Are you an A-Level German student looking to boost your grades and excel in your exams? Guten Tag! You’re in luck! I am a fully qualified A-Level German teacher with 10 years teaching experience and in this blog post, I’ll share 10 awesome resources, tips and hacks that will help you to sharpen your language skills, tackle challenging topics, and feel more confident preparing for the A-Level German exams (AQA, Eduqas and Pearson Edexcel). Want to access an A*? Apply these 10 tips during your course. Download the tips in a handy PDF here.
To start with, I’ll say that these resources are awesome and will help you to improve your grade. Remember though, it’s not going to happen overnight. The course contains a number of topics, loads of vocabulary and grammar points that you’ll need to get to grips with. In addition, the exam boards have specific marking criteria that they’re looking for you to meet. If you want to know how to improve your A-Level German grade, use my hacks and resources below! If you’d prefer a visual version, why not check out my YouTube How To Improve German A-Level Grade below? Feel free to subscribe for more useful A-Level content too!
HACK 1: A-Level German Textbooks
To kickstart your A-Level German learning journey and improve your grades, I recommend doing the activities set by your teachers in the text books thoroughly. By that, don’t just skim read the text and complete the exercises half heartedly! As standard, take time over them. If it’s a reading activity, read the questions, then read the text. Ensure you answer the question fully, look up unknown vocab and note it down to learn (more about that in Tip 4 below). With listening activities, ensure you look at the transcript after completing the activities.
For Edexcel A-Level German, I’d recommend: Edexcel A-Level German (includes Year 1) by Paul Elliott et al.
If your school doesn’t provide a textbook, I absolutely recommend getting a copy, as they cover the related exam board’s content comprehensively. The German A-Level textbooks offer detailed explanations, exercises, and sample exam-style questions. It’s a must-have for every serious German student who wants to improve his/her/their grade!
HACK 2: A-Level German Specification
Really familiarise yourself with the Edexcel/AQA A-Level German specification document available on the exam board’s website. These documents clearly outline the exam topics, assessment objectives and key language skills required. Understanding the exam requirements is crucial for effective exam preparation. As a private German A-Level tutor, I spend a good amount of time ensuring students know what the exam boards are looking for in each of their exams (speaking, listening, reading and writing). If you know what AQA and Edexcel are looking for, it’ll help you to improve your grade tremendously. Obviously with the right application!
HACK 3: German Grammar Exercises
Grammar is key to the A-Level examinations. Passive, subjunctive and conditional tenses class class as complex language to attain the higher grades, for example. You can practise this for free online, such as:
Or, you could use a AQA German A-Level Grammar Workbook which would be equally fine for Edexcel! Although the topics are slightly different, the grammar knowledge required is quite similar.
Websites like Nancy Thuleen’s Grammar Section, with grammar explanations, practice questions. In addition, a number of the activities have the answers too. Regular practice of grammar will strengthen your understanding and improve your writing skills, listening, speaking and reading skills too. Remember, grammar is the backbone of any language!
HACK 4: German Essay Writing Tips
For the films at A-Level, I tend to teach Goodbye Lenin or Das Leben der Anderen. For the books/plays, I like der Vorleser and der Besuch der alten Dame. Knowing the plays, film and books you are required to know inside out is a good starting point.
a) Ensuring you know the characters well and how they link to each other and the themes (see point b).
b) Learning about the key themes and how the film/book/play fit into the historical and social context of the period and country. That’ll bag you some extra marks!
c) Finding key quotes around the key themes/characters – one or two per theme and character will be enough and will allow you to offer evidence, which again, will get you extra marks.
d) Looking at the examiners reports of the responses to past writing questions on the exam boards’ websites. These will contain sample essays with a mark for each and a report analysing the positives and the improvements. Use those to help you improve your work!
e) Writing! This A-Level German Excel Spreadsheet With Film, Book and Play Writing Questions
I would also recommend accessing the Hodder Guide’s for the play/book/film you are studying. If your school doesn’t provide a copy, you can access them here and purchase them if you have the budget.
A-Level German Common Film, Book & Play Study Guides
Film Study Guides
Literature Study Guides
Der Besuch der alten Dame Hodder Study Guide for A-Level German
These resources will give you a clear picture of the film/literature in detail and will also help you structure your essays effectively, enhance your written expression, and impress the examiners. Your essays will shine like never before!
If you have the time and resource, you could also use a Translation and Essay Writing Workbook to practise writing further.
HACK 5: QUIZLET (or ANKI)
I know there are at least two ways to learn vocabulary, in context and as individual words. Whilst I realise that we don’t speak, write or read in individual words, vocabulary learning throughout the course is vital to obtaining the higher grades. Check out an extract of the mark scheme from the AQA A-Level writing paper. For the highest grades, it states: ‘the student uses a wide range of vocabulary…’ The private A-Level German tutees who get the highest results, are those who learn vocabulary throughout the course. This comes from pure experience!
So, download either Quizlet or Anki onto your phone. Create Quizlet sets by topic and just add the vocab to those sets as it comes up. For Anki, you may not be able to add lots of sets easily, but it follows the same principle. Learn often – like daily, for at least 10 minutes.
HACK 6: Exam Technique Videos
Honing your exam technique is key to doing well in your A-Level German exams. Check out the A-Level German Section of My YouTube Channel for videos to hone your exam technique. It includes more tips, tricks and strategies which are tailored specifically to the reading, listening, writing and speaking exams of the A-Level German course. I address tackling different question types, time management tips to ‘quick wins’! These videos will boost your confidence and optimise your exam performance.
HACK 7: A-Level German Past Papers
It’s true – practice makes perfect when it comes to exam practice! Although this is hack 7, it’s actually pretty important in how to improve your German A-Level grade. The AQA A-Level German past papers, Eduqas and Edexcel A-Level German past papers are not only invaluable for familiarising yourself with the exam format, they will also help you to get a feel for timing and question types.
Access the official past papers on the AQA, Edexcel and Eduqas websites, analyse your answers using the mark schemes and transcripts, and seek feedback from your teachers or an A-Level private tutor to identify areas for improvement.
HACK 8: A-Level German Examiner Reports
I have already touched on the A-Level German Examiner Reports above in Hack 4. They truly allow you to gain valuable insights on what gets marks and what doesn’t, as well as guidance on how to improve your answers. You can access the examiner reports on the AQA, Edexcel and Eduqas A-Level German pages by filtering the options under ‘Resource Type’. It’s absolutely like having insider knowledge!
HACK 9: German Listening Practice
Often, students find speaking and listening the hardest, since schools don’t offer enough practice. I recommend immersing yourself in the language with German-speaking podcasts like “Slow German” or “Coffee Break German.” Or videos provided by websites such as “Easy German”. These podcasts and audio visual clips cover a range of interesting topics, enhance your listening skills, and expose you to different accents and colloquial language. Why not try speaking about one of the questions posed for yourself? Avoid passive listening though! Try applying some of the listening activities suggested here whilst listening to provide more focused practice?
HACK 10: Facts and Figures
As you cover the topics, make it your mission to note down at least one fact per sub topic.
For example in AQA A-Level German, ‘Die Familie im Wandel’ topic is split up into three sub-topics, i.e. 1.1. Beziehungen innerhalb der Familie, 1.2 Partnerschaft und Ehe and 1.3 Verschieden Familienformen. The facts will come in handy as ‘relevant information to support their arguments’ for AO4 in the speaking mark scheme, in relation to the third bullet point in the speaking exams (image is from Candidate material: cards: Paper 3 Speaking – June 2019).
Well, there you have it! You now have a treasure trove of resources to elevate your AQA A-Level German learning journey. They really are my tried and tested ways of helping my private A-Level students to improve their grades. Remember, consistent practice, engagement with the material, and seeking guidance from your teacher or a knowledgable tutor are crucial for success. With these top 10 tips, tricks and hacks at your disposal, you’re well on your way to feeling more confident in your AQA A-Level German exams. Viel Glück!
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