Assessment Report

Level 1 German 2021

Standards 90883  90886


Part A: Commentary

Candidates need to be aware that to answer the questions they first need to thoroughly understand the texts presented. Reliable vocabulary knowledge is the key here. In the listening standard, candidates need to listen closely and take notes to aid memory. In the reading standard, frequent re-reading and reference to the text are helpful, especially when dealing with more complex sentences which may involve nuanced or implied meanings.

It is also important for candidates to read the question carefully and understand what it is they are required to do with the information they have heard or read – for example, compare, make a choice or judgement, or give an opinion. Candidates who address the questions closely, make clear statements, and use detail from the text to justify their answers, gain better grades.

Part B: Report on standards

90883:  Demonstrate understanding of a variety of spoken German texts on areas of most immediate relevance


In this examination candidates listened to three discrete passages, one based around school life, one on a popular means of transport, and one on holidays. The length of the recording was well within the time limit specified and the topics related to basic personal information concerning young people’s lives.

Question One required candidates to rank suggestions for coping with school stress for themselves personally and explain their ranking. Question Two asked candidates to compare positive and negative characteristics of e-scooters. Question Three required them to note how teenagers’ holiday wishes had changed over time. As noted in the general commentary above, candidates who scored better were able to show clear understanding of detail and use that detail to justify their answers.


The first passage was well understood, and many candidates wrote detailed answers remembering to refer to the text. The second passage was more difficult for several candidates, although the vocabulary was at an appropriate level. Some, obviously familiar with e-scooters, wrote substantial answers that did not relate to the passage and therefore did not reach Merit or Excellence level. For the third passage, candidates had to describe changes in holiday wishes from childhood to adolescence. Although the passage was understood reasonably well by most candidates, some were unsure how to go about describing the changes.

A few common difficulties included: “praktisch” means practical, not practise. “Vor drei Monaten” means three months ago, not for three months. “Ohne Eltern” means without parents. “Nach zwei Regentagen zelten wir nicht mehr so gern, weil alles so nass geworden ist.“ Many candidates also found this sentence difficult. (After camping for two rainy days, we didn’t like camping so much anymore because everything had become so wet.)

Candidates with good vocabulary knowledge performed well at this level. Candidates should be encouraged to learn their vocabulary well, even when their lessons are online, as reliable vocabulary recognition is beneficial to every language skill.

Successful candidates used the Listening Notes spaces well to help construct well-organised and detailed answers.

Grade awarding

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly: 

  • demonstrated some comprehension of the passage
  • provided brief answers with limited supporting detail
  • demonstrated a lack of vocabulary knowledge to show limited understanding.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • understood little of the passage
  • provided brief answers or longer fabricated ones
  • demonstrated only basic vocabulary knowledge.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • demonstrated clear understanding of the passages
  • selected and used relevant supporting material
  • required to know more vocabulary to comprehend the finer details.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • demonstrated thorough understanding of the passages and were able to communicate their understanding
  • justified any conclusions by providing supporting detail
  • provided full, well-articulated, organised responses.


90886:  Demonstrate understanding of a variety of German texts on areas of most immediate relevance


In this examination candidates were required to respond to three written texts relating to basic personal information. Although no word limit is specified, candidate responses would indicate that the total length of the passages was manageable. The texts were of different types, one in the style of an online chat, one a diary, and one a response to a survey. All were the “candidate voice”.

Candidates were asked to identify positive and negative elements in comments about online learning and compare with their own experiences. Candidates were keen to share their opinions here, but some fell into the trap of straying too far from the stimulus material. In the second question, candidates were asked to consider what lessons might be learnt from a teenage boy’s week living without a cell phone. The better answers here were balanced and did not rush to the conclusion of “cell phone addiction”. For Question Three, candidates were asked to give a healthy lifestyle score to two teenagers based on their responses to a survey.

This question was well done, with most candidates supporting their score with evidence from the text.


Most candidates who achieved attempted all questions. The questions themselves appeared to be well understood.

Question One about experiences with online learning produced a good range of answers, although some candidates made very general statements and did not score so highly. Problems for some candidates included not understanding Klassenarbeit, distinguishing between Schule and Schüler, translating froh as free, and thinking that if you were in your Nachthemd you were in bed.

Question Two did not have a scaffolding section, which possibly led some candidates to theorise about what Tim might have learnt and not to justify their answers with enough detail about what happened during the week. The word Freund in its various forms was not accurately understood and there was confusion about for whom YouTube was more interesting. Treffen (in Beim Treffen mit Freunden) strangely was often read as Essen.

Question Three worked well, with candidates willingly assigning grades and backing these up with good detail from the text. Difficult sections which were understood by the better candidates were: wir mussten einmal (many thought she regularly jogged) and nur wenn ich erst in der zweiten Stunde (many thought he needed two hours to bike).

Grade awarding

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • understood the gist of the passage and some of the key ideas
  • did not demonstrate finer details of vocabulary and grammar, e. g. singular/plural, pronouns, tenses, negatives
  • provided brief answers, which lacked depth, detail, and development.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • demonstrated insufficient vocabulary knowledge to show basic understanding of the passage
  • recognised some isolated lexical items
  • expressed opinions without justification
  • provided a response about their own experiences with little or no reference to the text.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • showed a clearer understanding of the texts overall
  • provided longer answers supported by some relevant detail
  • did not demonstrate an understanding of some nuance and implied meanings
  • identified finer details of language features.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • demonstrated consistently thorough understanding of the texts
  • understood more complex language features and structures
  • responded fully to the questions and justified their answers with close reference to the text
  • provided responses that showed thought and planning.

German subject page

Previous years' reports

2020 (PDF, 137KB)

2019 (PDF, 258KB)

2018 (PDF, 77KB)

2017 (PDF, 42KB)

2016 (PDF, 213KB)

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