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Friday, April 18, 2014

Tips for the TestDaF: Mündlicher Ausdruck

7 Sections
Computer & Headset
35 Minutes

The speaking portion of the TestDaF is done with a computer and headset. You just click the play button once to start the section, and then it plays through the recording for 35 minutes while also recording your responses. For each section, the directions will be read aloud. Then, you will receive a specific amount of time to prepare your response (Vorbereitungszeit). You will hear a tone, a voice will prompt you to give your response, and then it is your time to talk (Sprechzeit). After it has run through all 7 sections, you hit the stop button, and you are done. 

Although the topics always change, the formats of each sections stay the same. So, by learning about each of the specific formats now, you can be best prepared on test day. Also, I have heard from some people on the inside that only two of these 7 exercises are actually graded. So, you should know which 2 to focus on.

Aufgabe 1
Vorbereitungszeit: 30 Seconds
Sprechzeit: 30 Seconds

Think of this as the warm-up for the speaking portion. Section 1 is always a phone call, and you are asked to introduce yourself, explain why you are calling, and ask a question about the given situation. For example, if the situation is that you are calling the TestDaF test center because you want to sign up for the exam, you should say:

Guten Tag! Ich heiße Courtney und ich interessiere mich für den TestDaF. Wissen Sie was die Prüfung kostet?

Tips:
  • Prepare the question you will ask during your preparation time
  • Do not worry if you mess up this one, it is not graded

Aufgabe 2
Vorbereitungszeit: 1 Minute
Sprechzeit: 1 Minute

This section asks you to talk about a specific custom in your home country. Typically, it will say something like: 

Ihr Studienfreund Marco erzählt Ihnen, dass er ein Date hat und dafür noch Blumen kaufen möchte. Er fragt Sie, was man in Ihrem Heimatland macht, wenn man z.B. ein Date hat.

You then have to discuss what the tradition is in your home country, and what you would do in his situation. You only have 1 minute to talk, so just a few sentences is more than enough.

Tips:
  • Make sure to touch on both points during your speaking time
  • If you do not know how it is in your home country, then simply say you do not know
    • Just remember to explain why you do not know

Aufgabe 3
Vorbereitungszeit: 1 Minute
Sprechzeit: 1 Minute 30 Seconds

This one is all about describing a graph. Luckily you should already have the different types of graphs and the vocabulary needed to describe them memorized for the Grafik Beschreibung of the Schriftlicher Ausdruck. So, you just need to do the same here, except orally.

Die Linien-/Balken-/Kreis-/Säulendiagramm zeigt...

Aufgabe 4
Vorbereitungszeit: 3 Minuten
Sprechzeit: 2 Minuten

For this section, you will have to weigh advantages and disadvantages of the given subject and give your opinion. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Good, because this is one of the graded sections that you will need to do good on to get a 4 or 5. 

The topics of this sections are always academic in nature, such as "should Germany allow parents to homeschool their children?" or "Should Germany create elite universities that receive more money than the rest of the universities in the country?"

Tips:
  • Spend your preparation time making a list of the advantages and disadvantages
  • During the speaking time, just work your way down this list
  • Remember to not only state your opinion at the end, but also provide an explanation of why

Aufgabe 5
Vorbereitungszeit: 2 Minutes
Sprechzeit: 1 Minute 30 Seconds

This one is very similar to number 4. Instead of an academic topic, however, you will just be giving a friend some advice. The prompt will be something like:

Ihre Freundin Birgit will ihr Spanisch verbessern. Sie hat zwei Möglichkeiten: Sie könnte einen privat Lehrer finden oder sich für einen Kurs an der Sprachschule anmelden.

Once again, you just have to weight the advantages and disadvantages as well as give your own opinion. This one is really like a breather before the killer, number 6.

Aufgabe 6
Vorbereitungszeit: 3 Minuten
Sprechzeit: 2 Minuten

This is the toughest one of them all. It is also the other graded section, so prepare wisely. For this section, you are given a graph. You will need to name potential reasons for whatever trend the graph is showing.

For example, it may show how much fast food was consumed from 1950 to 2000. You can see the amount has gone up year after year. So, you will have to talk about the fact that there are more fast food restaurants nowadays, people do not cook as often, etc. 

You will also have to predict how this trend will look in the future. Will people continue to consume more and more fast food? Or do you think it is on a downward trend? Why?

Yes, it is a lot to say in 2 minutes, so you really have to prepare well during the preparation time.

Unfortunately, I did not understand the topic of this section when I took the exam, which I am sure is why I got a 4 and not a 5. Since I did at least try to make an argument and describe the graphic well, however, I still managed to snag a 4. 

This just shows that this test is all about how your formulate your opinion, not what your opinion actually is. So, if you are not sure how the trend will develop in the future, just try your best to name your possibilities.

Aufgabe 7
Vorbereitungszeit: 1 Minute 30 Seconds
Sprechzeit: 1 Minute 30 Seconds

Yay! You made it to the end, just 3 more minutes, and you are done with the test! This section is likely not graded as well, so take a breath, and go out with a bang. For this section, you just need to give a friend some advice. For example, your girlfriend wants to quite smoking or your classmate is looking for a new roommate. You tell them if their idea is good or not with a little reasoning behind your decision. No problem.

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I was told that when they grade the Mündlicher Ausdruck at the TestDaF center, they only listen to sections 4 and 6 (the TestDaF is a business, after all, and time is money). So, while you should try to give the best response for every section, these are the two most important. They will only listen to other sections if they are not sure what score to give you after listening to 4 and 6.

Good luck, and let me know if you have any questions!

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