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When trying to talk about 'testing out of' a university course or a level in DuoLingo, for example, I cannot find a suitable dictionary translation. All the dictionaries I'm familiar with only translate 'test out' as in 'try out', with results like 'ausprobieren' and 'versuchen'.

I, however, am looking for 'test out of' as in to skip some level by taking a test to prove that I do not need that course. For example, when I was in university, I wanted to take an advanced-level biology class. Most non-science major students would automatically need to take the lowest level, but I was sure that would be too easy for me. Thus, I asked the professor if I could test out of the lower level. That day, she gave me the final test for the lower-level class, I passed it, and I was able to move on to the higher level class without the normal prerequisite.

Are there any specific words or phrases in German to convey this idea?

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    Maybe "Prüfen und überspringen" or "Überspringen nach Prüfung"? – Iris Aug 31 '18 at 6:17
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    One of the best examples of this is Steven Spielberg, who went back to college in 2002 to finish off his degree. He needed a credit for a course on advanced film-making and submitted Schindler's List to test out of it – PiedPiper Sep 1 '18 at 11:03
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What you describe is not a common scenario in German schools. That means, even if you already know something about a subject, you cannot usually skip the class by testing out.

The same applies to universities, but there, different rules apply: often, it isn't necessary to attend class, students just need to pass the final exam and can decide for themselves whether they want to attend class or just learn from a script. These courses are described as ohne Anwesenheitspflicht, and whether it is offered really depends on the subject and the university's policy. Obviously, this doesn't make much sense in the context of language courses.

So, testing out is a built-in feature. You just say

Ich gehe nicht zur Vorlesung. Wir sehen uns dann bei der Prüfung. ;-)

This may be the reason why no obvious answer to your question springs to mind.

That being said, in some cases it does happen. Here are some examples:

Ich war in Spanien in der Schule, deshalb konnte ich die ersten Spanischkurse im Romanistikstudium überspringen: Ich musste nicht am Unterricht teilnehmen und konnte direkt an der Abschlussklausur teilnehmen.

Alternativ:

Ich habe eine Prüfung gemacht, um nicht am Kurs teilnehmen zu müssen.

Oder, in anderem Kontext:

Ich habe einen Einstufungstest gemacht und wurde direkt in Stufe XY eingestuft.

  • Ah! That explains things. All the answers I had gotten before now from native German speakers didn't quite get to my meaning, and now I see why. Thank you for the insight. :) – Megan Holloran Sep 1 '18 at 7:27
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sich seine Fähigkeiten attestieren lassen

means getting an affirmation about one's abilities.

Ich ließ mir mein Wissen durch eine Prüfung attestieren.
(I had my knowledge attested by a test.)

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Testing your own abilities is sich versuchen an.

Mein Freund versucht sich am B1-Zertifikat.

Ich versuche mich schon ewig daran.

If you want to convey the idea you are "just giving it a shot", add wollen and/or the particle mal. This adds uncertainty about the outcome.

Ich versuche mich mal am B1-Zertifikat.

Ich will mich (mal) am B1-Zertifikat versuchen.

  • This anwer is on the wrong track, bc "testing out" is not the same as "trying out" or "testing your own abilities". "Testing out" means that you know the stuff, proof that you can do it in a test and then skip the rest of the course content. – Iris Aug 31 '18 at 6:14
  • This is what sich versuchen an + <Name of a Test> conveys. – Janka Aug 31 '18 at 10:00
  • I would agree that this isn't quite what I meant. In fact, this is what dictionaries kept suggesting to me. Instead, I meant the (possibly rather non-German) act of being able to take a test to prove previous knowledge in order to skip a level and move on to the next level immediately rather than repeat a level you don't need. – Megan Holloran Sep 1 '18 at 7:33
  • You've misunderstood the question – PiedPiper Sep 1 '18 at 10:33
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    @Megan Holloran: It's Probehalber habe ich auch schon mal das Zertifkat B1 geschrieben. then. Geschrieben means you attended a written exam (rather than a course), probehalber and/or auch schon mal means you didn't really take the course. – Janka Sep 1 '18 at 12:07

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