Everything you need to know about revising for your GCSE German exam. In this post, we look at the exam format, and each of the four assessed areas. We provide our top tips for preparing for each section of the exam.
If your GCSE German exam is fast approaching and you don’t know where to begin, then this post is for you. We’re about to provide our top GCSE German revision tips to ensure that you have a structured approach to revising.
Before you can begin revising for GCSE German, you need to know what the exam entails and what topics you need to know. Once you know what to revise, you can then focus on the how. In terms of getting organised, it’s a good idea to create a GCSE German revision planner that outlines exactly what you’ll be studying, when. A revision planner doesn’t need to be complicated, it can be as simple as a wall calendar, or as complicated as an Excel spreadsheet – whatever works for you.
The GCSE German Exam Format
To get you started, here’s an overview of the GCSE German exam format, as outlined on the AQA website:
Paper 1: Listening – At Foundation level, this is a 35-minute exam that awards 40 marks. At Higher level, it’s a 45-minute exam that awards 50 marks. Overall, the listening exam contributes to 25% of your overall grade. The first section asks questions in English, which have to be answered in English. The second part asks questions in German, which have to be answered in German.
Paper 2: Speaking – This part of the exam doesn’t take place in an exam hall. At Foundation level, the test lasts 7-9 minutes, and at Higher level, it lasts 10-12 minutes. 60 marks are awarded in total and the test accounts for 25% of your overall grade. There is a role play or photo card and conversation element to the test.
Paper 3: Reading – A written exam that lasts for 45-minutes at Foundation level, and 1 hour at Higher level. There are 60 marks awarded in total, which contribute to 25% of your overall grade. The first section asks question in English, which to be answered in English. The second section asks questions in German, to be answered in German, and the third section is a translation from German to English.
Paper 4: Writing – The written exam lasts for one 1 hour at Foundation level and 1 hour 15 minutes at Higher level. 50 marks are awarded at Foundation level and 60 marks are awarded at Higher level. There are four questions in the paper at both levels.
GCSE German Listening Exam Advice
The best way to revise for the GCSE German listening exam is to practice listening to audio recordings from previousyears’ exams. The AQA website has audio files that you can download for free, here.
Before you listen to the audio, think about the topic and the words that are likely to come up. If you’re prepared for hearing certain words and phrases, you’ll be more likely to pick up on them. Also, be aware of any tricky words that could potentially arise.
If you hear numbers in the recording, listen very carefully as they can be easy to get wrong upon your first listen. In the exam, you’ll have the opportunity to listen to the recording twice, so make sure that you use the second recording to confirm any hesitations you had the first-time round.
With practice recordings, you’ll have access to the audio transcript as well. Once you’ve listened to the recording twice and recorded your answers, go through it again with the transcription, paying close attention to anything you missed.
In general, a good way to prepare for the listening part of the exam is to tune in to German radio so that your ears get used to listening to the language. Podcasts can also be a great resource for listening practice. We’d recommend listening to Slow German, which is a podcast for German language learners who are working towards intermediate level German.
GCSE German Speaking Exam Tips
The speaking exam has two sections. The first section requires you to give a presentation based on a single picture. The second part, requires you to have a conversation on topic areas that you chose to present on in the first part.
One of the most effective ways to practice for the presentation part is to have several presentations already written and practiced. Although you don’t know what topics you’ll have to choose from on the day, having a good idea of the words and phrases that you’ll use will put you at an advantage.
You should also try to practice your presentations with another person. Even if it’s a family member who doesn’t speak German, talking aloud will help improve your confidence and help you perfect your pronunciation and accent.
You should also try recording your presentation on a mobile phone, so that you can listen back to it as part of your revision process. You can also listen to it before you go into your exam, so that you’re in the right frame of mind.
GCSE German Reading Exam Preparation
The first section of the reading exam asks you to answer questions in English, the second part asks you to answer in German. For both parts of the exam, make sure that you read the comprehension text carefully before you attempt to answer the questions that follow. Reading the passage first will help provide you with context to the topic.
One of the best areas to revise for the reading exam is tenses. Make sure that you’re able to identify a sentence in the past, present, and future. You should also ensure that you’re familiar with questions types, i.e. what, why, when, who, how, etc.
Practising with previous years’ exam papers can really help you get used to the words and phrases that you’ll need to know for each topic. Generally speaking, the more German texts you read, the better you’ll become at identifying words and phrases. Try reading German language blogs, newspapers, and books to get you in the right frame of mind for the test.
GCSE German Writing Practice
The writing exam has two tasks. The first requires you to write about a topic that relates to the reading passage, and the second part asks you to select a task from a choice of three that requires you to write in a certain style – discursive, narrative, descriptive etc.
Both parts of the writing exam require you to use different tenses, clauses and demonstrate a wide vocabulary. You should also be able to demonstrate accurate grammar use.
The best way to revise for your GCSE German writing exam is to practice and have someone assess your writing afterwards. Past papers are a good way to familiarise yourself with the style and layout of each type of question, but personal feedback on your writing is the best way to hone your skills. Ask your class teacher, or German tutor to look over your writing practice, so you know which areas you need to improve in.
How to Improve GCSE German Vocabulary
When it comes to revising GCSE German vocabulary, the trick is to start early. The more time you have to expand your vocab, the more words and phrases you’ll be able to use come exam day. The first thing you should do is keep a ‘vocab book’, where you can write down any new word or phrase that you come across. As the exam approaches, you can revise each word in preparation.
You should also try to read a variety of German texts written in different styles and take note of any words or phrases that you think you could use in your exam. If you’re a visual learner, you might want to try writing words and phrases down on post-it notes and sticking them around your study space to help you memorise important structures.
Practice with GCSE German Past Papers
Knowing the content of an exam is one thing, but having exam technique is another. Introducing past papers into your revision schedule is a great way to familiarise yourself with the layout of each paper and they types of questions that you could be asked.
Practice papers also help you identify any weak areas in your German skills as you can monitor your progress by checking your answers against the marking schemes. As your GCSE German exam approaches, try to do practice papers under exam conditions to help improve your time management skills. The more you practice answering questions under timed conditions, the quicker you’ll get at answering under pressure.
GCSE German past papers can be downloaded directly from the AQA website, here.
Please note that the GCSE German revision tips contained in this post should not be used as a substitute for advice given by your school and the AQA website.