While a German A Level can at times be taken without prior experience, chances are that most pupils who decide to study German at AS and A Level will have spent the two years previous to that learning the language.

For them, AS and A Level German will take them to the next level of language learning and, in this higher class, they will begin to explore more complex linguistic properties while placing themselves in more advanced scenarios and settings.

Many students who chose to study German at GCSE back in Year 9, whether on a whim or because they had a goal in mind for acquiring this particular language, will probably have come to realise that they actually found it surprisingly easy!

While German is relatively similar to English, it naturally has a very unique make-up and its own set of exceptions to grammatical rules to master. As such, the longer you spend learning the language at school, the better your grammar and vocabulary will become.

Many pupils who choose to study German in Year 9 are surprised at how easy they found it.
You may have been surprised at how easy you found German at GCSE level. Photo credit: Jirka Matousek via Visual Hunt / CC BY

In addition, studies have shown that dyslexic pupils often find it's easier to learn German online than French or Spanish, which could be down to its somewhat logical and intuitive parts of speech.

French and Spanish derive from Latin which is a classical language that many Britons are just not in tune with.

Benefits Of Studying Towards A German AS and A Level

German is a very beneficial and very popular language today, and is widely spoken across the globe. Some say that it is the language of a powerful nation that supports its fellow European countries, for instance by keeping the eurozone alive and supporting struggling economies.

Germany has even bailed out Spain and Greece during hard times, which means that it plays a big part in keeping some of our favourite holiday spots going strong!

Following the war and its own financial crisis, Germany rose from disaster and gained recognition and praise for its excellence in the fields of manufacturing and engineering, while also becoming increasingly well-known for its high-class education system.

Curriculum At A Glance

Progressing from the GCSE German course, AS and A Level German are designed to develop the student’s confidence in communicating in the language (i.e. across all topics: speaking, listening, reading and writing). The focus that all AS and A Level specifications put upon the various ways of communicating makes more effective communicators of these language pupils.

Through the understanding of culture in Germany and other German-speaking countries, students will be motivated to grow more curious about the language and its heritage and thus encourage interest to keep them engaged with lessons.

It is this enthusiasm that will enable a language learner to be more proficient and to start to think about broadening their skills either through further education or by embracing opportunities to travel.

Some schools or colleges may offer you the chance to visit a German-speaking country or to take part in an exchange programme, both of which will give you an opportunity to excel your language skills.

Chatting with German students can really enhance your German skills.
A school trip or exchange can really boost your language skills. Photo credit: COD Newsroom via VisualHunt / CC BY

Though optional on many courses due to financial matters, pupils who complete exchanges often find the experience to be a very worthwhile one and come back invigorated by the language immersion. Students can later draw on these experiences when it comes to their exams.

Exam boards

All of the same exam boards offer German at the higher levels of AS and A Level, and these will follow the standard exam structure in terms of assessment for the unforeseeable future (i.e. being graded from A*-G).

Below is further information about the principal exam boards offering the AS and A Level German specifications in the UK.


With new specifications having been brought out this year for German (teaching from 2016 and exams from 2017), AQA has modified its previous syllabus which now includes, at a glance, modules on Social issues and trends, Artistic Culture and Grammar, with optional module Literary texts and films.

The contents of this higher-level course reflect the sophistication of the course in comparison to the GCSE syllabus. The qualification offered by AQA is linear, which means that students sit their exams at the end of the course. Therefore, pupils will be assessed for the AS Level at the end of Year 12 and for A Level in Year 13.


As with AQA, OCR is currently reforming its qualifications in line with the government programme of general qualification reform. While AQA has developed a new syllabus for German at AS and A Level, OCR has decided not to redevelop this specification and, as such, the final assessment opportunity for these courses (H076 and H476) will be summer 2017 and the re-sits taking place in summer 2018.

The purpose of the course is to give candidates a good grounding in all aspects of the language and culture of Germany, with the aim of enhancing speaking, listening, reading and writing skills within German.

With just one written assessment and speaking test at each level, the course’s examination methods are straightforward and cut the burden and stress on pupils. There is no coursework required on this course.


Edexcel has developed a new accredited specification in German. The newly constructed syllabus includes cultural content designed to engage and inspire students while also offering pupils the chance to read and learn about German Literature to further enhance their language skills.

As previously mentioned, many AS Level pupils will have completed a GCSE qualification in the language therefore this course supports the progression from GCSE level and encourages students to develop and use the transferrable skills already gained as part of their previous german lessons.


WJEC provides an exciting opportunity for German beginners to build on their knowledge of the language through social, intellectual and cultural themes. The course is designed to develop a better understandimg of linguistic properties and to provide a deeper comprehension of the culture of Germany and German-speaking countries.

As with the new Edexcel specification, students enrolled on the WJEC German AS and A Level course will be given the opportunity to study literature and film to increase their cultural awareness and with the objective of encouraging fluency in the language.

Being taught since 2016, WJEC offers these AS Level and A Level qualifications, which have been accredited by OFQUAL, on the basis that prior learning has taken place in the form of a GCSE or equivalent qualification.

Using Past Papers For Revision

As with GCSE, AS and A Level German exam papers from previous years can be downloaded by going to the dedicated area on your exam board’s website. While you are very welcome to look at and even attempt past papers from exam boards other than your own, you must remember that your particular exam may not be structured in the same way and therefore could be marked quite differently. Saying that, all revision and practice can be worthwhile.

One way to avoid any confusion when it comes to the assessment of your exams is to check the markI got scheme related to your specification. This, along with examiners’ notes and comments, can open your eyes to the types of responses the examiners are looking to see and can allow you to better understand what gains and loses marks in your particular paper.

Alternatively, your teacher may offer you a series of papers to attempt either in the classroom or at home. If completing past papers at home, you must ensure that you try your hardest to recreate exam conditions, which means no interruptions, no disallowed materials and a strict time limit.

The benefit of completing mock exams set by your school or college is that it will force you to get into the right mindset and to approach the revision task more seriously.

Career Prospects For German Students

Prospects.co.uk, a top site for students seeking information on careers and opportunities for further study, confirms that modern foreign languages are high in demand and that these skills are sought by most business that trade internationally. Consequently, you may be interested in following up your language course with a degree and even a masters degree.

Other career choices that languages like German can offer you are being an Interpreter, a Translator or a Teacher of languages. However, there are various other industries in which German would be useful too.

With a language like German, you could open up many career opportunities, including becoming a translator or interpreter. Photo credit: LoS, Traducción e Interpretación via Visual Hunt / CC BY

Many language programmes offer the opportunity to travel abroad to study or work, so if you plan on taking a degree in German and benefitting from a year in a German-speaking country, try to find a placement that relates to the career path of your choice for the optimum work experience.

This will not only look great on your CV, it will significantly improve your language skills with a stronger emphasis on language in the workplace.

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Laura is a Francophile with a passion for literature and linguistics. She also loves skiing, cooking and painting.