A Definite Guide to Spanish Proficiency Tests

How good is your Spanish? Take Spanish proficiency tests like DELE, SIELE, DIE, TELC to know.

Have you just crossed the first curve of regular Spanish AR, ER, and IR verbs? Perhaps you are still crawling through the long narrow streets of the slippery subjunctive.

It’s challenging to place precisely where you are in the magical city of your Spanish language journey.

Fortunately, Spanish proficiency tests are the milestone you’re seeking for.

But why, where, when, how, and which official Spanish exam should you pick? DELE, SIELE, DIE, CELA, CELU, TELC, ECL, or something else?

Getting confused? No worries!

I have done all the research, so you don’t have to. Here you will find everything about various Spanish language tests in this complete guide.


What is a Spanish proficiency test?

The Spanish ability exam measures how well you can use Spanish to communicate in a real-life situation. It covers diverse settings, contexts, and topics and how to use them in day-to-day talk.

There are usually 4 Spanish language skills (writing, speaking, reading, and listening). While some tests measure the student’s proficiency in all 4, others only assess a few.

Most Spanish tests are international standardized tests. It checks someone’s non-native Spanish knowledge.

Most concerned organizations conduct these tests globally following the CEFR guidelines. It stands for the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Yet, some follow their own policies.

Spanish language exam

Why should you take a Spanish ability test?

There are many rational advantages of Spanish language tests.

You can also use it as an acceptable proof of command in Spanish. It can help satisfy the demands of both employees and employers.

A Spanish proficiency test strengthens the academic qualifications of an employee seeking jobs requiring Spanish.

The documentary proof of the Spanish test certificate, added to other requirements, will put you on your way to a smooth interview process.

It results from your Spanish language test certification included in your qualifications.

They are significant for business organizations, educational institutions, and government bodies. It can help them know more about prospective candidates’ language skills and personalities.

It is also required for various UG, PG, and doctorate Ph.D. courses in thousands of universities worldwide. So, it opens a world of job possibilities globally and supports career progress.

Another great perk of such is that it becomes a confidence booster right when you pass them. It translates into developing your personality at a career and social transitioning level.

It will also assist with your visa or PR application, traveling abroad, and, of course, confirmation of your current Spanish mastery.

To sum up, the future prospects of Spanish tests are full of great opportunities.

Top 7 Famous Spanish language examinations

Although there are several Spanish language exams across the world. But I have only considered that are established and relatively more accessible and valuable.

These Spanish language tests can help evaluate your Spanish proficiency. From beginners to intermediate to advanced, you can pick the one per your current proficiency.

They all are internationally acknowledged. Still, the choice of certificate or diploma depends on your personal or professional purposes.

Here is a list of widely recognized certifications for the Spanish proficiency exams you can gain.

1. DELE (Diplomas de Español Como Lengua Extranjera)

DELE, which stands for the diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language, is the most well-known Spanish language test. Almost all governments, businesses, and academic institutions accept and trust DELE.

Instituto Cervantes administers the test everywhere on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Education & Science. Any non-Spanish native who wants to know their Spanish ability can take DELE.

The test adheres to the benchmarks of the CEFR. Thus, six DELE levels A1, A2 to B1, B2, C1, and C2 of the test from which you can choose. It also has a test for young learners aged 11 to 17, with only 2 levels, A1 and A2/B1.

Spanish language test

Like most other tests, DELE checks your speaking, writing, listening, and reading comprehension. After passing the test, you get a diploma that never expires.

Instituto Cervantes and its associate network organize DELE tests in over 1000 testing centers in over 100 nations. They conduct the test 5-7 times a year, though not all dates are available at every exam center.

Whatever your reasons to study Spanish, DELE can be a superb value to add to your resume to edge out in the competition.

2. SIELE (Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española)

SIELE stands for the Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española. It electronically certifies your Spanish competency level.

The Cervantes Institute, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Universidad de Buenos Aires, and the University of Salamanca support this Spanish international test.

This is a single, multilevel exam. The Spanish knowledge-level results are based on a scale of 1000 points, which corresponds to the CEFR.

SIELE has four tests — written expression and interaction, reading and listening comprehension, and spoken speech and communication. You can either pick one test or all 4 through SIELE Global.

Unlike other language tests, you can select any time and date that works for you. SIELE is also more flexible and has more test centers than DELE.

Proficiency in Spanish language

An official Spanish diploma like SIELE allows students to pursue higher study in Hispanic nations. You also get a competitive benefit in your job search.

It is, thus, a great asset to include in your CV. The SIELE certification is valid for only five years. This is a little drawback for some test takers.

3. DIE (Diploma Internacional de Español)

A prominent Spanish language test with international recognition is the DIE (Diploma Internacional de Español). From beginner to advanced, it offers 10 levels of proficiency.

A non-profit organization, FIDESCU (The Foundation for the Development and Research of Spanish Culture), conducts DIE. It is under the Ministry of Education of the Spanish government.

Anyone can take the DIE test if the candidate is a non-native Spanish speaker with a minimum age of 7 years. This exam assesses oral communication and writing. So, you can choose either or both of the tests.

DIE writing has 6 levels, whereas oral has 10 levels. It ranges from basic to mastery.

It also has 3 specializations. For example, Medical Spanish (levels B2 & C1), Business Spanish (levels B2, C1 & C2), and Spanish for Tourism (levels B2 & C1). The specialized exam does not have A1, A2, and B1.

There are 100 points in total. And 65% is the minimum score required to get a DIE diploma. You can also pick online or face-to-face in over 50 exam centers in 24 countries across 5 continents.

Like DELE, the DIE score and certification are valid for life.

The fee, dates, and registration are center-specific. So, one needs to contact the preferred centers to get all the details.

4. TELC (The European Language Certificate)

TELC (The European Language Certificate) is an international standard test for Spanish and nine other languages.

TELC Spanish does not have all CEFR levels. You can take Standard Español (A1, A2, B1, B2), Escuela – School (A1, A2, A2-B1, B1, B2), or A1 Junior.

The exam has two sections — written (listening, reading, and writing) and oral (speaking).

The questions cover situational responses, formal letters, listening comprehension, subjective topics, reading, vocabulary and grammar MCQ, etc.

Spanish language skills test

The total score is 300 points, including 225 for written and 75 for oral. To pass the TELC Spanish, you require a minimum of 60% written and oral. For example, at least 45 points in speaking and 135 in writing.

Thousands of exam centers exist in 25 countries. But most testing centers are in Europe. Besides, they conduct Telc tests throughout the year, and each organization sets the dates independently.

The exam cost depends on the level, type of test, and where you take the exam. Like other Spanish tests, the certificates are valid for a lifetime.

5. CELA (Certificación del español como lengua adicional)

The CELA (Certificate of Spanish as an additional language) is another Spanish examination. Through CEPE, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) conducts the test.

It measures a candidate’s knowledge and level of proficiency in Spanish. It focuses more on communication that is helpful in academic, personal, and professional.

This is also based on the CEFRL model. This exam certifies 3 levels — Independent (B1), Advanced (B2), and Proficient (C1).

Spanish ability test

CELA comprises 5 tests evaluating all 4 essential language skills. For example, writing, comprehension in reading and listening, and oral expression.

If you are over 18 years old and a non-native speaker, you can take CELA. 

You can appear for the test online via a computer fitted with a webcam, headphones, and a microphone. Plus, you can take it in person at an accredited testing center.

You can find all the details on the official website, like test centers, dates, test structure, format, registration fees, etc.

6. CELU (El Certificado de Español: Lengua y Uso)

The CELU (Certificate of Spanish Language and Use) is the official exam based on Rioplatense Spanish. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the government of Argentina recognize it.

Any candidates are eligible to take as long as their mother tongue is not Spanish and must be 16 years old. With an ID card or a passport, one can take the test. 

It is not as famous as DELE. Still, hundreds of institutions across Spanish-speaking South America, Brazil, China, and Italy accept and admit CELU.

Spanish language proficiency test

The test contains 2 parts. The first one consists of a 3-hour test which includes listening to oral texts and reading and writing texts. And the 2nd one is of 15-20 minute reading of brief texts and talking about them.

The 2 passing grades are Intermediate (B2) and Advanced (C1). You can get the results online after 2 months from the exam date. The score and certificate are valid for life with no expiration date.

They hold the test twice a year, in June and November. It conducts in all the universities that are part of the ELSE consortium.

Many CELU testing centers exist in Argentina, Brazil, the UK, Germany, France, Russia, Italy, etc.

7. ECL (European Consortium for Modern Languages)

ECL (European Consortium for the Certificate of Attainment in Modern Languages)) is another notable Spanish test.

The exam is open to anyone 14 years old or more. As of today, it offers Spanish and 14 other European languages.

ECL tracks CERF but has 4 levels: A2 (Beginner – Waystage), B1 (Elementary -Threshold), B2 (Intermediate – Vantage), and C1 (Advanced – Effective Operational Proficiency).

Like other Spanish exams, it contains 4 tests. E.g., reading and listening comprehension and writing and oral communication.

Also, interviewers check your style, formal accuracy, pronunciation, word power, and communicative effectiveness in speaking.

You can decide between paper-based and online and must register online three weeks before the application’s last date.

They organized the ECL Spanish examinations 2-3 times a year at over 200 centers in 44 countries. The exam price varies and depends on the center you sign-up for.

How to choose the right Spanish proficiency exam?

Exams for Spanish language

With so many options, you will always find something that suits you the best. The choice, of course, will depend on your Spanish language goal, need, availability, and budget.

For example, if you’re learning Spanish for careers, DELE could be your best. This is because it is widely recognized and has lifetime validity. 

There are also many less-common tests. This is ok if you just want to check your current Spanish aptitudes at a reasonable price as a hobby.

What if you do not know your current Spanish level but want to know where exactly you stand? Then, SIELE could be a superb choice since it is a single multilevel test.

Also, not all Spanish tests are available everywhere. You may also not find your preferred dates, or tests are so rare that you must wait a few months.

You may have some business needs to speak Rioplatense Spanish. So, you wish to take CELU to review your Argentinian Spanish. But then you discover this test is not being offered at the place you live.

You also have to consider the levels, types of tests, variants, cost, and popularity.

For example, you may feel some Spanish exams are pretty expensive. But the affordable alternative may not be globally accepted. So, it does not match your long-term plan.

Most exams comprise speaking, reading, writing, and listening. But you may look for a test focusing on a specific ability, like writing or speaking. 

This is only possible if exams are modular. So that you can only take the separate sections as per your need. You may also be interested in distinct varieties of Spanish and not generic across the board.

Before committing time and money to any Spanish proficiency test, review all the details, benefits, and disadvantages. Then, finally, make an informed decision and pick the right one that fits you the best.

Do you have any questions or are unsure about something? Then, share your opinions in the comments below!

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