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Passing the Goethe B1 German exam - spoken

Updated on May 17, 2011

My experience on the B1 exam (spoken)

This article is a continuation of this one, where I reviewed the day when I took the Goethe exam. I ran out of text space, so thus the continuation here.

If you find this article helpful, please 'like' it or leave me a comment. :-)

A recommendation: Read Part 1 first, and then return to this article.

Photo source:

My experience

on the B1 Goethe spoken part of the exam

continuing the day...

At 1300 we headed back upstairs to the unheated lobby to wait for our turn at the verbal section. There were 2 rooms, each with examiners. The procedure was that examiner 1 would call 2 names, these people would accompany her to the room. After some time, perhaps 10 min or so, either they would come out, or examiner 2 would appear from the other room to retreive them into the step 2 exam room. As there were 18 people, there were 9 pairs. Which pair was I a part of?

Pair 8 of 9. The 'mystery' part of the afternoon on this point was painful and I could have used a cup of coffee in the icebox. You had to be on standby, as there was no sharing of the list of names. So if someone else's name was called, you knew you had approx 10 min to take a bathroom break before having to be present again. As they started to call each pair, the matching technique became clear: people were matched on nationality/language. So there were a few Polish people in the room (and they all took the VHS class together and knew each other), they were each matched. There was a Japanese woman also in their class, she was matched with the one extra Pole. For whatever reason, they also matched on gender, so males with males, and females with females; it worked out evenly in that way.

As I had not taken a class at the test center, I was matched with a Brazilian woman who also did not know anyone. One one hand it was a little challenging to only meet someone in the moment before you walk in the room as I had never heard a Brazilian speaking German so was a little unaware of the accent, however, I was very lucky to have this woman as my partner. She had previously married a German and since divorced, but had been in the country 15 years so had strong skills. Due to recent legislation changes, she was forced to take the B1 exam, for her residency. As I had been in the country only 5 years, she was definitely stronger than me.

We were informed that we would go first to one room and then a second. When we were called into the first room finally at 15.00, we were given 2 sheets of paper and instructed to read it. The first was a graph showing that children today watch more television than children in the previous decades; it was a simple bar chart. The second sheet had a short paragraph that talked about some of the negative and positive points of children watching more television: they are more aware about the rest of the world beyond their neighborhood, they can learn about many different topics such as science and technology that they are perhaps not learning in school, but that children are not as social because TV is not interactive so they do not relate well to other children, and as well they are not as fit.

Then under this paragraph were some talking points, that said something like, 'I think it is good that children watch more television than 20 years earlier because...' and then the first person would start the sentence and state an opinion. The second person would then agree or disagree with the first person, and say why. There were four conversation starters like this, so we each started two and answered our partner on the other two.

The graph and text and topics were not terribly difficult. The point was that you understood the topics (and from what I've heard, they are usually quite broad, something anyone can speak about), and then that you build on it with a little personal experience or detail. So my Brazilian speaking partner said something about how she thinks that watching more TV these days is bad because children cannot relate well to each other as it says in the article, and that she has seen this in her own life, that her children while in Germany do not interact as much with their peers as they do when they visit Brazil and watch less TV. I then tagged onto her statement by saying that even though I do not have children, I agree with her statement that more TV watching is bad, because I notice the playgrounds are often empty so that children are less fit now than 20 years ago.

Our second speaking exercise was that we were given a sheet that outlined our task, 'your German teacher has an upcoming birthday, please plan for how the class with celebrate this event'. This was freeform, so we were ad libbing on the topic. Fortunately, we were both conversational enough and could make do with each other's accents. We spoke about how we should plan for a cake and a small gift for our teacher, and that we should plan with our other classmates who should bring the cake, napkins, etc. Then we spoke about a gift, that we should make a photo of the class, and then we should each sign it, and that we should keep all of this as a surprise for our teacher.

At the beginning of this session, the moderator informed us that she was a practice moderator and this was a practice session, but that she felt that we had done well and would be OK for the real session. She gave us the tip that we should speak to each other like the real moderators are not there, and just to carry on as were were, and that they would interrupt us once they heard enough.

She then released us into the hall where we had to wait another 5 minutes for the prior pair to complete with the 'real' moderators (there were two). The activies followed exactly the same as they had with the practice moderators, and overall, we were out in under 10 minutes.

My tip: I scored very well on the spoken section, and I tried to sound as German as possible, not only in words and accent, but also in emotion as well. So if you have spent some time around native German speakers, you may notice that they are enthusiastic on things like birthday celebrations, so I gave it full enthusiasm when speaking about the birthday gift conversation. So when my partner suggested the photos, I jumped in with a 'What a great idea, our teacher will be very happy with this gift!!!!!!', as I was all lit up like a Christmas tree.

After we completed the second section and we were told that our exam was complete, my Brazilian partner asked the moderators if they could give us an idea of our performance. The answer: results are unofficial until submitted, but you both definitely passed, and how many years have you been in this country?

I also later figured out that they seemed to 'rank' the people somewhat up until that point, so that the weaker speakers had completed earliest.

Another tip: Our practice moderator praised our choice of a signed photo as 'a smart gift in Germany'. Apparently the two males immediately before us had discussed giving the teacher a bottle of perfume. The point would be to try to think like a German and sound like a German so that you make it as easy as possible for the moderators to like you and give you points.

After we left the room, we were completed for the day. My speaking partner was so excited to hear that we passed that part, that she thanked me and shook my hand and told me that she was so happy that she was paired with me, that having a good partner made it easy for her. And here I was thinking the same.

My overall scort was a 2 out of 6 on the entire exam, so I was pleased with the experience.

How many years have you studied German before attempting the B1 zd exam?

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A recommended ZD Deutsch test preparation book

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.

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      abazz 2 years ago

      realy aprieciate this.want to write mein by next month.wish myself d best

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      picsandroses 5 years ago

      My goodness, are you a writer by profession? Is it a true story or you just invented it? I was eager to read about an examinee's experience so as to get inside information and concrete tips for students, but quickly, I enjoyed your writing as if I were reading a short story and forgot my goal. I loved it!!! This is a great narrative!