How to pass the Goethe-Institut B1 exam letter writing exercise
How to pass the letter writing part of the exam
I have passed the German B1 Goethe exam and have written this info mainly to help my colleagues, but maybe it is useful to someone else as well. It's helpful to have a general overview about this exam and then to read this article for the letter writing specific study tips, and please see my other Goethe exam links at the bottom of this article.
This article is specifically about the letter writing exercise which is found in the written section of the Goethe-Institut B1 exam (Zertifikat Deutsch ZD)
If you find this article useful, please 'like' it or leave me a comment. :-)
The basics & test background
Difficulty: Moderately Easy (if you've studied German for a few years or lived in Germany for a year or two)
Things you'll need:
- 2 pencils
- German knowledge
The test will give you a letter to read. You will need to write a letter then in response. Memorize the letter format now! Probability says that your letter will be informal (most are), but if you have time, memorize a formal format as well. Specifically, you should have these pieces in mind-- how to write the date (practice now the date you are taking the test!) for example '15. Oktober 2011', where to write the town, how to start the letter (Liebe Anna for the informal,), and how to sign the letter, for example 'Mit freundlichen Grüßen', then your name, written like 'Dein Joe' for the informal.
You have 50 minutes to read a letter and handwrite your response to it. Use the first 5-10 minutes to read the instructions and read the letter. The instructions will specifically tell you to address certain points in your letter response. As you read the letter, underline the parts which relate to the points you must address.
Spend the next 20-25 minutes creating your response. IMPORTANT-- if you want a 2 or a 1 (the grades above Pass), you must write more than one page in response-length is important here. In the exam they will give you lined paper on the exam sheet, 2 full blank sheets, as well as scrap paper. Make sure your draft letter on scrap paper will be longer than one side, and that you've address each and every point they've listed in their instructions.
You've now used 25-35 minutes and you have 15-25 minutes left. (Plan in advance how much time you'll need to draft your ideas vs. write the final copy in the exam book.) Start to transfer your letter from the scrap paper to the exam sheet. Write clearly and neatly. If you're not sure if something should be 'den' or 'dem', try to write the sentence differently or with different words, so that you're not making a grammatical mistake. There is no point to writing it sloppily and hoping they won't notice.
Make sure to have some additional standard phrases available in your head to use, nice filler for your letter such as 'it was so nice to receive your letter' or 'I hope to see you again soon', etc.
In the last 10 minutes...
At the end, try to read through your letter once more again in the last few minutes, against the original test points to address. If you have forgotten anything or want to add something further, it is ok to add a 'PS' after your signature. Be sure to actually sign it to make it look like a real letter!
If this is your hardest section and you think you'll get writer's block, try to get practice materials from online or your library. They will have practice letter topics so that you get used to writing letters automatically. Sample topics will be basic items like 'you forgot to return someone's book and now they'd like you to bring it back and visit them too' or 'someone tells you about their new computer and and they'd like to visit you on their break.'
Tips & Warnings
Don't worry if others finish and start to leave the exam room early; concentrate on your own writing and take the entire time to write and review.