By Celeste Amron, Elise Bilodeau, Tillie Davies, and Kristy Kocot
This past January, 90 students from T.C. took the National German Exam. Of the 90 students, 50 were awarded gold medals, silver medals, bronze medals, or certificates of achievement. Over 20,000 students from 700 schools nationwide took this highly competitive exam.
The National German Exam tests students on reading, listening, vocabulary, and culture through a listening and viewing, and reading section. It is used to compare students across the country on their language skills. The exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions and takes 95 minutes total to complete the two sections.
The exam is organized and sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG). The AATG consists of 4000 members and is present across the nation. They provide students with scholarships and awards, which are presented after the exam.
“We require the exam for all German students at level III or higher. The school district pays for the exam,” said German Teacher Adam Levine. There are level II, III, and IV tests, but these do not necessarily correspond with the level of German that the student is taking.
The achievement awards are based on percentiles. “It’s [based on] how you did compared to everyone else,” said Sophomore Julie Cizek, who received a silver medal. Students who score in the top ten percent receive gold medals, top twenty percent receive silver, top thirty percent receive bronze, and top fifty percent receive certificates of achievement.
Based on their achievement, students who take the National German Exam are able to receive different awards and prizes. Students who won gold medals and have a B grade average are eligible to apply for the Study Trip Award. Students who receive this go on a three to four week trip to Germany the summer after the exam where they “attend classes at an academic high school, stay in homestays, and participate in various excursions to places of cultural significance,” according to the AATG.
To prepare for the exam, German students review in class and take a practice exam. Junior Elspeth Collard, who received a gold medal, said, “We are so lucky to have such a strong German program through middle school and high school which allows us to be confident in our German language skills”.
Other students have come up with ways of their own to prepare for the exam. “I mostly just listened to German music, which I do normally,” said Cizek.
“Good instructional practices are the best preparation for the exam with lots of listening, reading and authentic materials,” said Levine. His efforts are much appreciated: “Herr Levine allows us to be incredibly confident upon taking [the exam] through the immersive German environment he creates in the classroom,” said Collard.
The exam provides students with beneficial opportunities to increase their level of education and knowledge of the German language and culture.