German Language Tests in Switzerland- TestDaf and DSH


The test TestDaF ‘Deutsch als Fremdsprache’ meaning “German as a foreign language”, is an globally recognised standardised language examination that assesses the German language proficiency. TestDaF is administered by TestDaF Institute and is 3 hours 10 minutes test. The TestDaF certificate is valid for an unlimited time period. The TestDaF is held six times a year at various centers around the globe.


TestDaF comprises of 4 sections: reading comprehension, listening, Writing and Speaking. The reading comprehension, listening comprehension and written expression parts of the exam is tested in a classroom context, while the oral examination is tested by speaking to a computer.


This section includes three reading texts. Applicants need to read, understand the text and answer the questions accordingly.
  • No. of question: 3 text with a total 30 items
  • Time limit: 60 minutes


This section consists of three audio-texts that require the applicants to understand the overall structure as well as detailed and implicit information in the audio-text.
  • No. of questions: 3 reading text with a total 25 items
  • Time limit: 40 minutes


This section consists of one writing task, aimed to test the writing ability of the applicants in areas of: style, structure, correctness, clarity and consistency. In the first part of the text you need to describe a graphical image and in the second part you need to put forward your opinion.
  • No. of question: 1 task
  • Time limit: 60 minutes

Oral Expression

This section consists of 7 tasks of variable difficulty levels. The applicants in this part require responding in various situations at university, like discussions with fellow students, raising opinion on a particular subject matter, or forming hypotheses.
  • No. of questions: 7 tasks to speak
  • Time limit: 30 minutes


Register online at TestDaF . Fill out the application form correctly and pay the fee by Visa card or debit entry or directly to the TestDaF Institute. A receipt of the payment made along with a confirmation mail will be received after the successful registration of the tests.


The TestDaF varies from year to year. Check the official website for the fee and payment details.

Scoring and Results

Each section is graded separately as per the following three grading levels- Grading Level 3 (TDN 3), Grading Level 4 (TDN 4) and Grading Level 5 (TDN 5). If the result is below TDN 3, the test is to be considered failed and all examination sections will have to be repeated. TestDaF-Level 4 indicates that there is a possibility to take part in degree program at Switzerland Institutions. A score of TDN 5 indicates that you have a very good knowledge of German. Within six weeks the applicant would receive a certificate issued by the Test Centre. The certificate shows the grades of all sections of the tests along with the detailed description of the reached level.


DSH "Deutsche Sprachprufung fur den Hochschulzugang auslandischer Studienbewerber" is a German language university entrance examination for foreign students. The DSH consist of written and oral examinations and takes place twice a year, in March and October.

DSH Competency Levels

There are three competency levels of DSH exam- Elementary level which includes A1 and A2, Intermediate level which includes B1 and B2 DSH1 and Advanced Language levels which include C1 DSH2 and C2 DSH3

The DSH 3 Competency level is needed in Switzerland. It consists of three sections: Comprehension which includes listening and reading, Speaking and Writing sections.

  • Comprehension Section: This section includes Listening and Reading comprehensions and assesses the general knowledge of the applicants. It also includes scientific topics which evaluates the applicant’s ability to express themselves in written and oral form.

  • Speaking: This section includes various topics on which the applicant needs to be spontaneous, fluent, and descriptive and present their viewpoint.

  • Writing: This section involves writing on a specific text, issue essay or a letter. It assesses the applicant’s written communication skills. Hence, the applicant should have clarity of expression and should be capable to express their point of viewpoints.


The DSH exam has two parts- Written and Oral

The Written DSH Exam
The Written DSH exam accounts for 70% of the whole DSH exam. The dictionary is given for references and to check up unfamiliar words.
Time limit: 3 - 4 hours

Listening Comprehension
This part accounts for 20 % of the DSH exam. In this part, the applicant is required to listen to the lecture, seminar or presentation and summarize the most important points into notes. A summary of the textual matter is important in solving the questions. Applicant’s answers are evaluated based on their completeness and correctness. This part is about 60 minutes

Comprehension and Working on a Text
This part consists of scientific text of 30-60 lines with a graph and the applicant need to answer the questions based on the text. You need to be grammatically correct while answering questions. This part accounts for 20% of the DSH exam and is about 60 minutes.

Comprehension and Working on a Scientific Structure
This part accounts for 10% of the DSH exam and focuses on the German language. It includes a reading text, i.e. grammatical structures; transformations etc and assess the applicant’s ability to reform the structure with the appropriate use of grammar. Grammatical correctness is important in the evaluation. This part is of 30 minutes.

Text Production
This is the written part of the exam and accounts for 20 % of the DSH exam. A specific topic is given and applicant needs to write a text on that of about 200-250 words, answering each questions in a detailed form. The most significant point to keep in mind for this part is Content, Clarity and Correctness. This part is of 60 minutes.

The Oral DSH exam

The Oral DSH exam accounts for 30% of the DSH exam. It consists of a short text, graph, or voice recording from the academic field. Applicants are evaluated based on their general conversation and discussion skills in a university context and the ability to present facts correctly and distinctly. This duration of this section is 20 minutes.

Registration for DSH is done at the respective Universities -either online or in person.  Fill in all your details in the application form and submit. Pay the fees as per the University norm. Consequently, you’ll receive a confirmation email. The deposit receipt must be presented upon entrance into the examination room.

The DSH examination fee varies from year to year. Check the official website for details.

Scoring and Results

The results are marked as “Passed” or “Not Passed”. It is mandatory to pass the written in order to appear for the oral exam. The performance in the various sections -written and oral is measured in percentages. The total score is represented as DSH-1: 57 % or higher indicating "elementary" language proficiency, DSH-2: 67 % or higher indicating "sophisticated" language proficiency and DSH-3: 82 % or higher indicating "extraordinary" language proficiency. If less than 57% then it is marked as “failed". The whole examination is counted as passed, if both the written and the oral examination are passed. Upon passing the oral exam a temporary certificate is issued. An official DSH certificate- DSH II/III is issued via post six weeks after the examination date.
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