German Subject Test

beginning of content:

Introduction

The German Subject Test allows you to showcase your ability to read and understand the German language. In addition to complementing or enhancing your admission portfolio, it may also give you a head start in college by allowing you to fulfill basic language competency requirements or place out of introductory level German courses.

Online practice will be available later this fall. Learn about other ways you can practice.

Important:

Important Notes

  • Offered in June only
  • Complies with the German spelling reform (Rechtschreibreform) as much as possible

Test Basics

Scoring, Timing, Number of Questions

Points Minutes Questions
200–800 60 85 (Multiple Choice)

Getting Ready for the Test

  • Knowledge of words representing different parts of speech and some basic idioms within culturally appropriate contexts.
  • Ability to select an appropriate word or expression that is grammatically correct within a sentence. One part of the test contains vocabulary and structure questions embedded in longer paragraphs.
  • Understanding of such points as the main and supporting ideas, themes, and setting of a passage. Selections are drawn from fiction, essays, historical works, newspaper and magazine articles, and such everyday materials as advertisements, timetables, forms, and tickets.
  • Ability to read passages representative of various styles and levels of difficulty. Each test edition has several prose passages followed by questions that test your understanding of the passage. The passages, mostly adapted from literary sources and newspapers or magazines, are generally one or two paragraphs in length and test whether you can identify the main idea or comprehend facts or details in the text.
  • 2–4 years of study in high school or the equivalent
  • Gradual development of competence in German over a period of years
Content Approximate % of Test
Vocabulary in context and structure in context (grammar) 50%
Reading comprehension 50%

Download the SAT Subject Tests Student Guide (.pdf/6.3MB) for more information on the topics.

Download for free:

Buy at the bookstore:

The Official Study Guide for All SAT Subject Tests, Second Edition

Get the only study guide available for all 20 SAT Subject Tests.

Features include:

  • 20 full-length, previously administered Subject Tests
  • Detailed answer explanations for all test questions
  • The most up-to-date tips and approaches on selecting which tests to take, the best time to take the tests, and how to best be ready for test day
  • The latest versions of the instructions, background questions, and answer sheet
  • Detailed descriptions of every Subject Test, including topics covered and recommended course work
  • Two audio CDs for all six Language with Listening Tests

Buy now.

Note: Free online practice will be available later this fall.

Additional Things to Know

When should I take the German test?

There are a few factors to consider as you decide when to take the test. You should have at least two years of strong preparation in the language, but the more the better.

It's recommended that you take the German test as close to the end of the most advanced German class that you plan to take, while still balancing college admission and placement requirements. You’re likely not to do as well if you take the test after you haven’t been in a German class for several months.

  • For seniors studying German: If German is a strong subject for you, be sure it’s one of the SAT Subject Tests you take in time for colleges to see your score. If you’re only taking it for placement purposes, and not as part of your application, wait until you’re as far along in your course as possible. If you want to take the German with Listening test, remember that it’s only given in November (and don’t forget to bring a portable CD player with earphones).

What’s the difference between the German test and the German with Listening test?

The German test includes reading only — you read in German and answer multiple-choice questions. The German with Listening test, given only in November, includes an additional listening portion — you listen in German and answer multiple-choice questions. Although students report feeling more anxious about the listening portion, they also tend to do better on that part of the test. Plus, many colleges indicate the German with Listening test gives them a fuller picture of your ability and may be more useful for placement purposes.

Which German is used on the German test?

The language used on the test is taken from pieces written and dialogue spoken by those who use German in their everyday lives. Words or sayings specific to certain geographic areas will not be used in the test. If you’ve had at least two years of strong preparation in the language, then you should be able to understand the German on the test.

I am familiar with German but have not taken a class in high school. Can I still take the German test?

No matter how you acquired your knowledge of German, it’s important to show colleges what you know. Bilingual (or multilingual) abilities are achievements that deserve to be highlighted. Your test will be scored the same way as that of someone who learned German in the classroom only. If you’ve been exposed to a lot of spoken German, then you should definitely consider taking take the German with Listening test.

If you will be using these results to fulfill a college admission requirement, you should be aware that different colleges have different policies regarding Subject Tests in foreign languages. You should check with the colleges that you’re interested in about their policies and seek guidance from your counselor or teacher on your specific situation.

Please note that this test reflects what is commonly taught in high school. Due to differences in high school classes, it’s likely that most students will find questions on topics they’re not familiar with. This is nothing to worry about. You do not have to get every question correct to receive the highest score (800) for the test. Many students do well despite not having studied every topic covered.