1 and 2

Instructions will be given in English. There will be 25 questions on a number of short passages, arranged in five sections. There will be several exercises of differing length, covering a range of different approaches to the development of reading skills, e.g. gap-filling, multiple choice, matching headings to texts, matching pictures to descriptions, matching two halves of a sentence, matching questions and answers, matching people and opinions, choosing a number of correct answers.

Part B: Writing

Instructions will be given in English.

Level 1

There will be three sections worth a total of 25 marks. The first will contain ten sentence-completion questions and the second will require candidates to write short sentences about five pictures; the third section will ask candidates to write a few short sentences on a choice of two given topics from the syllabus.

Level 2

There will be two written exercises:

Section One (10 marks)

This question will require the writing of five simple sentences in Spanish, each based on a visual or written stimulus. Candidates should write five to ten words on each stimulus. Marks will be awarded for content, accuracy and quality of language.

Section Two (15 marks)

The question will require 80-120 words of continuous writing in the form of an email, in which candidates need to show a knowledge of present and near future tenses in order to access the top marks. Five bullet points will be given in English and Spanish, of which candidates will be expected to choose at least four.

Assessment details

Grammar level 1
Verbs: regular, irregular, common radical-changing verbs, introduction to the uses of ser and estar, common reflexive verbs, basic interrogative forms, basic negative forms, idiomatic expressions, weather expressions with hacer
Nouns: genders and plurals of common nouns, definite and indefinite articles
Adjectives: agreement, possessive, comparative
Adverbs: common adverbs, interrogative
Pronouns: subject, relative
Prepositions and conjunctions: common prepositions, common conjunctions
Numerals: cardinal numbers: 0-100, ordinal numbers 1-3, dates and time, basic quantities, basic prices

Grammar level 2 (all grammar should be learnt in addition to level 1 grammar)
Verbs: future tense with ir, preterite tense, imperfect tense, gerund and the present continuous tense, present perfect tense, negatives
Nouns: del and al, use of personal a.
Adjectives: demonstrative, possessive, indefinite.
Pronouns: direct and indirect object
Numerals: cardinal numbers 100 – 1000, ordinal numbers 4-5

Assessment objectives
The examination will test candidates’ ability to:

  • AO1 show an understanding of the spoken language dealing with a range of familiar topics, and identify and note main points and specific details, including opinions;
  • AO2 take part in short conversations, giving and obtaining information and opinions;
  • AO3 show an understanding of a number of printed items, ranging from short, simple phrases to longer, more complex texts and identify and note main points and specific details, including opinions;
  • AO4 produce pieces of writing, ranging from short phrases to longer passages in which they seek and convey information and opinions.