Every university expects you to have a good English knowledge, we’ve known this for ages; you either take IELTS or TOEFL to get a score your university requires. How is it with the other languages? Being multilingual opens many doors for you and IB’s language acquisition section has various options. This article is about TestDaF, a popular German language test, and how the German B course in the IB can help you.
TestDaF is an abbreviation for ‘‘Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache’’ which can be translated as ‘‘Test German as Foreign Language’’. Normally this test is required for international students who want to go to a university in Germany. The test consists of 4 parts: listening, writing, reading and speaking. The first three parts are similar with every language test. What distinguishes this exam in my eyes is the speaking part which I will talk about in the following parts. Universities mostly want C1 level but for some engineering majors B2 is enough too. But the TestDaF’s grading system is a little bit different:
You can reach the article that explains more about the table above from here!
The table above shows that TDN 3 means B2, TDN 4 C1 and TDN 5 mostly C1 and above. But you have to get the same TDN grading in every part in order to be graded with that level. For example if your listening, reading and speaking is TDN 4 so C1 but your writing is TDN 3, you won’t get a C1 you will get a B2. Also there is a chance you’ll see something like UTDN on your certificate which means you got B1 and you are not eligible for a TestDaF certificate. But let’s not stress out you can take the exam multiple times and use the grade that you want.
There are two types of tests you can take TestDaF in: digital and written. You have to go to the TestDaF centers in your area for both. the question types however differ in both exams. In the digital one you have various types of reading tasks such as fill in the blanks or match the given words. Whereas there are only three in the paper type. Don’t be dumb like me and work for written exam where you are entering the digital exam. (You can imagine my shock when people in the test center told me that it was digital!) The picture below is taken from the TestDaF website. The dates might differ for your country but the red box represents the format.
The registration dates are on the website but be careful to convert time zones. Registrations open at 10 am in Germany, so convert your time and be ready accordingly.
The Exam Content
(Note: the following information is about the written test, not digital.)
Let’s start with listening, as you may know in May 2022 exams Language B courses will have a listening part in their exam. A great way to practice for both is through Youtube! This Youtube channel has free listening soundtracks and you can find the questions in the information part of the video. There are three tasks in this part. In the first and third one you have to answer questions depending on the audio with the exact words you hear. Second one is a true or false task. You’ll be hearing the first two audios one time and third one two times.
Reading part also has three tasks. In the first ones, usually you are given descriptions of people who are in need of jobs, hobbies etc. According to this knowledge, you have to choose the right one from the small paragraphs explaining different opportunities and match them with the people. Most of the time in the descriptions, there is a synonym for a word in the little paragraphs. Try to find these synonyms. Second task is a multiple choice question about a text. The third task, is a true-false-not given type of question. Unfortunately, reading is not similar to the Language B questions but there are also practice questions you can go through here.
Writing part is a little bit complicated. You’ll be given a small text with one or two diagrams about this text. Here are 4 steps on how to write the required answer:
- In the introduction, paraphrase the given small text.
- For second paragraph, you deal with the diagrams. with the first sentence telling what type of paragraph it is, a title and the source. And then you start to state the outstanding data like the highest point, the lowest, a change if it happened. You don’t have to tell all of the data. If you also can make an interpretation about the rise, fall or drastic change in the graph the examiners tend to like those but it is not mandatory.
- You have to form a thesis about the situation. According to your opinion, you have to prove this thesis by considering the advantages and disadvantages. This is rather an easy task for IB students because this is literally what we have to do in TOK. Propose a thesis, wrong or right doesn’t matter that much, but defend it with your life and you’ll be fine 🙂
- In conclusion, you aren’t going to summarize the text like you always do. Instead you’ll be explaining how the theme of the writing is in your country. Let’s say that your topic is fitness, tell if the citizens of your country are athletic or how frequently they do sports etc.
Speaking part is honestly my favorite, I felt like I’m in a call center trying to help the customers. Or maybe I just watched a lot of 911 shows. In this part, you have seven tasks where you have to respond to real life situations like giving advice to a friend, presenting a diagram in a lecture, requesting information from an office etc. You are going to have a preparation time before each task but they are mostly between 1-2 minutes, so I advise you to practice at home too before coming to the test. Here is an example.
The best preparation tip I can give to you is to write as much as possible. Most of the time the lowest points are taken from the writing part. If you have a German teacher or someone who knows the language, make them check the fluency because in TestDaF you are allowed to make a couple of grammar mistakes. The coherence and your ability to persuade the reader into your idea in German is the most important part. The preparation time changes depending on your currency proficiency and the level you aim to get but I would say 1 month is a suitable time for being comfortable with tasks. For speaking, I advise you to go to our Community Slack and enter the german-b channel, there are many of us taking German B who will benefit from mutual speaking experience.
I hope this writing helped you, I took the exam last summer and these tips worked quite well for me. If you want to share, I’d like to see your results as well. Let’s celebrate together!