The Goethe-Institut German A2 exam explained (2023)

if you want theGoethe-Institut A2 German examexplained clearly, you are in the right place. In this post, we are going to reveal the format of this important German exam for “advanced beginners”. We will make it clear what the A2 test German exam involves. This will help you decide if it's for you. You'll also get a better sense of what you need to achieve to pass this intermediate German exam.

What is the level of the German A2 exam?

A2 is a level inCommon European Framework of Reference for Languages, a set of skill standards used by educators in German and many other languages. There are two “Basic” levels of CERFL. I wrote a separate post aboutA1 “Innovator” level exam. Our focus below is on the A2 exam (beginners, obscurely dubbed the “Waystage” level in CERFL).

So, applying the CERFL, how good must your German be to pass the Goethe A2? In short, you need to be able to:

  • understand commonly used phrases and expressions associated with topics directly related to your direct circumstances (eg personal information or information about your family, shopping, work, immediate environment);
  • make yourself understood in simple and routine situations, in the case of a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and common themes;
  • describe your background and education, immediate environment and other things associated with immediate needs in a simple way.

If you manage to pass the A2 German test, you have every reason to be proud of your achievement.

Of course, what you can say and understand is still quite limited to expressingbasic needs, communicating in the mostcommon everyday topics. Often, you will still only catch some of the main points of what is being said, even if it is expressed in a clear and not-quite-quick speech.

But pause to reflect for a moment. You will have covered many of the most common German grammar patterns. You should be aiming for avocabulary of about 1,300 words. With an active mastery of many of these words and patterns and a passive understanding of more of them, you will be able to handle some of these words and patterns well.important real-life situationswhen traveling.

All in all, you've developed a wonderful skill that will help you connect with German-speaking people around the world and transform your experience in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.

Where can you take the Goethe-Institut A2 German exam?

Unlike the B1 and B2 exams, which consist of four modules that you can take in separate sessions (even in separate exam centres), the Goethe A2 exam is normally taken at a Goethe-Institut, in one day.

There is a network of Goethe Institutes all over the world, with the largest number in Germany itself. The number of times per year the exam is offered varies from center to center. Some centers conduct the exam only once or twice a year. Larger and busier Goethe Institutes such as Berlin may offer several sessions per month. Opricealso varies from country to country. Exams are also offered by foreign partner institutions of the Goethe-Institut. Always check the latest preparations with your chosen exam center, especially in 2022 as COVID may still be affecting preparations!

Discover how YOU can use Dr. P's free Weekly Training Routine to prepare yourself for more confident German conversations in a matter of weeks.Click here for training!

The German A2 exam format section by section

The Goethe German A2 exam is divided intofour parts. These cover thefour skillslistening, reading, reading and writing. There is no separate grammar or vocabulary test (unlike, for example, Russian TRKI exams).

Let's look at the format of each section in turn. I have used the Goethe Institute’s own “model document” (“Modellsatz”) (2nd edition, 2021) as a guide here. Always check the most up-to-date format before the exam in case things change.

Reading section (Lesen)

Total time is 30 minutes

The reading test is divided into four sections (Teil Eins bis Teil Vier). There is only one correct answer for each.

Reading Part 1:

You receive a text of about 180 words. In the model article, this is a newspaper article: “Ich versuche immer wieder etwas Neues”. Of course, the text will be different on the exam.

Then, five short and incomplete statements about the content of the text are presented and you must choose between options (a), (b) or (c) to complete the sentence. Note: the phrases are not taken directly from the text. You can't just play "identify the same sequence of words", so your comprehension of the text is really tested.

Reading Part 2:

The paper model features a department store information board (the kind of thing you often see on stairs or in elevators, telling you what's for sale on each floor).

For each of the five questions, you must choose the floor you want.

As with Reading Part 1, a range of different vocabulary will be tested. You cannot rely on extract vocabulary alone. Thus, the illustrative example in the model document is “Sie suchen ein Sofa”. The answer is “2. Stock". The challenge is that there is nothing about "Sofas" on the sign under 2. Stock. What it says is on 2. The stock is "Möbel für Wohnzimmer, Bad und Küche". You will need to recognize at least "furniture for room…” in order to answer the question.

Reading Part 3 (10 minutes):

In the template article, the text is an informal email of about 250 words. As with the first two questions, there are five statements you need to complete to test your understanding.

Reading Part 4 (Teil 4):

In the template document there are seven short web pages of information (each about 30-40 words) from cafes/restaurants. You must combine the Internet page that best fits the five search engines, for example. (q. 16): Sarah heiratet bald und möchte mit vielen Gästen in einem Lokal feiern”.

listening section

Total time is 30 minutes

The listening section of the German A2 test exposes you to a variety of different speakers (ages, accents) and different language registers. In the model exam, these are radio broadcasts, answering machine messages and loudspeaker announcements.

Sample recordings on model paper are perhaps clearer than actual speech would be, but the pacing strikes me as generally realistic for the slower end of normal speech.

The complete model exam soundtrack is on the Goethe website.

You'll hear instructions for each Teil as he starts. They are much slower than standard speech and are the same as the written instructions for each Teil you will have in front of you on the exam.

Let's look at the four sections in detail!

Listening Part 1:

The recording lasts about seven and a half minutes, including audio instructions in German (the same as those written on paper).

There are five questions.

Before each question, there is a pause of approximately fifteen seconds for you to read the question (questions are short).

There are three radio clips (one of them is the weather forecast), two voice messages on the answering machine.

For example, question three is “Wo findet das Treffen statt? There are three options: a) Am Bahnhof, (b) Im Büro and (c) Im Hotel Leopold. If you were just listening to individual words and guessing, it would be easy to get it wrong. The women leaving the message explain that today's meeting will not take place "in the Büro", but "in the Hotel Leopold am Bahnhofsplatz". She explains that there was an error with the invitation.

There's another fifteen or twenty second gap at the end of question five.

Listening Part 2:

In the model article, Teil 2 is a conversation you hear only once, a couple (man and woman, talking about how they are going to spend their holiday week). There are eight photos in the proof and you must match the activities pictured with one or five days of the week (ie what is happening in Dienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag and Samstag).

First you have about thirty seconds to look at the photos, at which point you can think of any vocabulary that might come up to describe what you can see.

Then you hear the example question (there is a ninth picture of people in the cinema, Monday activity).

There are eight pictures and you will only need five of them. He was told not to choose an image more than once.

You listen to the entire conversation without pauses. It is about a minute long.

Listen carefully as you can easily get sidetracked. For example, photo (a) shows people dancing and the women say they have a dance class on Tuesday. If you hear “Tanzkurs” you might think (a) is the answer, but the man responds that the teacher is also absent this week, so there is no class. For Wednesday, the man suggests a trip to the pools (photo (c)), but the woman says that she prefers to go cycling (photo (g)), and they agree.

At the end of Teil 2, there is another short pause (about fifteen seconds).

Listening Part 3:

You hear five short conversations (male and female) only one.

Before each conversation, there is a pause of about fifteen seconds for you to read the question and see three pictures. The first question, for example, is “Was hat das Mädchen gestern Abend gegessen?” There are three pictures: fish dish, hamburger, chicken dish. She mentions all three but says she chose the chicken.

There is another break of about fifteen seconds at the end of Teil Drei.

Listening Part 4:

The recording is a radio interview between the host and the guest.

There are five questions about what you heard and you must choose “ja” or “nein”.

First you have just under thirty seconds to read all five questions.

So you listen to the interview twice. It's about a minute long and plays a second time with only a very short pause, so I think it would make sense to answer the questions as you go along (and double check, deal with any gaps in the second hearing).

There is another small gap and then you will be asked to copy your answers for all four Teile onto the answer sheet.

Discover how YOU can use Dr. P's free Weekly Training Routine to prepare yourself for more confident German conversations in a matter of weeks.Click here for training!

Writing Section

The total time for the Writing Section is 30 minutes and you can distribute as much time as you like between the two tasks. All instructions are (as throughout the exam) in German only. So your reading will be tested just before you start writing.

Writing the first part (Teil Eins):

You have to write a 20-30 word text message. The scenario in the paper model is that you are traveling around town and you text your friend. You must apologize for being late, explain why, and specify a new meeting place and time. You must cover all three points.

On the “real” exam the task would presumably be similar (in text form or not?): three points to cover, 20 to 30 words.

Writing Part Two:

You must write a 30-40 word email. In the role model, the scenario is that your boss has invited you to his birthday party. You must respond, thanking and accepting, explaining that you will take someone with you and asking the way to the party.

Speech Section

Total time is fifteen minutes, during which you are screened with another candidate, your “Partner” or “Partner”.

Speaking Part One (Teil Eins):

This is a Q&A exchange between you and your partner.

On the paper template it says that you will receive four cards with the following instructions: “Geburtstag?”, “Wohnort?”, “Beruf”, “Hobby?” The task is to formulate questions based on these instructions and your partner must answer them. Then your partner will do the same. From the paper model it looks like you both get the same four prompts.

The challenge here, then, if you are the “asker”, is to turn the request into a brief question.

When it's your turn to respond, I imagine a short sentence or two will be more impressive than a one-word response (but don't worry).

Talking Part Two:

Part Two is “Von sich erzählen” (sharing information about yourself). It's a monologue and the two of you need to talk about a different personal matter.

Partner A is asked the question “What do you do with your money?” There are four questions, possible answers: clothes? groceries, rent? To save? Trip?

Partner B is asked “What do you usually do on weekends? Tips: Sports,...? To visit someone? With whom? Where?".

Speaking Part Three:

Talking Part Three is a two-way discussion task: agreeing on a time when the two of you can buy your mutual friend Patrick a birthday present. You both receive a copy of your personal commitment diary for Saturday, with various times blocked out for various activities such as “Frühstück bei Mario”, “Eltern anrufen” or “Schwimmen”.

Though none of you know it, there's only one time between 7 am and 10 pm that you're both free: 5 pm to 6 pm.

Therefore, you need to ask if your partner can do a specific time, and he will need to explain what he will be busy with, until you arrive on time.

If one of you suggests 5pm right off the bat, the conversation could be pretty short. On the other hand, it can take a while to get the timing right.

Passing notes and retakes

You take the entire Goethe A2 exam at one exam center in one day.

you need to getat least 60% in each sectionto spend. If you fail a section and want to retake the exam later, you will have to retake the entire exam. You can retake the full exam as many times as you like.

Discover how YOU can use Dr. P's free Weekly Training Routine to prepare yourself for more confident German conversations in a matter of weeks.Click here for training!

Want to know more?

If you are already approaching the A2 “exam ready” level, check out thepaper model and other practical materialsfor the Goethe-Institut German A2 exam on the Institute website. I did my best to get things right above butcheck for yourself and remember, formats and requirements sometimes changeand this is even more true while COVID-19 is still among us.

Good luckin your preparation and the exam!

Would you like to see more content on the topic here on the site? Let me know in the comments below!

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