What is a C-Test?
A C-Test is typically a paragraph or two based on a single topic, which has words that are missing the end half of the letters. It’s also commonly included in entrance exams (Aufnahmetest) for “studienkolleg” of Germany. If we were to have a C-Test in English, it would look like this:
Dogs as Pets
Many peo____ keep do__ as pets in their hou___. Dogs a__ considered loyal and frie____ animals, alth____ they need to be tra____.
Now, a native speaker of English can see pretty easily that the sentence reads as:
Many people keep dogs as pets in their houses. Dogs are considered loyal and friendly animals, although they need to be trained.
The test might seem a little unusual, but it is actually a pretty good way of judging how good you are with a language. It tests your vocabulary and basic grammar skills, as well as your comprehension of the material. It’s not easy to cheat a C-Test without knowing the words.
These tests aren’t simply geared at university applicants, but may also be used in some job interviews, in which case the language gets more complicated and more specific to the position you want to apply for. I’m concerned about the university application in this article.
Rules behind C-Tests
Although I have found unfortunate examples that don’t follow this rule, a word in a C-Test may be missing exactly half of its letters, or half plus one more letter. If you have “d__” come up in a C-Test, it will not mean “diese” or “dort”, but it can mean “da”, “die”, “der”, “das” or the like. Usually your entrance exam will have a foreword, instructing you about this rule.
A word like “Stadt” will never be written as “S___” or “Stad”, but only as “St___”. You wont see “Sta” either, since that implies that the rest of the word should have three or four letters.
How can I study for these?
It may be difficult to study for a C-Test since you are assumed to have a certain vocabulary behind you, it can span over many different topics, from school systems in Germany to “Dogs as Medicine” (I’ve actually seen this in an example C-Test and have linked it at the end). A good advice would be to read a lot of different texts and pay attention to the frequently used phrases and words. Your grammar should also be studied well, because you’ll be asked about endings of definite articles and will need to know adjective endings.
Solving example C-Tests from the Internet is a big help, since this gauges your skill – you’ll likely to see examples of a C-Test entrance exam paper on the pages of your university’s website too.
When you’re reading a German text, make note of the recurring words; the ones which aren’t verb, nouns or adjectives, but the glue that binds sentences and gives them additional meaning. “Immer” (‘always’) is a popular entry in C-Tests, for instance. “Mit”, “zu”, “aber”, “oder”, “man” – these are all very frequent encounters. When you’re studying German grammar, you’ll find that there are some reflexive verbs that use the “sich” (or mich, dich, etc.) addition. “Ich interessiere mich für Kunst” (I’m interested in art). The word “sich” will be omitted. If you know these verbs, you’ll know that the blank “s___” will be “sich”, and not “sind” (are) – but knowing that means you should know your grammar.
Keep a list of some frequently used phrases in German. Ones like:
in der Regel
They’ll help you with blanks concerning them, as well as help make more sense of the paragraph.
A C-Test for your entrance exam will most likely not be comprised of just one paragraph, but of a series of 4 to 6 paragraphs, usually dealing in one topic. Your time will be limited, so be sure to pace yourself.
Always solve the blanks you’re absolutely sure in first. These could be words like “oder” (od__) or “aber” (ab__), ones that don’t leave you doubting. If you’ve studied your grammar and read your fill, you’ll less likely to have problems with these words. I would say that your main problem would be foreign nouns and verbs, much less adjectives.
After you’ve done that, go through the paragraph again for unknown blanks like adjective endings and articles. Look at the sentence, it will frequently give you clues about your answer.
- Did you know that nominative and accusative adjectives that are weak or mixed will be ending with “en” ?
- For that matter, did you know that dative and genitive adjectives that are weak or mixed, no matter what gender the following noun is, will be ending with “en”?
- Look at the preposition before the word with a blank – is it an accusative-only, dative-only or genitive-only preposition? If it’s a mixed preposition, can you find out what it will be?
- Look at the noun following the adjective, do you know what gender it is? Do you know if it’s singular or plural – for that matter, have a look at the concerned verb and see how it’s declined.
- In the dative case, plural forms of nouns will gain an “n”, don’t forget that. (“mit den Kindern”)
- If you’re uncertain about the gender of a noun, look at its ending – does it fit with any of the typically masculine, feminine or neutral noun endings? (For instance, all nouns ending with -keit are feminine. Take that, die Möglichkeit – possibility!)
- If you’re sure the word you’re trying to fill out is a verb, how would it be declined? Look at the noun, is it singular or plural? Do you have an additional noun to help you out, maybe your sentence is passive and the verb needs to be in past participle tense.
Look at the text as a whole and see where you can decypher the answer based on your clues.
C-Tests in the Internet
Unless you have a book, the Internet will be your only friend in this matter. Finding C-Tests isn’t a hard job, practically every university or studienkolleg will have its very own sample exam page. Some of them will not have answers, but you can find a friendly German forum to help you out.
I’ll list the C-Tests I’ve found myself over the past months.
Uni Kassel – No answers.
Studienkolleg Leipzig – (PDF) Answers given, there’s also an exercise for writing a short essay.
mein-Deutschbuch.de – B1 C-Test with answers.
mein-Deutschbuch.de – B2 C-Test with answers. This would be a little harder than the B1 test.
Forum Deutsch als Fremdsprache – A website that shows how many answers you’ve gotten correct. You’ll need to consult a native speaker for the answers.
Uni Kassel – A 20-minute limited test with a percentage answer. It’s good if you want to time yourself, but remember that different universities will have different time limits.
Klett – C-Test without answers, but with a percentage to gauge your language ability.
Stuffen International – Answers provided.
Studienkolleg Hamburg – Answers available. Look at the left menu for two more C-tests.
Freue Universität Berlin – [PDF] Answers are given. This test has other exercises too, but scroll down for the C-Test.
Studienkolleg Glauchau – [PDF] No answers provided. There’s a second exercise on essay-writing, the Textproduktion, that you may come across in some universities, such as this one and Uni Leipzig.
Uni Halle – [PDF] Answers provided. This isn’t a proper C-Test, since a lot of words are shown with first letters only.
HTWG Konstanz – Fill-in-the-blanks C-Test page. Answers are not provided, but you get a percentage and your average changes of getting into the Studienkolleg; 70% or more and your chances are good.
Uni Hannover – Go to the bottom of the page for a .doc file. No answers.
TU Berlin – [PDF] No answers given, scroll towards the middle of the file.
I hope this’ll be a good start for you, but don’t forget to roam the Internet for more.
Useful Reading on the Topic
Over the years, I’ve written other posts on C-tests and Studienkolleg. Check out my tags on Studies, German or Studienkolleg for more!