Guide to Language Exams: Goethe Examinations

Goethe language tests are some of the best-known proficiency tests in the German language, next to the TestDaf and DSH exams. The Goethe examinations are simply a name given to a set of language exams developed and administered by the Goethe Institut – a non-profit cultural association which focuses on promoting the study of German language and cultural exchange. Previously, they were also in charge of TestDaf but, after its creation, the TestDaf Institute took over for that exam. The Goethe Institut is active worldwide and has over 160 local institutes, making them the largest organisation dedicated to internationally promoting German culture and language.

If you are looking for a flexible and widely recognised certificate in German, the Goethe tests are definitely the way to go. Another great benefit of the Goethe certificates is that they do not officially expire, although universities or employers might require a result not over two years old.

Goethe Examinations – What Are They?

The Goethe exams are an umbrella term for the various German proficiency exams that the Goethe Institute is responsible for. These range from the absolute beginner to the highest level of proficiency, corresponding to CEFR levels.

In addition to the six general German exams (which cover levels from A1 to C2), the Goethe Institut also offers two beginner level exams (A1 and A2) specifically designed for young learners, ages 10-16. These are the Fit in Deutsch exams. The B1 level exam is also suitable for young learners but, after that, the tests focus on adults.

For adult learners of general German, the institute has an exam that covers every CEFR level. For absolute beginners, there’s the Start Deutsch exam – Goethe-Zertifikat A1: Start Deutsch 1. After that, the Goethe-Zertifikat A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2 follow.

For professionals, there is also the Goethe-Test PRO which focuses solely on professional German in a workplace setting.This test has no pass or fail grading system (unlike the other Goethe exams) but is, instead, used to determine job candidates’ existing German skill level.

How to Take the Goethe Examinations?

In order to earn your Goethe certificate, you need to find an official test centre close to you, register for the exam on a suitable date, and pay a fee for taking the test. Since the fees are determined by every partner institution separately, you should contact your local exam centre for the exact amount you have to pay.

To find an exam centre close to you, select your country from the menu on this web page. You will then be redirected to a country-specific version of the institute’s website and can find more info about your local testing centre.

What Do Goethe Examinations Look Like?

Like most language exams, so are the Goethe examinations divided into four parts – reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The speaking part is done in-person, either individually, in pairs, or in a group (only for the A1 level). The other parts of the test are joined into one module and completed consecutively. For the B1 level exam, it is possible to take the speaking module separately from the reading-writing-listening one.

The duration of the exams depends on which level you are taking. For example, the Goethe-Zertifikat A1 only takes around 80 minutes, with 20 minutes each dedicated to writing and listening, 25 to reading, and 15 to speaking. For the C1 level exam, however, the writing part by itself is 80 minutes, with another 70 for reading, 40 for listening, and 10 or 15 minutes for speaking.

Another case entirely is the C2 level exam, also known as the Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom. In this case, the four parts come in modules that can be taken either separately or together. The four separate certificates you get from completing the modules can then be combined into a single all-round diploma.

In each module, a maximum of 100 points is possible and 60 points are required to pass. For the A1, A2, B2, and C1 levels, the total possible number of points is 100, with 75 points in the written and 25 points in the oral part. You need at least 45 points in the combined writing-reading-listening parts and 15 points in the speaking part to pass.

How to Prepare for Goethe Examinations?

Naturally, the best way to prepare for the Goethe German examination is with the help of a private teacher who has experience in preparing people for this particular language exam. Our German teachers can introduce you to each of the test parts and help you pass with confidence.

Additionally, you can always use the Goethe Institut website which provides great free materials for practice. You can prepare with accessible exercises online or download practice tests. To access these materials, simply choose the exam you want to prepare for from this web page, and click on Practice Materials on the right side of the page. You will then have access to the Goethe Institut’s own materials that help you prepare specifically for your German proficiency exam.