The DELE exam (Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera) is a diploma of Spanish as a foreign language and is a globally recognized certificate of Spanish proficiency. As well as taking the test in Spain, students can participate in the exam from over 100 countries. Every year thousands of exams are taken by candidates in hundreds of exam centres. The DELE exam is open to anyone who wants to test their level of Spanish.

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What is the structure of the DELE test?

The exams are separated into six levels which correspond to the widely recognised CEFR levels.  Depending on the level, DELE exams last between two and four and half hours including breaks.

Each exam has a section for reading comprehension, listening comprehension and writing, as well as an oral expression section. Candidates are assigned a specific time for their oral exam that includes time to prepare what they are going to say after being assigned a topic.

Levels A1 and A2 assess competency in the basics of Spanish and show an ability to communicate on general topics. Families, work, shopping and a few other common topics are part of these levels.

Levels B1 and B2 are a bit more challenging. They deal with understanding texts and navigating situations that might occur when traveling and test your writing skills on simple subjects. They also test the ability to express thoughts and opinions.

Levels C1 and C2 are the most difficult exams and certify that those who pass have a high level of competence in the language. They test your ability to understand intricate texts, whether your communication is fluent and your ability to write on complex subject matters.

The tests show proficiency in all facets of language learning—reading, writing, speaking and listening. The higher the level, the more challenging those exam questions will be.

The DELE exam tests are divided into different groups, depending on the level. Each test includes various tasks, and tests the following abilities:

  • Reading comprehension
  • Written expression and interaction
  • Listening comprehension
  • Oral expression and interaction

For the higher levels of C1 and C2 the format is a little different and the timings significantly longer.  There is a use of language component added to the listening and reading sections. There is also more of an emphasis on interaction and comprehension.

Here is the structure of the DELE and the sections that constitute it.

An example test structure for the B1 version of the DELE test would be:

Group 1

  • Reading comprehension (70 mins)
  • Listening comprehension (40 mins)

Group 2

  • Written interaction and expression (60 mins)
  • Oral interaction and expression (15 mins)
  • There is also 15 minutes preparation time for the speaking test.
  • The total time for the B1 version of the exam would be just over 3.5 hours.
  • During the B1 exam candidates need to understand the main points of written Spanish texts related to well-known topics. They need to be able to describe experiences, events, dreams and ambitions. They need to explain plans and be able to defend opinions on at least a basic level.

An example of a question on the DELE listening test might be similar to the following:

Lurdes explica a su madre lo que hace este fin de semana.

Complete el texto con la información que falta. Escuchará la audición tres veces.

The question might be to complete this sentence after listening to the information in the audio: 

El ____________ su madre va a arreglar el jardín

Answer the question and move onto the next one as you have limited time.

What is the aim of the DELE test?

Taking the DELE exam is a requirement for some university courses but there are other reasons to take the test. The DELE exam is suitable for people who have been studying Spanish for some time and want to have a certificate to prove their skills. It would also suit students who are planning a gap year in a Hispanic country and want to assess whether they would be able to communicate sufficiently.  A DELE qualification can also be a good addition to your CV if you want to work in a Spanish speaking country. DELE is highly regarded by employers and universities alike.

Does it take a long time to get the results?

DELE test results are communicated by The Instituto Cervantes to examinees approximately three months after the exam date.  Diplomas are mailed out to the address provided at the time of application for all those who received a pass grade.

How can I do well in the DELE test?

Get plenty of sleep before the test so that you are alert and ready.  In the months before the test spend at least part of everyday listening to and reading things in Spanish. You can even do both at the same time by listening to audio books and following along by reading the text. Make a note of new vocabulary and phrases.  You can also try some online Spanish language reading and listening exercises too.

During the test itself don’t worry if there are some words you don’t understand – try to listen to and read the key words that help you understand the general meaning of the sentence and use this to provide your best answer as quickly as possible. Make sure you practise under timed conditions before the day of the test so you are used to the pressure!

A general Spanish course covering grammar, vocabulary, listening and reading skills would also be useful.  If you are able to have tailored 1 to 1 classes with a personal tutor, this would have obvious benefits as you will be able to get useful feedback and advice.

In what ways can GlobalExam help me prepare for the DELE test?

GlobalExam can help you prepare for the DELE Test by offering free materials so you can see how useful the materials are and see the quality of the content. There are sample exercises, and vocabulary and grammar study materials. Once you have tried out the free sample materials you will be ready to sign up for one of our premium plans to get access to more practice exercises that are really similar to the actual test. You will have the chance to do full mock exams under timed conditions – just like in the real DELE exam. This will help you choose which level of the DELE exam you should take.

GlobalExam and their team of experts regularly update content to deliver effective training and plenty of new practice opportunities. On the GlobalExam site you will be able to do reading and listening exercises for the DELE exam and get immediate feedback. You will be able to review your results in the statistics section to check your progress.  Once you know your weak areas you can improve on them with the help of some vocabulary and grammar study sheets.  

Don’t waste any more time, start improving your chances of a higher score and sign up for the free trial version so that you’ll have more time to prepare for the DELE exam!

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