The Listening Exam: 1. Before the Exam
Try to listen to a little of the language every day. Here’s a list of German and French radio stations that you can tune into online to give yourself added listening practice. Ask your teacher for some practice listening texts to work on at home too and, if possible, the corresponding transcripts. You may like to listen to them whilst reading the transcripts, or perhaps to listen to the extracts after reading the text. You could even try some practice French and German listening questions online.
The Listening Exam: 2. During the Exam
As you listen to the audio, don’t panic if you do not understand every single word of the extract. The extract may be long and wordy but much of it may not be relevant to the questions you need to answer. Try to concentrate on the elements you do understand, remember the questions and try to listen out for relevant information.
Pay careful attention to the number of marks awarded for a particular question: if the question is worth three marks, you should include three different points, or items, in your answer. And perhaps most importantly: if the question is asked in English, you should write your answers in English too!
The Reading Exam: 1. Before the Exam
The Reading Exam: 2. During the Exam
Take a mental note of the title of the text. Read the text all the way through, as well as all of the questions, before starting to work through them. Knowing what the questions are will help you pick out the key information and ignore irrelevant material. Make sure you know what the questions are asking and how many marks are available for each. As with the listening exam, make sure that if a question is worth three marks, you provide an answer that has three points – one for each mark. And again, remember that if the questions are in English, your answers are also written in English. You won’t get any extra marks, even for a perfectly constructed German sentence, if your answer should have been written in English..
When working through the questions, fill in all the answers that you understand first, before returning to the ones you are not so sure about. This may seem an obvious thing to point out but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve heard people say that they became nervous when they got stuck on some of the more difficult questions in the exam and became so focussed on answering those questions that they left themselves with no time to answer the easier ones.
Take your time, maintain a calm composure and be patient with yourself. If you’re not sure about the meaning of a specific word, don’t panic: can you find a way to work it out? Consider the context/theme of the text itself and the questions, similarities that may exist between the word you don’t understand in the text and words in either the language of the text or in your own. Think about the grammar points you know, or what you know of French or German-speaking countries and their culture, that could help you to work out the word.
And Now It's Your Turn!
Oh – and one more thing: Bonne chance, viel Glück and GOOD LUCK to you all!!!