So i wrote a long response to this and, frustratingly, I appear to have got logged out at some point and lost it all when i tried to submit. Here is my second go.
Is your preparation process described in your log?
Not well. Specifically to prepare for the exam I used a tutor and also worked through two preparation books (edelsa and el cronómetro). I thought they were both largely representative of the exam but I think the listening sections for edelsa were probably on the easy side as you could pick out some answers word for word from the audios which doesn't happen in the actual exam.
Was there anything that surprised you in the exam itself, anything different from the preparation material and accessible information?
No, i think the structure is pretty locked down and you know what's coming in that sense. Some of the texts in the preparation materials can be a bit hit and miss (but i imagine same in the exam), it really makes a difference having a well structured text to prepare the oral/written exam from as opposed to mess you need to try and first group into some sort of logical progression.
What was your result? Did it correspond with your own impression on the day of the exam?
Kind of in line, more on that below. Each section out of 25.
- reading = 22.5. In line with expectations and about where I averaged on practice exams, I didn't expect major problems here.
- writing = 16.67. Worse than expected. Admittedly before the exam i had never actually worked on writing but i thought i had prepared pretty well. Not really sure what happened. A couple of things I would do different - practice writing by hand (my task became a mess as i wrote too much and went back to change things and reduce word count). Also, this was my last task and I was kind of drained at this point. I never practiced doing everything in one sitting (i always broke things up), so i suggest doing that.
- listening = 25. Better than expected, I generally had a few mistakes.
- speaking = 23. Probably in line with expectations. This was likely going to be my strongest area as long as i didn't get too nervous or thrown off with a tough text.
What did you find difficult?
I don't know that there is one thing in particular but what I was most nervous about was from the practice exams there were a few tasks i could either do really well on or completely flop. Notably:
- the reading task where you fill in full sentences to a longer text. If you mix one of these up it can throw off everything.
- the first listening task - similar to above.
- the first speaking task - if you get a poorly structured text it can make things SO much harder. Twenty minutes isn't that long to prepare and if you also have to try and structure the ideas yourself then it can be tough.
- the first writing task - as above, if you get an unstructured audio it could be really hard to work with.
My biggest concerns going in were how nervous I would be and how much I'd get stressed out by a poorly organised text. I must admit I didn't like the text i got for the oral section but obviously it worked out OK.
Were there LA variants in the exams too?
Yes, in both the reading and listening (obviously more notable in the listening). I would expect to hear at least 3 accents in the exam (often spanish + argentinian + other). In the exam i took one of the longer listening tasks was with a Chilean. I didn't prepare specifically for this though, I haven't heard much south american spanish (i basically only hear carribean + from spain) and I was fine. I did think that the shorter audios which try to text idioms, etc. definitely hard a bias to Spain which didn't really help me and I had to consciously make an effort to learn some (which i will never use again).
Let me know if there's anything else.