Survival Guides

TestDaF and more certifications for your language skills

All language tests and official certificates of the German language are based on the “European Reference Scheme for Languages”. The basic level is called A1, and the highest level C2, which is almost native speaker-like.


If you want to validate your language skills officially (you might need it for some job branches, or for a permanent visa), there are different exams. We will explain to you what we consider to be the most impactful certificates: the TestDaF, TELC and the certificates of the Goethe-Institut.

The levels A1 and A2 are the levels of basic German knowledge.

If you are planning to work as an au-pair in Germany, a A1 or A2 German language certificate will help you to get a Visa. Another important example is if you need a Visa and want to come to Germany because of your partner (“Ehegattennachzug” in German).

Once you approve the levels B1 to B2, you will be allowed a permanent Visa (of course together with several other requirements you will need to fulfill). If you plan to study at a German university, sometimes, you will have to revalidate your high school degree, and if you are from a country outside the European Union, or not from some other countries (like the US, Australia, Japan, or others), you will have to study a general revalidation course called “Studienkolleg”. In order to get admission to the Studienkolleg, you will have to prove your German knowledge. For this, levels B1 to B2 will be necessary.

The language level B1 is also required if you want to become a German citizen (“Einbürgerung”).

The language levels C1 to C2 are advanced language skills. For many programs that are completely in German at German universities, you will need to prove level C1. This, however, depends on several factors and varies from career to career and at each university.

Language level C2 is basically as good as a German native speaker! For almost no job, you will be obliged to prove this high level of proficiency. However, it looks really great on your CV, and if you want to work as a teacher (even as a German teacher), it will help you.

What about the tests?


The exam called “TestDaf” is one of the most important language certificates. Usually, it is valid for your registration at a German university. The TestDaf exam takes up to 3 hours and has all parts included, such as listening comprehension, text comprehension, grammar and writing. There exist special preparation courses for the TestDaF. Many different language schools offer these courses.


The German language certification via the TELC system, the TELC test consists of two parts, a written and an oral one. The written part is about reading comprehension, grammar and free writing. In the oral part, you will have to develop a conversation in front of the examiners. TELC C1 lasts around 3 hours and 35 minutes for the written part, and 20 minutes for the oral part. Special preparation material, you can find here …

The exam “Telc Deutsch B2+ Beruf” lasts 2 hours and 20 minutes for the written part, and 15 more minutes in the oral part. Here, you can find special material for your preparation: here

The Telc B1 exam is called “telc Deutsch B1 + Beruf”, and lasts around 2 hours and 20 minutes in the written part, and 15 minutes in the oral part. Studying material: here

The certificates from Goethe-Institut.

The renowned “Goethe Institut” also offers official language certificates. From basic knowledge skill certificates A1 and A2, up to the most important and difficult certificate “Das Goethe-Zertifikat C2: Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom (GDS)”, you can make all your exams there. These exams are divided into four sections. In the C2 exam, the reading part lasts around 80 minutes, where the participant has to read complex texts and resolve related questions about these texts. The writing part also lasts about 80 minutes. The participant will have to write a short essay or something alike. The listening part of this exam lasts 35 minutes, and you will have to listen and understand original radio programs, or something in style. Talking will last about 15 minutes, and yu will have to discuss complex actual topics with the examiner. Studying material: here

Do you have experiences with any of these certificates? Would you like to share your experiences with us?