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personal - gcse italian 2007/8

Taking on GCSE Italian

Picture of a past exam paper

In 2007 I made the decision to take a GCSE in Italian at my local college. I had already taken a couple of years of Italian, from the very basic to the OCN level. This however was a step up. Having just taken the exam I thought I would put some notes together that might be useful for others in the future. I was lucky enough to have an excellent teacher and some fantastic colleagues. This is a synopsis of my studies.

I should add at this point that i totally screwed up one of the questions on the writen paper. Damn the conditional tense! Post mortems are never good but i can't help thinking of the 5 points I know I have just thrown away through a lack of care. So if you are ever asked a question that asks you what you could do in the future and ends...

..... ti potrebbe fare in futuro?

Do not respond with....

Mi potrebbe .....

Try: Potrei or even vorrei for goodness sake.

Ok I have to stop thinking about this. I can't change it. I am gonna' stick my head out and say that even with that screw-up (or perhaps because of it) I will get a 'B'.  I'm going to look an idiot if I fail this exam or get lower!


Examining Body

The examining board was AQA.

Higher V Foundation

The papers come in two formats - Higher and Foundation. You can mix and match the papers to reflect your strengths and weaknesses. However if you only take the foundation papers in all areas, the most highest grade you can attain is a 'C'.

There are four parts to the exam:
Reading - You read texts and answer questions on them;
Writing - You are given two sets of questions in Italian and have to answer the questions
Oral - You will have a series of oral tests, some based on prepared work;
Listening - You will hear information and will be required to answer questions regarding the information heard.

In 2007/8 the following themes were covered:

My World
  1A  Self, Family and Friends
  1B  Interests and Hobbies
  1C  Home and Local Environment
  1D  Daily Routine
  1E  School and Future Plans (up to age 18)

Holiday Time & Travel
  2A  Travel, Transport and Finding the Way
  2B  Tourism
  2C  Accommodation
  2D  Holiday Activities
  2E  Services

Work & Lifestyle
  3A  Home Life
  3B  Healthy Living
  3C  Part-Time Jobs and Work Experience
  3D  Leisure
  3E  Shopping

The Young Person in Society
  4A  Character and Personal Relationships
  4B  The Environment
  4C  Education
  4D  Careers and Future Plans (post age 18)
  4E  Social Issues, Choices and Responsibilities

If you want a better breakdown of the sorts of things you should be able to talk about in relation to each heading then I recommend that you go to the AQA Specification for Italian


We used a book called 'Rapid@mente' by Leonardo Oriolo - ISBN 085048 306 9. This comes with a CD to accompany the text. Obviously you will need to use the book recommended by your college. However my advice is not to limit yourself to the material directly provided. Try other resources for inspiration. For example I used:

Google Italy - For general browsing in italian
Radio Rai - For Italian Radio
BBC Italianissimo - For online learning
Il Giornale - Online italian Newspaper

One resource I found by accident was 'EURONEWS'. If you have sky and change the default language from English to Italian, then you can get Euronews in Italian. It's actually great! They talk too fast for me to understand everything but I could understand phrases and get the gist of what was being said most of the time. It's great just for the sound and flow of words!

My own notes....

The core information you need to pass this exam will come from your lecturer and the text books provided/purchased. However, in December 2007 I began to put together a list of questions that I felt I should be able to answer at the end of the course. In addition I tried to answer those questions where possible.  I have read my notes since putting that information together and have spotted a number of mistakes, so you may be ill advised to rely on my scrawlings as these errors remain uncorrected. So be warned. This information is provided to give you an example of my own studies, NOT as a definitive guide to passing a GCSE.

My consolidated Italian revision stuff - Please Note - this is a Word Document [226KB]. In addition it contains some inaccuracies, so beware.


Examination boards take a dim view of plagiarism and are very good at detecting it these days. So although this information is provided freely and can be downloaded - for non commercial purposes only - without permission, DO NOT REPRODUCE IT! It is provided for assistance and information only. And in case you have any doubt about what constitutes plagiarism, it is pretty well defined at


  • Copying directly word for word; paraphrasing using similar words or using other people's material in any way, without acknowledging your sources

                      Graphic - Say No To Plagiarism

My top tip....One thing I found useful was putting together long texts and memorising them. After a while I found i was able to use the phrases learned in other contexts. Just a thought..


I am going to make some points here. You can take them or leave them but trust me... they will stand you in good stead if you follow them.

So all that is left is the examination result. This will be published once received. Fingers crossed all.

picture of claire, chris and bert - my fellow students

RESULTS - 21st AUGUST 2008

extract from results confirmation sheet. A star attained

The attached WORD DOCUMENT indicates the grades that were needed for each component this year to obtain an A* grade

picture of wendy and claire with champagne celebrating Italian Exam success

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