How Do I Cram for a German Placement Test?
December 29, 2011 10:54 AM   Subscribe

How do I shake off the rust and review four years of German language and grammar in a short time period?

Hi everyone. In two weeks I will be taking a German placement test at my university, and hopefully do well enough that I can skip the basic German 101-104 classes and enter into more advance German courses. I took four years of German in high school, but I never took the AP or SAT II tests.

However, it's been about 6 months since I've done any German review and I'm sort of at a loss for how to prepare for the placement test. I was very good at German in high school, but admittedly, I am very much out of practice.

I picked up a beginner "Wie Bitte?" textbook and workbook from a used bookstore yesterday, and I'm going to work through it over my winter break. I was wondering though if you all had any other tips or ideas on how I can accelerate my review. I doubt I'll be able to learn any new content, but do you have any specific ideas to help me remember all the old rules and vocabulary I once knew?
posted by Atarah to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Two weeks may be a bit short on time, but is there a Goethe Institut near you? You might be able to arrange for some one-on-one time with one of the tutors.
posted by jquinby at 10:57 AM on December 29, 2011

Get Deutsche Welle's Langsam Gesprochene Nachricten podcast.
posted by princelyfox at 11:00 AM on December 29, 2011 [2 favorites] has a pretty cheap membership option that gives you access to podcasts, flashcards, grammar quizzes, etc. at different skill levels. It's pretty helpful as a refresher and as a place to hear/read German in lots of different contexts.
posted by tetralix at 11:24 AM on December 29, 2011

Two weeks is on the short side for spaced repetition to give you many benefits over traditional cramming, but it will concentrate your effort where it's most needed in the short term and help you retain it all in the long term for when you actually need it in advanced courses. My spaced repetition program of choice is Mnemosyne.
posted by dfan at 11:32 AM on December 29, 2011

Former German Lit major at Penn State here: One tip I can offer you for taking tests is to not worry over much about your grammar but concentrate on a rounded vocabulary and expressing your point.

Details like noun gender and verb endings should take a back seat; don't ignore them but don't sweat over them. Know the core vocabulary: all the prepositions, pronouns and possessives, the primary modal verbs, and such. Use the present tense whenever writing essay type questions whenever possible.

Also, in preparation, start talking to yourself in German throughout the day. "Ich sehe den Hund im Zimmer." "Die schwarze Telefon ist am Tisch."
posted by Ardiril at 11:45 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Here are some websites that I've found to be helpful:

Nancy Thuleen explains a lot of basic grammar really well. So does this page from the Dartmouth German department. The Goethe Institut has a lot of exercises for you to practice on. You could warm up with the A1 exercises and work your way up as you remember more.

Here is Deutsche Welle's Langsam gesprochene Nachrichten.

And here is Pirates of the Carribean on YouTube in German. And here is the fourth Harry Potter book read by Rufus Beck. Or here's the sixth Harry Potter book if you liked that one better. And here's Loriot (the famous German comedian) having Christmas.

I think trying to immerse yourself as much as possible will be helpful, which is why I think goofy things like Pirates of the Carribean and Harry Potter are useful. When you're sick of studying seriously, you can turn one of those on and still be practicing German and getting used to the sentence structure again but without it feeling like you're Studying. You can also make Facebook talk to you in German and Gmail (I got the passive cemented in my head that way, because Gmail is always telling you that emails are being sent or have been sent).
posted by colfax at 12:27 PM on December 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

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