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How to pass the Goethe-Institut B1 exam (Zertifikat Deutsch (ZD))

Updated on October 17, 2014

Passing the B1 German exam

If you're learning German or already have intermediate skills, passing the Goethe-Institut's B1 German Certificate (Zertifikat Deutsch (ZD)) exam is a great way to prove your knowledge. It's an internationally recognized standardized test which is useful for employment or education purposes to show your competency. Passing this exam can also be useful to your German permanent residency application and as well it is the language qualification required for acquiring German citizenship

It's suggested that you'll need approximately 260-490 hours of German learning in order to be at the appropriate level to be able to pass this exam.

This article is my general overview about the exam.

I have also posted more details about my exam day experience

my tips for passing the letter writing exam

and my tips for passing the spoken exam.

Recommended practice test book

Zertifikat Deutsch Der Schnelle Weg - Level 10: Lehrbuch (German Edition)
Zertifikat Deutsch Der Schnelle Weg - Level 10: Lehrbuch (German Edition)

This book comes from the Langenscheidt people, so a good addition to your test materials. It includes test tips and the like (in German), but the most important thing it provides is practice in the various test sections and an entire practice test with answer key, so that you can be confident when you go in to take the test that you're already been through a similar test during your studies.


Instructions and tips

Things you'll need:

  • German language knowledge (reading, writing, listening and speaking)
  • Passport or other form of accepted identification
  • Two #2 pencils and an eraser
  • Lunch and a snack and drink

1.Go online to Goethe Institut to find your nearest exam center. Register for the test and pay the required fee.

2. Order the Goethe practice tests or check the library or bookstore or online for sample tests.

3. Review a sample test to get familiar with it. The format of the questions is always the same.

4.Take a test under timed conditions to see how well you can do it. Then identify your problem areas so that you can work further on these parts.

5. Practice the speaking sections in advance by writing and memorizing some sentences to introduce yourself and general things to talk about (your profession, what you study, how long you have studied German, etc.)

6. Get a German speaking friend or colleague to listen to your speaking sentences to be sure that they are complete and clear and well spoken.

7. Practice your German letter writing and memorize the informal letter format so that you are ready to do that section.

8. Arrive early to the test center with your identification and pencils to take the test.

Tips & Warnings:

  • Get a good night's sleep before the test.
  • Don't stress if you miss a question or to understand a spoken sentence. Just keep going and pick it up again.
  • Be sure to erase completely on the scanned sheets if you change an answer as the machine will read any stray pencil marks.
  • Be prepared to wait a few weeks to receive the results in the post.
  • Don't bring a cell phone to the test center, or be prepared to hand it to the examiner or perhaps to store it in a locker. Best to avoid bringing it with you if possible.
  • Don't bring other extra items such as dictionaries, study sheets, etc. Some examiners are very strict about not bringing these items into the test room.

B1 test comments or questions?

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      nifwlseirff 5 years ago

      I think it took me 2 months to receive my results, and I had to pick them up from the VHS where I took the test, although they would post the results if you were leaving the country.

      My tip would be to try to find recordings or podcasts with speakers that have different German accents. My listening section was crazy-difficult - fast speakers, with a strong Austrian accent, one which I hadn't heard before.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      "Be prepared to wait a few weeks to receive the results in the post."

      Does it take more than a month to receive the results?


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      picsandroses 5 years ago

      Thank you indeed for this series of articles and the sharing of this information. I will forward this to some students.