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What to Expect from a Spanish Test: SAT Spanish

By Jon, published on 05/03/2018 We Love Prof - AU > Languages > Spanish > What Does the Spanish SAT Subject Test Look Like?

The time for preparing your college application can be particularly stressful. Apart from the application itself, you have to stay on top of all of your school subjects, at the same time as doing SAT prep and the practice tests that go with it.

Mathematics is a staple SAT test for most people, but don’t underestimate the utility of the Spanish Subject Test. It is a great way to highlight your knowledge of Spanish and demonstrate your interest in the Spanish language during the college-admission process.

Plus, it could give you a head start in college by allowing you to fulfil basic language competency requirements, or place out of introductory-level Spanish courses.

There are many different ways to study for your Spanish SAT. You could revise with a Spanish tutor, do online Spanish practice papers, or even buy a book to make sure you are ready to go on test day.

But before you start any of this, you will need to know what to expect from the Spanish SAT test.

What are the Anticipated Skills when Taking a Spanish Test?

Any standardized test will have been designed to test a specific set of skills. The curriculum will be built around this, and you will need to ensure that if your weaknesses lie in these areas, that you improve them quickly so that they become your strengths.

When it comes to the Spanish SAT test, being able to use basic idioms based on a given context or grammatical structure is of the utmost importance. As is the ability to be able to select a word or phrases when given the same context or grammatical situation.

Part of the SAT Spanish test is even based on vocabulary and structure questions whereby you have to select words from a set of multiple choice options in order to make a sentence grammatically correct.

Naturally, learning Spanish will develop some of these skills through practice, but you shouldn’t underestimate Spanish grammar or the importance of building your vocabulary when doing your prep for your Spanish test.

You are recommended to have at least three years of Spanish education under your belt before you come to take the Spanish SAT subject test.

Vocabulary Words

Here are some examples of lists of vocabulary words that you could learn in order to advance on your SAT Subject Test studying. They are pretty basic.

Places (Lugares)

el aeropuerto airport panaderia pastry shop
lapanadería bakery el parque park
el banco bank la farmácia pharmacy
la playa beach la estación de la policía police station
el café cafe los correos post office
la iglesia church la piscina pool
la fábrica factory el restaurante restaurant
el gardín garden la escuela school
almacén grocery store el estadio stadium
el hogar home tienda store
la hospital hospital la estación del tren train station
la biblioteca library pasillo de ciudad town hall
el mercado market librería bookstore
el cine movie theater parque zoológico zoo

Business (Negocio)

la officina office el intercambio de modernidad currency exchange
la ciudad city las aduanas customs
la renta the rent la entrada entrance
el impuesto tax el salido exit
la cuesta the cost la información information
el précio price pagar to pay
la cuenta bill comprar to buy
la estimación estimate vender to sell
el cheque check costar to cost
el cheque de viajar travelers check alquiler to rent
el passaporte passport depositar to deposit
el equipaje luggage/baggage


Transportation (Transporte)

en avión by airplane motor engine
en bicicleta by bicycle llanta wheel
en barco by boat mapa map
en bus by bus los direcciones directions
en automovíl by car acelerar to accelerate
a pie on foot retardarse to break
en ciclomotor by moped parar to stop
en motocicleta by motorcycle ir to go
en subterráneo by subway dar vuelta a la izqierda turn left
en taxi by taxi dar vuelta a la derecha turn right
en tren by train ir derecho go straight


Try to learn Spanish vocabulary by grouping world together by topic It’s important to know how to say words like “casa”, “jardín”, “puerta”, and “garaje,” which are all related to the home.


House and Furniture (Casa y Muebles)

la casa house la mesa table
el apartamento apartment la silla chair
el cuarto room sofá couch
la sala living room escritorio desk
la cocina kitchen lavaplatos dishwasher
cuarto de cenar dining room el puerto door
vestíbulo hallway la luz light
escaleras stairs cama bed
el baño bathroom manta blanket
bañera bathtub televisión television
ducha shower el rádio radio
la pila sink la refrijedora refrigerator
azotea roof estufa stove
armario closet el horno oven
la ventana window la basura garbage
la pared wall microonda microwave


Religion (Religión)

el ángel angel el judaismo Judaism
el bautismo baptism el monasterio monastery
la biblia Bible el Pápa Pope
el obispo bishop la profeta prophet
el buddismo Buddhism el protestante Protestant
el catedral cathedral la religión religion
el cristianismo Christianity el sermón sermon
la iglesia church el templo temple
la fe faith cantar to sing
el Diós God adorar to worship
el cielo heaven orar to pray
el infierno hell arrepentirse to repent (reflexive)


Everyone learns Spanish in their own way The best way to learn Spanish for you might be through books

How to Learn Spanish Vocabulary Effectively

Language exams can be stressful if you are under prepared. You don’t want to look down at your paper and see a word that you don’t know. If you are looking at scoring highly, you need to take your test prep seriously in order to excel on your Spanish test. Learning vocabulary is one of the cornerstones of doing this, so you’ll need to know how to learn new Spanish words.

1. Learn new Spanish words in context

There is no sense in just repeating words mindlessly! You want to understand the word you are learning. So make sure to look at it in a sentence or a paragraph.

2. Learn new Spanish words with audio material

Make sure you listen to the words being spoken aloud so that you don’t start memorizing the wrong pronunciation. It’s essential that you do this quickly because once the pronunciations sticks, you could find yourself repeating something wrong over and over again.

3. Do lots of repetitions

Speaking of repeating, make sure that you repeat over and over again in order to really let the words sink in to your memory. This is the same approach that you might take in math when it comes to memorising how to do various parts of algebra or geometry. After all, they say that practice makes perfect.

4. Learn new Spanish nouns with their article

Make sure you take a look at the article. The article makes a big difference in Spanish. You need to know whether the word is masculine or feminine. This is something you’ll need to be able to do long before you do any practice questions.

5. Learn new Spanish words by saying them out loud

It is always good to enunciate words when learning them. Get a feel for them by saying them out loud, and preferably to a native speaker so they can maybe correct you if need be.

SAT Spanish Practice: What is the Format of the Test?

Bear in mind that when you are reading about the SAT in Spanish, you will see two options. The first first has no listening component, whereas the second does.

Spanish Subject Test

The Spanish subject test contains no listening element, and you’ll have one hour to answer 85 multiple choice questions. There are aspects which are tested, each making up about a third of the overall exam; vocabulary and structure, paragraph completion, and reading comprehension.

In the vocabulary and structure and the paragraph completion, you will need to select one of the multiple choice options to complete a sentence or paragraph so that it is grammatically and contextually correct.

The reading comprehension questions are based on fiction and non-fiction texts, as well as on current themes taken from magazines and newspapers.

Spanish with Listening Subject Test

You also have one hour to answer 85 multiple choice questions on the Spanish with listening subject test. It follows the same format as the Spanish subject test, except that you have 40 minutes to do the reading section based on the parts described above, and 20 minutes to do the listening section.

The reading section is worth 60% of the overall score, and the listening section makes up the other 40%.

The listening section itself has three parts. In part A, you have to pick the sentence that best describes what is shown in a photograph. In part B, you will have to listen to a short conversation and then say how it is likely to be continued. And part C contains comprehension questions based on much longer listening extracts.

Please note that you can only take the Spanish with listening subject test in November, and you’ll need to bring a portable CD player, earphones, and spare batteries with you on the day of the test.

You can find more information and a sample of a practice test for both of the options described here in the SAT Subject Tests’ Student Guide.

Required Competencies For the Spanish SAT Subject Test

Is it necessary to be bilingual in order to pass the Spanish SAT Subject test? Hopefully not. The exam is there to assess your ability for comprehension and expression.

Can studying the language abroad help? Yes and no. If you plan to leave during the Easter holidays, you may as well say that it is too late knowing that the test is so soon! However, if it’s during the summer before senior year in high school, it could definitely be worth it. Speaking Spanish in real life will make you feel more comfortable once you sit down in front of the SAT Subject Test.

Keep it simple. You don’t need to try and deploy overly complex grammatical structures, or attempt convoluted sentences. You risk getting confused and/or appearing presumptuous. You should probably also avoid humour, which could mean that you are misunderstood.

Humour is often very language and context dependant What if your jokes were totally misunderstood by a Spanish person? Wouldn’t you feel irked…

How to Revise for Spanish: More Information on the SAT Subject Test

We have already noted the difference between the Spanish subject test and the Spanish with listening subject test, but what we didn’t mention is that colleges and universities often say that the Spanish with listening subject test gives them a better idea of the student’s ability, which makes it more useful for them as a placement test when they are considering college admissions.

The idea in both subject tests is that the language used is that of everyday life, but they aim to steer clear of all regional or currently specific vocabulary and slang. The guideline of 3 years Spanish education is given as a benchmark after which you should have learnt a sufficient amount to do well on the test.

But nobody says you can’t take supplemental Spanish lessons London in addition to any school curriculum!

Remember, as you prepare for your Spanish SAT test, the scores given are irrelevant when compared to where you learnt Spanish, or how much you might know that you didn’t show in the exam. The exam tests you on your ability on a given day, and therefore you need to make sure that you are completely prepared prior to this day. And also remember that to receive the highest score in the SATs you don’t have to answer every single question correctly. There is some room for manoeuvre on this front.

Please also check with each individual college to find out how they will use the scores for admission purposes as foreign language subject tests are used differently by different institutions.

Finally, when revising for Spanish exams, regardless of what the exam is, make sure you have the grammatical foundations in place, and keep building your vocabulary to limit the probability that you will come across a key word in the exam and not have a clue what it means.


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