Erweiterungsprüfungen (extension exams)are exams which qualify graduates to teach another subject or more subjects at the same type of school for which they have already passed their first state teaching exam. This is possible for all types of school. Such exams can be taken as early as straight after the first state exam, but they can also be sat at any later point, including after the second state exam.
These extra exams have no effect on the grade for a graduate's first state exam. However, the additional teaching subject(s) acquired are taken into account during the applications and employment process.
Zusatzprüfungen (additional exams) enable graduates to qualify themselves to teach at additional types of school. These exams can only be taken after the second state teaching examination (i.e. after completion of two years as a trainee teacher). As with exams for extra teaching subjects, further study is required before these exams can be taken.
The additional qualification to teach at primary schools (L1) can be gained by anyone who has passed their second state exam in L2, L3, L4 or L5. They are examined in primary-school teaching methods, German and mathematics as teaching subjects, and one further teaching subject.
The additional qualification to teach at Hauptschulen or Realschulen (L2) can be gained by anyone who has passed their second state exam in L1, L3, L4 or L5. They are examined in one teaching subject. Students of L1 who want to do an additional exam to teach at Haupt- or Realschulen have to pass the exam in two subjects.
The additional qualification to teach at special-needs schools (L5) can be gained by anyone who has passed their second state exam in L1, L2, L3 or L4. They are required to undertake four semesters of study in special-needs education and then sit an exam in therapeutic and special-needs education, write a diagnostic dissertation and sit oral exams in two areas of special-needs education as well as in general education and social-science subjects.
The qualification to teach at vocational schools (L4) and grammar schools (L3) cannot be gained retrospectively.
A word about additional teaching qualifications
Almost all students nowadays wish to increase their chances of a good job by adding to their normal state teaching exam such additional qualifications as detailed above.
This may seem, at first glance, to be nothing but advantageous, since nobody would want to be left behind while 'everybody else' seeks to better their chances. However, a little consideration does reveal arguments against too many extras.
Firstly, the applications and employment process is different to what many people imagine. It is certainly not the case that having an additional qualification to teach in one type of school is a positive factor in one's application to teach in another type. In contrast, the main consideration is applicants' grades in their state teaching exams (among graduates with the same combination of teaching subjects). Given that the state-exam grade is so important, any additional qualification must not be allowed to compromise it. The time required to study one's main combination of subjects intensively must be kept free and should not be taken up with studying for a less important qualification.
Furthermore, modularisation has made it increasingly difficult to accomodate additional studies in one's timetable without overlapping with other subjects. Since Giessen University has developed a far-reaching system of 'protected' times for the timetabling of certain subjects without overlapping with all normal second subjects, it is impossible to guarantee that students will be able to attend all the course required by a third. Students' main priority should be to attend those courses required for their intermediate assessment. What makes it even more difficult to meet the requirements of a third subject is the fact that a modularised degree involves taking modules, and even courses within modules, in a particular order - which is further complicated by the principle that, when places in a course are short, priority is given to students who need it for their main subjects (§9 of the Study and Examination Regulations).
Another reason to think twice before embarking on an additional qualification is that the training for each type of school concentrates on a particular pupil group, which provides the focus for any theorising and practice during the programme of studies. Attempting to immerse oneself in the idea of working with a completely different pupil group can lead to confusion.