Do I need a German language certificate (TestDaF or DSH) to study in Germany?

John Roman, U-Multirank

January 07, 2020 15:11 (CET)

Do I need a German language certificate to study in Germany

Which abilities are tested during the TestDaF and DSH (German language certificates) exams?

To receive a German language certificate like the TestDaF (Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache) and DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung fur den Hochchulzugang), several parts of the language are tested, including:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Listening comprehension
  • Oral production
  • Written production

The German certificate TestDaF is a language test for foreign learners of German who plan to study in Germany, or who require recognised certification of their language skills. The TestDaF examination is centrally developed and rated by the TestDaF Institute based in Hagen, Germany. The test can be taken at licensed Test Centres in about 80 different countries, or in Germany. All examination candidates receive the same tasks and the examinations are graded by trained raters. The TestDaF measures all four of the above listed language areas and provides you with detailed results to show you exactly where your strengths and weaknesses are.

The TestDaF is accepted by all German universities and requires a minimum rating of TDN 4 to TDN 5 on all four parts. Some universities may accept partial scorings of TDN 3, but this should be confirmed with the respective university you are applying to.

More information about TestDaF can be found, here.

What are the benefits of the TestDaF exam?

  • TestDaF exams can be taken in more than 80 countries worldwide
  • The TestDaF certificate is valid for an unlimited time
  • All examination candidates have an unlimited amount of times to retake the exam if they are not satisfied with their scores

The German certificate DSH is a language test for foreign learners of German who plan to study in Germany, or who require recognised certification of their language skills. The DSH exams are coordinated directly by German universities offering it. To confirm your potential university offers the DSH exam, visit their respective websites. The amount of test dates are offered is also decided by the respective universities, but usually includes one to four test dates per year. Unlike the TestDaF, the DSH exam measures only two of the four above mention areas of language: written and oral. Each test is taken on a separate day, and admission to take the oral exam is only offered once the examination candidate has passed the written exam.

The DSH is accepted by all German universities except the University of Stuttgart, and require a score of DSH-2 or DSH-3 for enroling applicants. Some universities make an exception for applicants in technical degrees. If you want to study law or medicine, you will in most cases need a DSH-3 score.

What are the benefits of the DSH exam?

  • The DSH exam only measures two parts (written and oral)
  • The DSH certificate is valid for two years
  • All examination candidates have an unlimited amount of times to retake the exam if they are not satisfied with their scores

More information on DSH can be found, here.

Do I need a German language certificate in Germany if I am applying for degree programmes offered in English?

If you’re considering enroling in an international degree programme (in English), you won’t need to take the TestDaf or DSH tests. Nevertheless, learning German is recommended to improve your German language skills for everyday life. Students interested in an international degree programme offered in English will need to show proof of English proficiency (native English speakers will need to show proof of country their country of origin, e.g. Passport). To receive an English language certificate like the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), four parts of the language are tested, including: reading, listening, speaking and writing. For more information on IELTS, or TOEFL, click here.

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