Guide to Language Exams: SIELE

We are continuing our series blog entries focusing on the most known language proficiency exams. Since so far we have been looking at English language tests, this time, we’ll look into one of the newest Spanish proficiency exams – SIELE. If you’re looking for a widely recognised and international language qualification, SIELE is one of your best options.

In this guide, we’ll tell you exactly what SIELE is, how and where you can take it and what to do to prepare for the exam and achieve the best result.

SIELE – What is it?

SIELE is an acronym that stands for Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española. It is a new type of Spanish proficiency exam created and offered by the Cervantes Institute. It is targeted to people who learn Spanish as a foreign language but can also be used to determine the level of a native speaker. As such, there are also different forms of the exam available – you can take the comprehensive evaluation, or only focus on writing and reading, or speaking and listening.

Since SIELE exams have only been administered from 2016, it is still a work in progress but it does look to be on the way to becoming the new go-to language proficiency test for Spanish. There are already over 35 partner institutions and you’re free to take the exam in more than 20 countries in the Spanish-speaking world.

There is no pass or fail with the SIELE test – rather, it gives you an objective assessment of your Spanish skills.
They use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages as the basis of their evaluation, meaning you’ll end up receiving a language proficiency assessment based on the A1-C1 levels.

How to take SIELE?

Currently, it’s possible to take the SIELE evaluation in different exams centres in 20 countries. The registration process has been made as simple as possible for test takers. As more exam centres are accredited and become available, the list is updated on the SIELE official page.

To take the exam, you need to register at the official SIELE site, choose the type of exam and where you want to take it, go to the exam centre to write your evaluation and in 3 weeks you will be able to access your diploma on the same site. While the DELE language exam gives you a lifelong language certificate, the SIELE is only valid for 2 years, making it a lot more similar to the most well-known English proficiency tests in that aspect.

The cost of the exam depends on the exact type you’re looking to take and the country where the exam is administered. The most comprehensive and expensive type is the SIELE Global that measures your proficiency in all the four linguistic categories – writing, reading, listening, and speaking.

What does the SIELE exam look like?

Since SIELE can be used to measure the language skills in any of four categories, or their combinations, the exam will vary depending on your decision. You can choose to take only the speaking evaluation, or combine listening and speaking, reading and writing, or reading and listening parts. The SIELE Global includes all of these four parts.

The SIELE Global uses a 1000 point scoring system, with all the four parts accounting to a maximum of 250 points. The duration of this exam is 3 hours.

The reading comprehension is the longest part of the exam, with 60 minutes of allocated time for five tasks and a total of 38 questions. Next follows the listening part with 55 minutes for 6 tasks including 38 questions. The writing evaluation will present 2 tasks which need to be completed in 50 minutes, followed by 15 minutes to finish the 5-part speaking exam.

The exam uses several native forms of Spanish , so you might be encountered with the mainland Spain or South American accents.

How to prepare for SIELE?

Since the exam is still very new, there are not a lot of resources to prepare solely for taking the SIELE examination. But since the objective of the test is to objectively evaluate your Spanish level, the best way to prepare would be to let your private teacher know you’re planning on taking the test and they can guide you the best results.

You can, however, find some practical advice on the SIELE exam from this guide on the official site and also take a practice exam.