As Germany becomes a popular study destination among international students looking out for cheaper education options, the importance of exams required to study in Germany also gains value. In order to study in Germany, you will need to meet language proficiency standards for not only the German student visa but also the specific university or program.
International applicants who wish to study in Germany will not only have to present their language proficiency skills in English but also in German, as many courses in the country are taught in the native language.
Language Proficiency Tests to Study in Germany
Most universities in Germany have programs with German as the medium of instruction, so you will have to take one of the recognized proficiency tests to be eligible to study at a German university.
You do not need to take German language tests to study in Germany if:
- You already have an Abitur from a German-language secondary school.
- You are participating in international degree programs and special postgraduate programs.
- You are applying to a university program that does not ask for German proficiency.
- You are only doing a short-term exchange or study abroad program while you are enrolled at an institution outside Germany.
In case you are enrolling into an English-taught program, you will need to take an English language proficiency exam like IELTS or TOEFL. Some universities also accept CAE/CPE, but not any other English proficiency test.
You do NOT need to take English language tests to study in Germany if:
- You are a citizen of a majority English-speaking country.
- You hold a Bachelor’s degree in a course that had English as the medium of instruction.
- You have a letter/certificate from your previous institution confirming that you are proficient in English (only in certain cases).
- You are joining a program like English Philology that does not require you to qualify an English language test.
Similar to the exemption from German tests, you will also be exempted from English tests if you are only doing a short-term study abroad program in Germany while you are enrolled in a course elsewhere.
German Language Tests to Study in Germany
Test of German as a Foreign Language or TestDaF
The most popular German language proficiency test is TestDaF, as it is accepted by all institutions in the country. Conducted by the TestDaF-Institut, it is very accessible, having test centres in nearly 100 countries all over the world. Candidates can choose to do either a paper-based or a digital test, on any of the six dates listed each year. It costs INR 9,015, INR 13,071 or INR 17,579, depending on the test centre.
It has three levels - TDN 3,4, and 5 - which correspond to the B2-C1 range as per CEFR standards. TDN 4 in all components is good enough to be eligible to most institutions, but it is fine if you get a TDN 3 and a TDN 5, as they will balance out. Some programs even accept an overall TDN 3. The test scores do not expire.
Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang/DSH (German Language Examination for University Entrance
DSH is the second-most popular qualifying test, but it can only be taken in Germany and not in your home country. The exam has written as well as oral components. The test is to be given at the university you are applying for, and hence the examination date and fees will vary from centre to centre. It is available in levels DSH 1, 2 and 3, which correspond to B2, C1 and C2 respectively, by CEFR standards.
Goethe Institute German Language Diploma (GDS)
GDS certificates are awarded by the Goethe-Institut to people who have achieved various levels of proficiency in German. It is necessary that you have the Goethe-Zertifikat C2 to be accepted at the university you are applying to, even though lower level certificates exist, because it is a general exam and not specific to students, so the highest level of proficiency will only be considered. There are test centres in 98 countries all over the world, where exam dates are available 0-4 times a year, depending on the location. The exam fees also vary between INR 9,015 and 26,593. The certificate has lifelong validity.
Telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule
This exam is another proficiency certification, but it is mostly available only in European countries, so it is generally not preferred by international citizens. However, in India there is one centre in Bangalore, where you can take this test for 13,522-18,029 INR.
Deutsches Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz (DSD)
The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs awards German language diplomas at two levels - DSD I and DSD II, which are meant for entry to college-level courses at the age of 15-17 and for entry to university-level courses at the age of 17-21 respectively. The exam can be written after completion of a long-term German language course in school or at a recognized institution.
English Language Tests to Study in Germany
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
IELTS is the most recognized English language proficiency test in the world, and Germany is no different. It costs INR 14,000 to take the whole exam, with four papers in Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.
German institutions generally ask for an overall score of 6.5 on 9, but do keep in mind that the IELTS score expires in 2 years, so you will have to get a good score and get accepted into the preferred university without much delay.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
TOEFL is also accepted by nearly all German universities for admission to English-taught programs. The TOEFL iBT can be taken for INR 13,617 and will also expire after 2 years. Accepted TOEFL scores are in the range of 60-80.
Although most students may not prefer IELTS over TOEFL, universities may do so, and hence students are advised to check exactly which one is required.
Subject Aptitude Tests to Study In Germany
Undergraduate students are required to be at par with the German equivalent of a Hochschulzugangsberechtigung (HZB), which is a university entrance test. In case your school-leaving certificate does not match this standard, you may have to take a preparatory course before commencing university-level education. Postgraduate students normally do not have this issue, and can apply to top colleges in Germany with the transcripts of their Bachelors’ degree and, in some cases, results of certain aptitude tests.
Tests to Study Undergraduate Courses in Germany
After completing the one-year course at the Studienkolleg or preparatory college, students will have to give the FSP to determine their eligibility to a university program. It is a subject-specific aptitude test, and out of the four subjects, three will have written tests and one will have an oral test. It is considered to be fairly easy, but if you do not qualify, you have the option to retake the test. In some cases, you can even sit for FSP directly without doing the preparatory course.
Test für Ausländische Studierende (Test for Foreign Students or TestAS)
It is a standardized test done by international students to enroll in undergraduate programs in German universities. It consists of an OnScreen Language Test, a Core Test, and Subject-Specific Test Modules which can be in:
- Humanities, Cultural Studies, and Social Studies
- Mathematics, Computer Science, and Natural Sciences
However, the exam does not test you on subject knowledge, but on cognitive abilities. It is not mandatory, but some universities take the scores into consideration when admitting students. The scores do not expire.
Tests to Study Postgraduate Courses in Germany
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
The GRE General Test is normally only used for business or management programs while GRE Subject Tests are used for Science, Mathematics, and Literature courses. It costs INR 15,678, and a score of around 300 is good enough.
Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)
Though GMAT scores are one of the best ways to present your aptitude when applying with international universities, there are many business schools in Germany that do not ask for a GMAT score. Universities not having GMAT scores as an eligibility criteria to study MBA in Germany are:
- Technical University of Munich
- Berlin School of Economics and Law
- Accadis Hochschule Bad Homburg
- Cologne Business School
German institutions mostly do not require you to write many subject tests to gain eligibility, and in most cases you can directly apply to German universities with transcripts of the previous course. Language proficiency, on the other hand, is a necessity, whether it be in English or in German. On the plus side, giving focus to learning a foreign language like German would certainly add more skills to your resume, and overall improve the quality of your university education.