For all of you who are considering taking the DELE, check out our frequently asked questions here to help clear up any uncertainties you may have.
What is the DELE?
The DELE is the standard Spanish exam that tests for Spanish proficiency. It is internationally recognised and is the most famous Spanish proficiency test available.
What does it stand for?
Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera, which in English means Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language
How is it graded?
It is graded using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, otherwise known as the CEFR which uses a system based A1 through to C2, with A1 being beginner level and C2 being the most advanced.
- A1 – Beginner
- A2 – Upper beginner
- B1 – Intermediate
- B2 – Upper intermediate
- C1 – Advanced
- C2 – Near native
This framework is used and recognised all the way across Europe with all of the European languages.
Which level should I take?
The level you should take really depends on the level you’re currently at.
- If you’re studying for yourself and your own progress then they are online tests to check your level like this one, which you can do and sign up for the appropriate course.
- If you want to study in a Spanish University then you need to have B2 proficiency
- If you want to work in Spain (in a job that isn’t teaching), then you need C1 proficiency
What does it test you on?
The DELE tests you on the four major skills that are common in foreign language exams:
How long does it last?
Each level lasts a bit longer than the last as they get difficult and there’s more topics to cover, but you can expect the exam to last somewhere between two to four hours.
The sections of the exams may also be split up so you do your reading and listening one day, then your speaking and writing the following day.
Why should I take the DELE?
- To be able to work in a Spanish speaking country
- As a personal goal
- To have something to work towards
- To be able to study in a Spanish speaking country
- As a way to learn all the vocabulary and grammar from each level
If you’re still not convinced, or you’d like to know more about why you should take the DELE, then read our article here about reasons why you should consider taking the DELE exam.
Can I take the DELE in my own country or do I have to go to Spain?
Don’t worry, you don’t have to go to a Spanish speaking country to take the DELE. You will be able to do it from your own country. Each country has various providers of the DELE exam so you should even be able to do it from your own city, or if not then a city nearby.
Of course, if you did want to go abroad to Spain to take the DELE, then that is a possibility as well. As the majority of Spanish cities have examination bodies.
If you’re attending a Spanish school in Spain then they should be able to tell you where and how you can sign up for the exam.
How much does the DELE cost?
The cost of the DELE varies from country to country and even between providers. It will also change year to year, but you should be expecting to pay somewhere between 100 – 200 euros per exam.
Do I need to pass one level before progressing to the next?
No, you don’t have to take any of the exams before taking a more difficult one. If you wanted your first exam to be C2 and you hadn’t taken any of the other exams then thats fine. It just might be a bit difficult for you if you’re not used to the testing conditions.
Are there other Spanish language exams?
Yes, there are other Spanish proficiency exams, some of which are even becoming more popular than the DELE for some people.
There is also the SIELE (Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española), which is an online Spanish qualification, which also tests using the CEFR framework.
There is another test called the EsPro which gives you your results within two business days. The EsPro qualification is valid for a lifetime, which is good for the learner as you don’t need to retake the test but not that useful for an employer, because if you achieved a C1 level ten years ago and you haven’t used your Spanish since then, you’re not still going to be at C1 now.
There is also the CLEP, which will give you college credits in the USA as well as a CEFR level of Spanish. So if you’re studying in the USA, this might be for you.
Finally, take a look at the LTI – ACTFL, which is another online test that you are able to take anywhere at anytime. They also test 119 other languages in addition to Spanish.
How can I prepare for the DELE?
You ideally want to start preparing for your exam months in advance.
- Make sure you do past exam papers under timed conditions so you know what to expect on the day
- Consider taking classes at a Spanish institution that are designed to take you through the material for each exam
- Or see if you can find a tutor who has taught people DELE material before
- Talk as much as you can and not just about the material in the exam. The more comfortable you are speaking in Spanish, the more comfortable you’ll be on the day. This is much more effective than just practising what you think will come up, BUT…..
- Of course, make sure you practise talking about the themes and topics that are going to come up in the exam
- Read graded readers at the level of the DELE you’re taking so reading at that level becomes easier and quicker for you
I would definitely recommend buying a textbook to help you work through the grammar required for your exam and a textbook for past exam papers as well.
Check out our recommended textbooks to help prepare you for the DELE.
What do I do on the day of the exam?
On the day of the exam you want to remain calm and focused. Ideally you will have done past papers under timed conditions so you know what to expect.
- Get up relatively early to give yourself plenty of time before the exam.
- Make sure you eat a breakfast (if it’s in the morning), or your lunch (if it’s in the afternoon) before your exam. An exam is not the time to be hungry or to be on a diet. If you have food on your stomach you’ll find it easier to concentrate.
- Whether you revise on the day of the exam is really up to you. There are many people who only relax on the morning of an exam and do fine, then there are others who thrive under pressure and will cram up until they go into the hall. You want to have done most of your studying before the day, don’t be learning anything NEW on the day. But if you want to review your notes or practise in the morning that’s up to you.
- Make sure you get to the exam hall early. You don’t want to be rushed on the day of the DELE, or it will add to your stress.
- Be sure to turn off your phone before the examination starts.
- Take water with you to stay hydrated throughout the exam.
- And finally try to stay calm, yes the exam is important, but you also have the option to take it again.
Final thoughts about the DELE
We hope this has answered some of the questions you have about the DELE exam. If you have any other questions then please ask if in the comments below and we will do our best to answer you as quickly as possible.
If you’re thinking about taking the DELE exam, then I would recommend you read about Leah’s experience here. She was lucky enough to live in Spain for five months and took her A2 exam. It might help you deciding whether the DELE is for you, to read her experiences and see what she gained from this qualification and her time in Spain.