Language tests

Most universities and colleges require their international students to prove their language skills. Of course, this not only serves the universities as a security that you can follow the lessons on site, but also yourself. After all, you want to enjoy your semester abroad and, if possible, return home with good grades and even better language skills. If your language level is not yet that high, many universities also offer language courses before or during your semester abroad. To give you an overview of the different language tests for English, French and Spanish, we have compiled some information for you here. Since each university has its own criteria, it is best to ask us before registering for a language test whether this test is also accepted at your dream university and ask us directly for the required results. We are happy to support you in your preparation – just contact us if you have any questions about the different language tests.

English Tests

English tests are required by most universities in English-speaking countries as a compulsory criterion in the application process in order to be able to assume a certain language level. One of the most common English tests is the TOEFL test; this is accepted by almost all universities. The IELTS and PEARSON are also commonly used tests to determine the English proficiency of international applicants and are accepted by many universities. The Cambridge Certificate is a well-known English test in Germany, which is also popular with many companies, but this certificate is rarely recognized as proof of language skills abroad. German-speaking applicants can now also submit the DAAD language certificate as proof of English at many universities in English-speaking countries. Here you can find out more about the various English tests:

English Tests - DAAD Language Certificate

The DAAD Language Certificate is a standardized language test offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for various languages, including English. Meanwhile, the proof is also accepted in many foreign universities and colleges. Many German universities offer the test in their language centers or respective faculties specifically for their students. Accordingly, the framework conditions also differ depending on the educational institution. In some places, dates are even offered weekly, while other universities offer only a few dates per year. The costs also vary considerably. Overall, however, it can be said that the DAAD certificate is much cheaper than, for example, the major language tests TOEFL or IELTS. Normally, the price is between ten and thirty euros, but some universities also offer a free test.

It is important to know that the DAAD does not directly specify the test modalities. This means that the test procedure can differ from university to university. It is also possible to determine the respective language level based on the performance in the English courses. In general, however, the following four core areas are tested in all variants:

  • Listening comprehension
  • Reading comprehension
  • Writing
  • Speaking

For each of these areas a separate language level is determined, which can range between the known reference frameworks from A1 to C2 (or f to a), where A1 or f is the lowest level and C2 or a is the highest level. Once you have passed the DAAD certificate, it is valid for up to two years.

Application for the DAAD Certificate

When registering for the DAAD certificate, it is particularly important to consider the different framework conditions of the various universities, as the registration modalities also differ in each case. It is therefore advisable to first obtain the necessary information on the website of the university or college. Normally, however, the educational institutions allow for long-term planning by making the exam dates available several months in advance. The staff of the language centers or the respective faculties can also provide information about the certificate and the local forms if there are any questions.

Duolingo - Online English Tests

The Duolingo test is an online test where you get the result after only 48h and which is an inexpensive test with currently 49 USD. Procedure of the test: First, it is briefly explained in 5 minutes how the test is structured and what is expected from the participants. The actual test, or the main part, then takes another 45 minutes and tests reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. The test requirements (e.g. microphone) can be found in detail on the homepage. In the FAQs you will also find the most important questions again as well as the link to a practice test.
There are some other common English tests (TOEIC, TESOL, TEFL, CELTA) which are rarely accepted by universities and colleges as proof of English proficiency and are therefore not described in detail here. If you decide to take one of these tests, please make sure that it is accepted by the university of your choice.

English Tests - TOEFL Test

The (TOEFL) is probably the best-known test for determining the English language skills of non-native speakers and is accepted as a standardized test by most universities in English-speaking countries as proof of English proficiency. The good thing about the TOEFL test is that you cannot fail. However, most universities require a minimum score, which you should definitely inquire about. The current TOEFL test is internet based (iBT) and must be taken at an official ETS test center.

The following four language skills are tested:

  • Reading Comprehension (reading comprehension)
  • Comprehension
  • Speaking
  • Written Expression (independent writing)

If you are reasonably proficient in English, you should have no problems with the TOEFL test. However, the test format is a bit different from what you are used to at school or university.

Tips for the TOEFL test

  • Familiarize yourself with the structure of the English test and the type of questions.
  • Read the questions carefully and pay attention to details (Which word pairs do not fit together?).
  • For the speaking part, you will be asked a question on a topic, then have 15 seconds to prepare and should speak freely for 45 seconds. Even for test candidates with good English skills, this part of the test format is often unfamiliar and so you should practice this type of free speaking beforehand if possible.
  • For the fourth part the time is very short, and you should be able to type reasonably fast. In addition, it is helpful to turn off the automatic spell checker in the typing program while practicing for the TOEFL in order to practice English spelling on the computer.
  • The TOEFL test is based on American English. So, remember the most important differences between British English and American English.
The questions adapt to your ability. This means that if you answer some questions of the same exercise incorrectly, you will be asked easier questions. If you answer everything correctly, the questions become more difficult. 

Registering for the TOEFL test

IMPORTANT:  Register for the TOEFL test in time! Since the TOEFL test is only administered on certain dates at the TOEFL test centers, there are often long waiting times for the next available test date. Therefore, we recommend that you apply at least three months in advance of the desired test date - possibly even earlier if you want a date at a specific test center.
You can register for the TOEFL online, by phone, by mail, and in person at selected test centers. The fee (please inquire about current test prices), can be paid by credit card and PayPal.

Links to registration:
List of test centers with upcoming dates
Registration information for the TOEFL test 

English Tests - IELTS Test

The IELTS English Test (International English Language Testing System) is recognized by most universities in Australia, Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand, but is now also accepted by many universities in the USA. Unlike the TOEFL test, the IELTS accepts both American English and British English. However, since the test originates in England and Australia, the questions and the texts are written in British English. There are two versions of the IELTS test: the "IELTS Academic" version, which is relevant for you, for students who want to attend an educational institution in an English-speaking country, and the "General Training" version, which is intended for job seekers and immigrants. Although both versions consist of the same four test parts (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking), the IELTS Academic specializes in academic English, while the IELTS General Training tests everyday English.

Tips for the IELTS test

  • As with any standardized test, you should familiarize yourself with the procedure of the English test as well as the type of questions.
  • In the Listening section, you should focus only on the questions in the text. Often the order of questions follows the information in the text.
  • Remember that you are not being tested on your general knowledge, but on your English skills.
  • In some tasks of the English test, you are asked to reproduce the exact wording of the source text, in others you are asked to explain the content in your own words. Pay attention to the exact question.

Registration for the IELTS test

IMPORTANT: Depending on the test center, the speaking part may take place up to seven days before or after the rest of the English test. Please take this into account when choosing your test center.
You can register for the IELTS either in person or by mail. You will need the following documents:

  • Registration form
  • Copy of your valid passport
  • Cash (if you register by mail, please inform yourself about the payment method of your test center)
Links to the registration
7 steps to IELTS test registration and download the registration form
IELTS Test Centers Worldwide

English Tests - Cambridge English Certificate

The Cambridge English Certificate is a commonly accepted test for immigration applications, for example for Canada and Australia, as well as for job applications in English-speaking countries. As the name suggests, this test is more in demand in Commonwealth countries than in the USA. However, as with the other test formats, you should always check first with your chosen university to find out which English tests are accepted as proof of language proficiency.

The Cambridge English Certificate is offered for four target groups:
  1. Young Learners
  2. General English and for schools
  3. Academic and professional English
  4. Business English

In addition, there are many subcategories, and you should be able to judge in advance which level you can pass. This is a disadvantage compared to the TOEFL test, which automatically adjusts to the ability of the test taker. You should therefore find out exactly which level of the Cambridge English Certificate you need for your application to a foreign university and research whether you have sufficient English skills to pass this level.

Registration for the Cambridge English Certificate

You can apply for a test date at one of the many test centers. However, you cannot take every test at every test center. You should therefore find out exactly which of the test centers you should apply to. The cost of the Cambridge English Certificate varies depending on the test category and test center.
You can find tips on the Cambridge English Certificate as well as exercises on the respective pages of the individual test categories.

Links to register for the Cambridge English Certificate
Find an Exam Centre
More information about registration

PEARSON’s PTE Academic Englisch Test

With PTE, Pearson offers a portfolio of English tests that can be taken in over 358 test centers (increasing daily) in more than 82 countries. The Pearson Test of English in the Academic section is accepted as proof of your English language skills at numerous universities worldwide, including elite universities such as Yale and Harvard, and can be used in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom for all visa and migration applications.
The test is taken in one sitting. Since scoring is done entirely by artificial intelligence, the test takes place exclusively on a computer with a headset. As with the other language tests, the familiar four areas of Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking are asked, divided into three phases.
The cost depends on the country in which you take the test, and how early you register may also affect the price. Prices are quoted in US dollars, the standard price in Germany is 240 US dollars. In principle, you can register up to 24 hours before the test.

Tips for the PTE Academic test
  • You will find numerous videos and a PDF on the test procedure on the provider's homepage.
  • For content preparation, there is a free online course, an offline course, course books, and an app. Various "preparation kits" are also available for a fee.
  • The test is evaluated completely by artificial intelligence, whereby dialects and accents, for example, are not evaluated, thus ensuring a completely unbiased assessment. The duration of the test is about 3 hours.
Links for registration

Registration via

French Tests

For the time abroad in the French-speaking area, many universities and colleges now require a certain language certificate to ensure that the non-native speakers can still follow the lessons well. There are two main types of French language tests: DELF / DALF, which consists of six independent units, and TELC Francais. Below we give you an overview of the two tests and show you what you need to pay special attention to.  

French tests - DELF and DALF

The DELF (diplôme d'études en langue française) and the DALF (diplôme approfondi de langue française) are both among the most important internationally recognized certificates for determining the language level of non-native speakers of French. The certification program consists of six independent units based on the six levels of competence of the Common European Framework of Reference (A1 to C2). Certificates are issued by the French Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Research.

The difference between DELF and DALF is that DELF is used for levels A1 to B2 and DALF for C1 and C2. The tests cover the core competencies of reading comprehension, listening comprehension, and written and oral language skills.
Once you have passed the test, the certificate is valid indefinitely and does not have to be repeated after a certain period of time, as is the case with other language certificates.

A total of five different types of exams are offered, with DELF / DALF Tout Public being of primary importance for students.

  • DELF Scolaire for students of secondary schools
  • DELF /DALF Tout Public for adults and students
  • DELF Junior for students whose school does not offer DELF exams
  • DELF Prim for primary school students
  • DELF Pro for people who need French in the professional world

Registration for DELF and DALF tests

There are over 900 test centers worldwide, including many language schools, where the certificate can be taken. In Germany, there are a total of 21 test centers where a test can be taken on several dates per year. The costs differ between the levels, for DELF you must expect about 20-50€, while the DALF test costs about 90-110€. Please note that it can take up to five months for the certificate to be issued, so make sure you apply early so that you receive your certificate in time for your stay abroad.  

Here you can find a list of all examination centers in Germany: Registration DELF DALF for all | Institut français d'Allemagne (

And here you can find the link to the official French site: Nos diplômes et tests de langue | France Education international (

Registration for TELC Francais

TELC Francais stands for The European Language Certificates Francais. This type of certificate is one of the most widely used in Europe. The certificate is offered in four different levels: A1, A2, B1 and B2.
Depending on the level, the test takes different amounts of time, A1 for example takes 85 minutes, while B2 takes almost 200 minutes. Each test is divided into two different sections. One is the longer written part and the other is the shorter oral part. As with most other tests, the four core competencies are tested:  

  • Reading comprehension
  • Listening comprehension
  • Written expression
  • Oral expression

Registration for TELC Francais

TELC GmbH offers practice questions and other practice material that you can order for preparation. It is also this company that conducts the exams. There are test centers in many different cities in Germany and all over Europe. You can take the exam there at any time. It is only important that you register at least 30 days in advance. The cost of the exam varies depending on the test center and must therefore be requested from them, but you can expect about 130€ to 230€. It is also good to know that as a vhs-participant you receive a 30€ voucher, regardless of the level.  

You can find an overview of the examination centers here: telc - Find an examination center
Spanish Tests

Even in Spanish-speaking countries, it is now common practice for universities and colleges to require proof of language skills. The two most important and well-known language tests are DELE, which can be taken at six different levels of difficulty, and CELU. In the following we will show you both tests in more detail and explain which one is best suited for you.

Spanish Tests - DELE

The DELE stands for Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera, which is a certificate of proficiency in Spanish as a foreign language. The certificates are issued by the Instituto Cervantes on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Education, which is also responsible for organizing them. In turn, the exams are created and corrected by the University of Salamanca.
The tests are offered for all six levels of the European Framework of Reference, i.e. A1 to C2. Once you have passed the exam, the certificate is valid indefinitely. As the best-known Spanish certificate, the DELE is internationally recognized in both university and professional settings. The test can be taken in over 100 countries.

The following four areas are tested at all levels:

  • Listening comprehension
  • Reading comprehension
  • Written expression
  • Oral expression

Spanish tests - Registration and preparation for DELE

You can register directly through the registration portal of the Instituto Cervantes:
Nuevo usuario | Exámenes - Instituto Cervantes

For the registration you also need a digital copy of your ID. If you register on the spot at an examination center, you will need a photo ID, two copies of the registration form and a document confirming the payment of the fees.
When you finally write the exam, you will need to bring your ID again, as well as the registration confirmation and the official exam request.

Exams are held several times a year, at least every two months, and you must register for them one to two months in advance. You can find the exact registration deadlines here:
DELE - How register for the DELE Spanish exams 2020.

Prices range from about 100€ for A1 to 220€ for C2, depending on the level.  

The Instituto Cervantes offers preparation courses for students. In the libraries of the institute, you can also consult old exams and practice with them. It is also possible to access them online at the following addresses:  

Preparar la prueba DELE | Exámenes - Instituto Cervantes CVC. Modelos de examen DELE. Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera. (

Please note that dictionaries and other aids are prohibited at all levels.


Spanish Tests - CELU

CELU stands for Certificado de Español Lengua y Uso. Like the DELE, the test is a certificate for the use of Spanish as a foreign language. It is recognized in both university and professional environments. The special thing about the CELU is that the test is offered from Argentina and is officially recognized there by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So, if you are planning to go to Argentina or another South American country to study, do an internship or work, the CELU is the ideal test to prove your Spanish skills.
Three levels of results can be achieved: "Good", "Very Good" and "Excellent". Certifications are available for the two levels "Intermediate" (B1-B2) and "Advanced" (C1-C2).
Once you have passed the certificate, it is valid indefinitely.

The CELU tests the following aspects:  

  • Reading comprehension
  • Listening comprehension
  • Written expression
  • Oral expression

The entire exam takes place in one day, with the oral part lasting 15 minutes and consisting of an interview with two teachers, based on texts read. The written part, on the other hand, lasts about three hours.

The exams are held twice a year, in June and November, and can be taken in all universities that are part of the ELSE Consortium. These include places in Paris, Berlin or Milan. The cost is about 90€. You can find an overview of the exam centers here:
Sedes | CELU

In Argentina you can also take the exams on several dates per year.

You can find more information about the CELU here on the official website:
¿Qué es el CELU? | CELU