How NOT to prepare for your deutsche Prüfung
Two weeks ago, I took the plunge and completed a telc B2 deutsche Prüfung. Warum would I subject myself to such ‘fun’, you may ask? It’s simple.
Because I had to.
I can soon apply for my permanent residence permit. (Yay!) But on the list of 243 official documents they want to see, one includes proof of knowledge of the German language. In my case, I have to prove I have at least a B1 level. I was confident I could accomplish at least one level higher, so I thought, I might as well go for it while I’m there and paying for it either way.
My registration for the exam went through about a month beforehand. I thought to myself, ‘I’ll print off some practice materials and look through them in the couple of weeks leading up to the exam. I also have a German partner, so I can make him help me write some practice texts. Kein Problem.’
Yeah, this was nice in theory. But in typical Chelsea fashion, I procrastinated until the week before the exam. By that time, my partner had plans for most of the evenings and didn’t have much time to help me or check my answers to the practice materials. I started watching some how-to videos on youtube, some of which helped, but some of which stoked my fear and had me convinced that failing was a real possibility.
So what did I do? I tried to cram as much as I could and memorize some Redemittel (useful phrases) that I thought the examiners would be looking for, e.g. Außerdem, aus diesem Grund, jedoch stets, weder…noch, usw. I wrote a couple of practice emails (this is one of the written parts) in my phone so I could look over the structure of a formal email in German. I also played in my head what I would discuss for the presentation section of the oral exam.
But I was still so stressed about potentially failing. It’s not something I’m used to doing, so any sort of failure to me feels like a massive weight. I mean, I encounter daily fails, but these are on a much smaller scale, and the thought of seeing my failure in writing is super scary. The truth is, people fail tests all the time, and I could simply do it again if I failed one portion. Of course I would have to pay a fee again, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that I didn’t want to believe that I had overestimated my abilities.
How did it go in the end? I think it went pretty well. I don’t have the results back yet, but I would be shocked if I failed either part of the exam. Honestly, the days and hours leading up to it were worse than the actual exam. I made it such a big deal in my head that I was so stressed, for essentially no reason. The exam was almost exactly the same as the practice exam that can be found online, just with slightly different topics and tasks. I felt so unprepared going into it, but this was just nerves because I knew my work would be judged and I put so much pressure on myself to be as perfect as possible.
You want some actual tips on preparing for the telc B2 exam? (And assuming you haven’t taken the preparatory courses beforehand.) Here we go:
- Print off the practice materials and actually do them like you’re doing the test. It tells you very clearly how long you get for each section, so don’t be like me and underestimate how much time it takes to understand the problem and write an email in 30 mins. There’s an answer key in the back – use it!
- Get familiar with the format of the test. This will just help you avoid any surprises about what is coming and how long you get for each section.
- Watch some videos on youtube of people giving advice and tips about the exam. I liked this one from KonstanzeK outlining the oral exam. This one from Dein Sprachcoach was also helpful to get familiar with the format. Finally, this video from Deutsch mit Christiane is helpful to learn how to structure the written part of the exam. (It tends to be an email, so you can study more concretely for this one.)
- Give yourself more than one week to prepare in advance (maybe around one month). If you work a full-time job, you’re going to need more than one week to feel prepared since you only have the evenings and weekends.
- Make flash cards for expressions and verbs that tend to trip you up and burn them into your brain. Is it Ich interessiere mich für Ihr Angebot or an Ihr Angebot? Ich stehe telefonisch unter 123 zur Verfügung or telefonisch auf? I hope I didn’t trip you up just now.
With that, I wish you good luck! And don’t f*ck it up. (Bonus points if you get that reference.)