Having a good command of German is essential for students pursuing German-taught programs. This helps in establishing communication with peers and professors in the German academic environment. Therefore, having a good command of German language is mandatory while pursuing your studies in Germany. You can demonstrate your language proficiency by submitting results of German language tests or completing a preparatory course.
Here are some widely accepted German Proficiency Tests:
DSH: It stands for Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang or German Language University Entrance Examination for International Applicants. This language examination undertaken by most international students wishing to pursue German-taught programs in Germany. This exam tests the linguistic capabilities of a student and the scores are shared with the admissions office of universities. Generally, the students are required to take this exam before the start of an academic year. They have to appear for both oral and written examinations. The standard DSH exam fee is €40 and €140 across universities. All universities in Germany accept the DSH certificate.
A student is awarded DSH-1, DSH-2, and DSH-3 certificates according to the percentage of marks scored by them. Here, DSH-1 is awarded to students scoring 57%, DSH-2 (67%), and DSH-3 (82%). DSH-2 and DSH-3 certificates are considered for university admissions. You can check the examination dates on your host university’s websites.
TestDAF: This stands for Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache and translates as the “Test of German as a foreign language”. This German proficiency test is conducted by TestDAF-Institut and is designed for non-German speakers. This certificate is accepted by all universities across Germany and you can take the test in any of the 500 test centers in 100 countries. The grades are usually marked in TDN3-5, which corresponds to language levels B2-C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). It covers reading and listening comprehension and speaking and writing. Every section is individually graded and sub-grades are indicated on the certificate. Most universities require students to earn TDN-4 in all parts of examination. The students with TDN 5 increase their chances of acceptance at universities. The TestDAF is usually conducted 6 times a year at test centers managed by TestDAF-Institut. The standard fee is €110 worldwide, and can be paid online.
GDS Certificate: This stands for Goethe Institut German Language Diploma and corresponds to language levels of A1 to C2 of the CEFR. Level A1 is for the beginner and C2 and above for the most advanced learners. The C2 certificate shows a level of language ability equivalent to that of an educated native speaker. The exam requires the examinee to comprehend complex texts and communicate fluently in spoken and written German.
Achieving a ZOP certification is a significant accomplishment and is accepted as proof of superior language proficiency when seeking admission to German universities (Hochschule). This test can be taken by non-German speaking students above 16. A student needs to undertake approx. 1,000-1,200 hours of German language tuition. The examination fee is € 355.
Language Certificate of the Education Ministers’ Conference (Level 2 with C2 in each of its sections): The Deutsches Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz (DSDK) is an official German language certificate issued by the German education authorities and the Foreign Office (Germany). Upon completion, the certificate certifies language competency on levels B2/C1 or A2/B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. The level DSD I equals to B1 level of the European Reference Framework for Languages and shows that a student has achieved a level of proficiency required to gain entry to a German university. The level DSD II equals to B2/C1 level of the European Reference Framework for Languages and shows that the graduate has reached the language level required to pursue classes in German at the university. These exams test the student based on reading, writing, listening, and oral communication.
telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule Certification (which is equivalent to TestDaF): The telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule demonstrates a candidate’s proficiency in German and readiness to pursue a program in a German university. This certificate is recognized by all universities and technical or applied sciences colleges in Germany. A student can take this test any number of times. The certification is valid for an unlimited time. It tests a student based on reading, listening, written and oral expression for targeted preparation. It is a standardized and centrally corrected examination that guarantees a fair assessment. The telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule shows a student’s ability to pursue research or higher studies at an advanced level at a German university. The Humboldt-Institut’s C1 German courses are thus the perfect preparation for the telc C1 Hochschule exam.
telc Deutch B1 Certification: Zertifikat Deutsch / telc Deutsch B1 is the right exam for students with basic German knowledge. It tests a student’s general language competence in reading, listening, and writing German. The certificate can be submitted during the German citizenship application. Zertifikat Deutsch für Jugendliche / telc Deutsch B1 Schule is recommended for students studying in schools while the telc Deutsch B1+ Beruf is recommended to students seeking admission to arts and music colleges in Germany. These exams are held throughout the year and you must register at least 30 days before the date. These tests are conducted at telc licensed test centers and the fees differ across these centers.
Österreichisches Sprachdiplom (ÖSD Zertifikat C1): The ÖSD Zertifikat C1 exam tests a candidate’s ability to communicate in various professional and social contexts around complex topics. This exam tests a student’s competency in written and oral exam. The written exam comprises reading, listening, and writing, whereas the oral exam comprises speaking tests. The tests emphasize on the accuracy, correctness, and contextual appropriateness. It is aimed at those learning German and wishing to study at a German-speaking university, with an altered version available for learners aged 14 and above. There are more than 200 exam centers worldwide and fees vary across countries. You can check the official website of OSD to see the test dates.