Posted in English

I Hold In My Hand A Piece Of Paper

I was asked if I have a copy of past exam papers. Sadly, no I don’t because I scribbled answers on them all during revision and then recycled them when I finished the exam. There are a few scattered around the web but it’s not always easy to find them because they could be on pages of any language, not just english or portuguese. Here are the ones I know about:

Firstly, straight from a boca do cavalo, there are samples of the three sections of the paper, including an audio file of the compreensão oral test on the University of Lisboa’s site. The audio part is essential. As I’ve said in my descriptions of the tests, you definitely need to do some practice with this and figure out your strategy for reading the questions and answering them while listening in the very short time available. They play each one to you twice, but the amount of time for each one is pretty small, so it’s not the sort of thing you can just wing it through.

This site, Ensino Basico, has some dummy exam papers for levels A1, A2 and B1. They don’t look like official documents but they seem pretty realistic and they have sound files too, which is great.

This site has some different specimens of three of the four sections. The page is in italian but the papers themselves are in portuguese of course so it doesn’t matter. If you scroll down, there are three links in red. You can use ctrl+F to search for “interazione” if you want to go straight to it. No audio files, sadly.

Google also turns up a few if you are prepared to sift through the various results a bit.

This one from TELC is a pretty professional looking B1 test template. It’s not quite in the same format as the official exam but it has a similar level and some of the same exercises, at least. It feels a bit wrong that I can see it. I think these exam templates are supposed to be for sale, and I’m not sure if they even realise that this one is searchable via Google, but it is so take full advantage, I say.

This one purports to be a B1 test. It’s definitely not in the format used for the official CAPLE/DEPLE exams but it might be something extra if you need more practice.

If you want to take this to the next level, I’d advise getting one of the books of exam papers. Here’s the one I used for B1 and 2, for example

You can get it online from Bertrand and download the audio files here by entering the ISBN number (9789897524622) and publisher (Lidel). Bertrand also sell a book of B2 test papers with an accompanying CD from the same company called Exames de Portugues B2, Preparacao e Modelos which might be useful if you are looking at intermediate level, but bear in mind that it covers several different flavours of B2 level test including DIPLE Escolar, which is the test given to school-age children, Celpe-Bras, the brazilian equivalent of DIPLE and half a dozen others I don’t even recognise. It’s not specific to the standard CAPLE test framework, in other words, so although it is quite chunky, it may not be as useful as it seems.

The hardest thing to simulate is the fourth part of the test, “produção e interação orais”. You should probably work with a portuguese language teacher if you’re not already, or at the very least ask a portuguese friend to grill you to develop your conversation skills. Think about how to talk about yourself, practice talking about your favourite aspect of portuguese culture – food, music, books, and practice just looking at photographs and thinking about how you would describe them if you had to. It isn’t as long or as scary as you think it’ll be but it’s definitely worth getting used to that environment.

Posted in Portuguese

We Was Robbed!

I went on a misson to Hyde Park this morning to collect my exam certificate from the portuguese embassy. They won’t mail it, you have to go in person. I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d been disappointed to only receive a “suficiente” and not a “bom”. The cut-off is at 70% and I felt like I’d done really well, so when I got the result I assumed I’d hit the high sixties and just missed it. Disappointing but not the end of the world.

So, fast forward back to today. The teacher handed me the paper and I could see the marks I got for wach of the four of the components. For three, I was in the 70-80 range, which would have been fine, but the written component – usually one of the easiest bits – was well below that level at a pitiful 20%.

Twenty!

I said to the guy that it was a bit difícil a acreditar, undermining my case somewhat by tripping over my tongue and making a ton of mistakes through sheer nervousness. My written work definitely isn’t bad enough to hit 20 per cent though. I probably made some errors, but I finished both pieces and they were decent enough. One of the things about the exam, though, is that each paper has a candidate number on it, not a name, and I suspect mine might have got switched with someone else’s. Either that or they meant to give me 200% but ran out of ink before the second 0. Either way, I’m definitely appealing the mark.