Time flies. I came to Germany 11 months ago and I studied German at two different language schools for about 9 months before I took the German Goethe Certificate B2 Exam in June.
I did not have a chance to take the German B1 exam, so I cannot compare it with the B2. At the moment, I am about to start preparing for the Goethe-Zertifikat C1 Exam and I can surely see the difference between B2 and C1 levels. A friend of mine who took B1 Exam and saw my B2 level books mentioned that B2 looks more complicated. At the same time, a fellow student was encouraging me, saying that B2 exam is easy, because a friend of his took it earlier and passed excellently. The truth is: B2 exam is tricky, because even though the entire exam sets are supposed to be the same level of difficulty, they are not. Not from a foreigner’s point of view. I noticed that while preparing for the test. Books that help you to prepare for the exam and have sets of exercises consist of many texts. Very often, one text is much easier than another. It all depends on your vocabulary. It just happens that some sets of the exam are easier/ more difficult than the others, just because of the tasks vocabulary. My advice is do not underestimate the difficulty of the exam. If a friend of yours claimed he/she passed the exam without studying much, he/she might have got lucky. Take into consideration that a friend of yours might study the language longer than you or has more possibilities to practice his/her language skills and so on.
I would like to talk briefly about the exam, give my pieces of advice on what to review before the exam and share my personal score on the exam.
My B2 Exam took place on Saturday, and it was a paper-based exam. We started with Reading, Listening and Writing. Later on, we got pieces of paper with the time of our appointments for the Speaking part. I had about 2 hours of break before my speaking part began. The examiners told us that we will get the results of the exam 4-6 weeks later, but, surprisingly, the results were out in two weeks. 10-15 people took the exam on the same day as me.
Time during the exam was tight. I felt quite nervous and used all the given time to its limit, even though I always could save some minutes when doing the same exam exercises at home.
Reading part. Tips
Learning new German words is always a struggle for me. At the same time, that’s all you have to do when studying for this part of the exam (not to mention the actual reading of the articles, books, etc., of course). I did not expand my vocabulary well enough and as a result I could not get the answers right. My score was 17 out of 25.
Listening part. Tips
There is no other way to practice your listening skills except for listening to the radio and watch TV in German. What I found difficult during the exam is that you have to read the questions and answer them the same time you hear the task. If you do not read the questions carefully enough, it is easy to make a mistake. Read the questions carefully. I did not pay attention to the details, because I was in a hurry. I was not sure how much time I would have for transferring my answers to the answer sheet. Do not repeat my mistake. Practice the listening part at home. Make sure you understand questions 100% and you can do both tasks simultaneously (to hear the text and to answer the questions). Do not worry about transferring the answers immediately. There is time for it in the end. My lack of concentration cost a lot. I got 18.5 out of 25.
Writing part. Tips
I can proudly say that on the part I actually studied harder I got 24 out of 25. The examiner suggested us to start with the part 2 of the writing task. I found that was a good advice, because after writing an essay (part 1) we felt quite exhausted. 65 minutes was just enough to make a plan for writing, answer all the bullet points, check the mistakes and so on. The requirements to all the parts of the exam can be found on the official website of the Goethe Institute. Make sure you know how your answers will be evaluated before you take the exam.
Last but not least, do not forget to review German adjective/article declension. This will help you to answer questions in both Reading (Aufgabe 4) and Writing (Aufgabe 2) parts. The exam profile might change in the future, but I believe they will always check your knowledge of the declension rules. 🙂
Speaking part. Tips
Learn useful language expressions before taking an exam. Make sure to use different expressions to show your opinion, make a statement, discuss an issue, etc. Try to talk freely without looking at your notes too much. Carefully listen to the instructions that the examiners give you. Make sure to answer all the bullet points of the part 1 (for instance, talk about your opinion, experience, give examples). Make sure you talk the right amount of time you have to give a short presentation/to discuss with your partner.
Personally, I was very nervous. When I am nervous, I tend to speak much faster than I normally do. I was asked to present myself shortly, and to look at my speaking partner while presenting the text I got. Later, we were discussing pictures and even though I could not look at my notes at that time, I did remember the useful expressions I learned. In the end, I got 25 out of 25.
In total, I got 84, 5 out of 100 (good). It could be better, but for someone who has been studying German for 9 months (at the VHS and at another private school), whose life was not easy in Germany; for someone who do not have a possibility to speak German at home; for someone whose German communication is limited to places such as supermarkets and drug stores and such words as Hallo, Entschuldigung, Danke; for someone who could not work, because of the intensive language course; for someone who does not have German native friends whom she can see frequently; for someone who is not even sure whether she stays in Germany in the future, I think my score is OK.
Good luck to you if you want to take the exam!