DSH and TestDaF: language examinations for studying at German universities

Do you want to study at a German university? Would you like to know which certificate you might require? Foreign students have to certifiy a good level of German if they want to be admitted into a German university, so inform yourself well before travelling! For your knowledge, there are two main language certificates you might need to if your objective is to attend a German university: TestDaF or test DSH.

It really depends on the university which one of both examinations you will have to complete. Therefore, we recommend you to call them and ask directly before enrolling yourself in any preparatory course. Most German universities have an international deparment, you can find all the information on the university’s website. If you took the examination of the Goethe Institut (C2 GDS), there is no need to take any of the other examinations (TestDaF and DSH), since the Goethe-Zertifikat also certifies you to study at a German institution. The same case applies if you studied at a German school abroad and passed the German Abitur (like other German students here), you will not need to pass any extra examination if this is your case.


The full name of the certification is Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studenten (DSH). The level is quite advanced, so if you have not studied at a German school, it is better to attend a special DSH course. The preparatory course will also give you an insight into some “tricks” to get more points in the examination. This will assure your pass! This examination proves that your level of German is advanced enough to complete all the courses in university.

The official site is www.dsh-germany.com


The full name is Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache (TestDaF) and, like the DSH, it is an advanced and international language certification for the academic context. This examination can be taken in 96 countries (please find a list of test centers worldwide here), not only in Germany. It normally requires at least 700 hours of German class (but you do not have to prove it) although we recommend to attend at least 1.000 hours. To be admited into a university programme, you will have to pass the TestDaF-Niveaustufe 4 (*) and you can enroll in this examination in your country of origin (or in one of the official centers). The Common European Framework of Languages of Europe informs that TestDaF meets the competency levels of B2 to C1.

The TestDaF Institute verifies the quality standars, therefore all students receive the same tasks. You can find more information on the TestDaF website.
What is the structure of the TestDaF examination?
  • Reading 3 texts with 30 items (60 minutes)
  • Listening to 3 stories and respond 25 items (40 minutes)
  • Break
  • Composition of a text (60 minutes)
  • 7 tasks to speak (30 minutes)

More information and tips here.

 (*) TDN 4: He/She can understand the overall meaning and specific details of written texts relevant to common study-related situations and on general academic topics which are mainly written in non-specialised language (Source: TestDaF Institute)


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