I started learning German since May 2016 and I took the Goethe-Zertifikat A1:Start Deutsch 1 exam with grade 91/100 four months later. This examination is from Goethe-Institut and it corresponds to level one(A1) on the six-level scale of competence laid down in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. I have been learning German by attending an intensive course which you can read more from my previous post German language learning journey: How I started
How does Goethe-Zertifikat A1 test you?
Goethe-Zertifikat A1:Start Deutsch 1 requires you very basic language skills. I personally think it is possible to pass the exam without taking any courses. You can pass by learning the language on your own. The exam is composed of four parts: Hören, Lesen, Schreiben, Sprechen.
You will listen to a 20-minute audio clip and answer three different parts of questions including multiple choice, true or false and fill in the blanks. Some questions will play twice and some will play only once. Most of them are asking you for the correct date, time, place or numbers.
Tips: Read the questions real quick before the audio starts. It’s most likely you won’t catch every word, so don’t panic and keep calm. Pay attention to the information and write down notes before you answer.
Same to Hören, there are also multiple choice, true or false and fill in the blanks. You will read a paragraph of email or letter, some advertisements or notice and to answer the questions. Lesen is the easiest part of all as you can find out the answer through the text.
Tips: Don’t take off guard because it is easy, there are some tricky parts to confuse you that requires you to focus reading every detail.
There are two parts in Schreiben where you will fill in the blanks and give the right answers after reading some text. This is similar to Lesen. In the other part, you will need to write a short email or message within 30 words according to the question. It gives you three points to include in the message and you should write one to two sentences for each point. Examples include making plans with a friend, re-scheduling appointment, set up a meeting and etc.
Tips: Don’t write too few or too much. Follow what the instruction tells you. Prepare yourself well by practice writing how to start and end an email and message.
In Sprechen, you will not only work on the test alone but also work with the fellow exam participants. You will be seated with three to four exam participants. First, you will be asked to introduce yourself by two examiners. They will give you a hint card so you can follow the hints to structure your speech. It is simple as Name(name), Alter(age), Land(where you’re from), Wohnort(where you live), Sprachen(language), Beruf(profession) and Hobby.
After everyone has introduced themselves, the examiners will put on several wordcards upside down on the table and ask you to pick one. The word on the card is the topic. You will ask a question of this topic to the exam participant next to you and he/she will answer. Then he/she will pick a card as well and ask the other participant sitting next to him/her.
Tips: Practice a lot beforehand. Prepare words to describe and introduce yourself. Get familiar with the interrogative pronouns such as Wie? Was? Wieviel? Wie lange? etc.
How did I pass the exam?
No one can pass the exam without studying for it. Duh. I spent a lot of time doing past exam papers and exercise. There are many sources online and you should do a lot of practice. Once I successfully enrolled to the exam, Goethe Institut sent me a link where I can access to the practice materials. The link can also be found on their website.
Beside, I also purchased Fit fürs Goethe-Zertifikat A1: Start Deutsch 1 by which is an exercise book particularly for the exam. There are lots of exercises to improve your skill, expand your vocabulary and get you familiar with the exam questions. This book is a must.
At last, I read many email and message templates because I lack writing skills and had no idea of the format in German. For example, how do you greet the recipient? How to end the message with courtesy?
If you have the scenario where you can’t meet or do what you are asked, you first appreciate and apologize, then you make a suggestion. Below will be useful:
- Vielen dank für die Einladung aber leider kann ich nicht kommen/machen…
- Tut mir leid aber ich muss…
- Ich will/möchte…Kannst du/Können Sie…
And finish off with:
- Herzliche Grüsse
- Viele Grüsse
Practice makes perfect. A1 is the basic level of the language which doesn’t involve too much grammar rules. Keep working on the exam practice, be calm and concentrate during exam and you will be fine!
Hope this helps you and let me know how your exam goes!