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Why Do Language Exams Become More and More Difficult Every Year? My Experience from German – Level B1

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It has been ten years when I made my first internationally accepted language exam: level B1 from French. That time I loved French - language of poets, beautiful as well as difficult. I can remember the test was not easy at all for person who had never visited France before, who had never spoken to any native French person and thus who knew the language only from school. The test had four main parts like nowadays any international language exam has: reading, listening, writing and speaking. This month (July, 2019) after one month of intensive German classes and nine months of self-learning, I tried level B1 from German. Theoretically the difficulty should have been comparable to the one ten years ago, as even though it is a different language, the international level is still the same. But it was not and I was shocked how tough and large all the parts were.

In the beginning we got five (or even six?) tasks for reading where one was supposed to choose if a claim about the article was true or false, to match a claim with particular text or to choose from A, B or C. I tried to read as fast as possible, but still I had only around five to ten minutes left to get back to the claims I was not sure about.

In case of listening we heard some parts only once. If you overheard something, you were unlucky as there was no second chance to hear it again. If you belong into people who get nervous quickly, then listening might be your nightmare. Be prepared, better overprepared...

Regarding writing I am a risker. I prefer using more difficult sentences and making more mistakes than just using simple ones and playing is safe. Who knows, whether this is the right tactics and if you are appreciated for using more difficult phrases. I will tell you once I get my results ;) Nevertheless, writing three letters in an hour and half was a challenge.

The last part was speaking. Well again, people suffering from nervosity have a disadvantage here. Better write down as much as possible on time of preparation. There were "only" two parts: dialogue and presentation.

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To sum up, I felt like having much more tasks in the same time span than ten years ago in French. Coincidentally, I have overheard a conversation of two guys waiting for the German oral exam where one of them said the same what I had been thinking about after the first parts of the test - that he had heard the exam becomes more and more difficult every year. But why? Is it because we have an easier access to all the study materials online? Because travelling is easier? Maybe both together.

Furthermore, do you think the certificates should expire in several years? Honestly speaking, I do not remember anything of my French, but I am still proud of having B1. I do not think it is right. However, what about the money issue in case you have to renew your certificate every one or two years?

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