Guide to Language Exams: DELE

If the SIELE exam is the new rising star in the world of Spanish proficiency tests, DELE is the old and trusted workhorse. It is probably the best-known exam to determine your language level and if you’re thinking of going to Spanish-speaking university or applying for a job, you will most likely be required a DELE certificate.

To give you a better understanding of what the DELE exam entails and how to achieve the best results, we’ve put together this short explanation guide to the exam.

DELE – What is it?

DELE stands for Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera, or Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language. These diplomas are officially issued by the Spanish Ministry of Education, making them accredited at the highest level and one of the most widely recognised certificates of Spanish proficiency.

Each year, there are around 66,000 DELE tests taken – they are offered in more than 900 examination centres in over 100 countries. The test taking is organised and supervised by the Cervantes Institute – a worldwide NGO created by the Spanish government to promote their language and culture, while the exams are designed and evaluated by the University of Salamanca.

How to take the DELE exam?

Unlike with SIELE, that uses one test to simply determine your level of Spanish, with DELE you need to register for the appropriate level for which you want the diploma. The marking system used matches the European Common Framework of Languages (levels being determined from A1 – breakthrough to C2 –mastery). So, if you’re looking to prove that you know Spanish at a professional level, you would need to sit and pass the C1 level DELE exam.

In 2016, there are five separate examination sessions scheduled. You can find the updated info on exam dates on the Cervantes Institute home page. To register, you should find the nearest accredited testing centre near you and contact them directly – the Cervantes Institute does provide contact details.

Before you can sit the test, you will need to pay the examination fee that depends on your level and the country where you register for the test. You should contact the examination centre directly to find out the exact price.

What does the DELE exam look like?

The DELE exams are offered in six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. In addition, separate exams are offered to young learners – students of Spanish from 11-17 years old – in levels A1 and A2/B1.

The exact format of the exam depends on the level you’re aiming for. For example, the tasks in the A2 level exam are organised into two groups: reading and writing skills, followed by the speaking part. To pass the C2 level exam, you would need to complete three tests, including parts designed to test you language skills in an integrated manner (combining reading comprehension with oral expression and interaction, for example).

The maximum score for each exam level in 100 points and you are either granted a pass or fail grade based on your performance. The exact requirements for passing the exam also differ according to level. To pass the A2 level exam, you need to achieve at least 30 points in either of the groups, while the C2 level requires you to get at least 60% right in each of the three tests.

How to prepare for DELE?

Since DELE is one of the most widely recognised Spanish proficiency tests, our private Spanish teachers are surely able to give you some excellent advice and resources on how to achieve the best results. Just let your teacher know you’re getting ready to take the DELE exam and you can practice the necessary skills to pass the test.

The Cervantes Institute also offers some free resources on their website, including sample exam papers and audio materials. This site can also help you better prepare for your DELE exam.