6 Official Spanish proficiency tests and diplomas for you

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There are several reasons why you might want to prove your Spanish skills or proficiency level with an official Spanish Diploma. Entering a Spanish or Latin American university, getting a job in a Spanish-speaking city and advancing in your career, to name a few.

These official Spanish tests can prove how well you can communicate in the language in any given situation and generally measure your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

Why register for a Spanish diploma?


If you're serious about learning Spanish, registering for an official Spanish exam is one of the most effective ways of guaranteeing your success. It gives you a goal to aim towards so that your studies have more direction and focus, and you progress quicker.

Remember that learning without an objective is like getting into a boat without a rudder or destination in mind. Who knows where you could end up or when you’ll get there?

Regardless of the exam you're planning to take, Progress with Lawless Spanish is designed to help you prepare for any Spanish exam. What’s more, you'll get even more out of Progress with Lawless Spanish, if you do register for an exam.

Before choosing your Spanish exam

There’s no point setting out on a journey if you don’t know where you’re heading. But it’s also just as important to know where you’re starting out from.

In the same way, you need to know what level you’re at when you begin studying a language if you want to make any sort of meaningful progress. This is why it’s important to take a proficiency test before you start.

In Europe, official tests are based on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), which defines six levels of proficiency: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 or C2.

These placement tests measure your skills and give you an objective view of how good your knowledge is.

What is the CEFR and why are some exams based on it?

The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) was created after more than twenty years of research as a standard way of describing language proficiency so people across Europe would have a common way of indicating someone's language level. It has become the standard throughout Europe and is beginning to be used globally.

Some of the exams we’ll be covering are based on this framework because schools and businesses understand it and it’s applicable to any European language. CEFR makes it possible to compare language skills, tests and exams across languages and national boundaries.

As mentioned above, CEFR describes six levels of language proficiency, divided into three broad divisions:

A: Basic User A1 - Beginner
A2 - Elementary
B: Independent User B1 - Intermediate
B2 - Upper-Intermediate
C: Proficient User C1 - Advanced
C2 - Proficiency

If you want to find out what your CEFR Spanish level is, you can take our Progress with Lawless Spanish placement test and choose between European or Latin American Spanish. Our quick, comprehensive test lets you know your Spanish level based on the CEFR standard and lets Kwizbot, your A.I. coach, identify what you know and what you need to learn and creates your personalised Studyplan.

This means you can focus on what you need to work on at this point in time. You’re not presented with material that puts you out of your depth, and nor do you have to keep going over the basics if you’ve mastered them already.

Instead, you can challenge yourself with fresh material and work towards speaking fluent Spanish.

6 Official Spanish exams to choose from

Now that you know how a Spanish exam can help you, there are several different official Spanish tests and diplomas to choose from:

These are recognised globally but all serve different purposes, so it’s important to choose the right one for your circumstances. The right Spanish official test for you may also depend on your level, what country you are in and why you need the qualification.

The advantage of these tests over school exams is that, as well as being recognised globally (more importantly, recognised in Spain and Latin America), they reflect the breadth and depth of your Spanish proficiency in practical day-to-day usage, much more effectively.

DELE (Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera)

The Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE) are the official diplomas for Spanish as a foreign language administered by the Instituto Cervantes on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. The tests are created, evaluated and corrected by the Universidad de Salamanca.

If you want an official certificate to demonstrate your proficiency as a Spanish speaker, DELE is the most widely recognised Spanish exam.

Learn more about how to pass the DELE exam here.

SIELE (Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española)

The Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española (SIELE) is an official Spanish language test awarded and created by the Instituto Cervantes, made in collaboration with the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the University of Salamanca (USAL) and the Buenos Aires University (UBA). The SIELE exam is a single test that grades your Spanish proficiency from A1 to C1 (there is no C2 accreditation) according to the CEFR standard.

If you need to demonstrate that your Spanish is adequate for a job, to move to a Spanish-speaking country or to enter a university, this official Spanish exam is usually right for this purpose.

Learn more about how to pass the SIELE exam here.

CELU (Certificado de Español Lengua y Uso)

The Certificado de Español Lengua y Uso (CELU) examination is officially recognised by the Argentinian Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is recognised by institutions in Latin America, Brazil, Italy and China. CELU examination centres are present in South America, Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Asia.

If you want to prove your ability to use Spanish as a second language in a working environment or an academic context, CELU is a good official exam to do that.

Learn more about how to pass the CELU exam here.

AP Spanish (Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture)

The Advanced Placement Spanish Language and Culture, also known as AP Spanish, is a course that lets US high school students earn credit for a college-level Spanish class. It culminates in the AP Spanish Exam, which is generally considered equivalent to a college-level Spanish 301 final exam.

Learn more about how to pass the AP Spanish exam here.

Spanish GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education)

The Spanish GCSE exam is taken in Britain by students usually aged 16. There are different exam boards but each syllabus covers the four disciplines of listening, reading, writing and speaking. You need to show proficiency in each area to do well. You can choose to do either the Foundation Tier (grades 1–5) or the Higher Tier (grades 4–9). The exam will cover three themes in all four question papers:

  • Identity and culture
  • Local, national, international and global areas of interest
  • Current and future study and employment
Learn more about how to pass the Spanish GCSE exam here.

IB Spanish (International Baccalaureate)

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) programmes are designed to help students develop their critical thinking skills, nurture their curiosity and develop their ability to solve complex problems. The Diploma programme is aimed at students from 16-19 and the Language B course, as it is known, is designed for students who have some previous experience in Spanish.

You’ll need to show how well you can understand spoken and written Spanish, produce the language in your own writing, react in conversation as well as demonstrate an understanding of Spanish culture.

Learn more about how to pass the IB Spanish exam here.

Getting ready for your test

Taking an exam may seem daunting but the best way to prepare for any test is to practise as much as you can.

Familiarise yourself with the structure of the exam and practise across the four skill sets, listening, reading, writing and speaking (not just what you find easiest)! 

Progress with Lawless Spanish is a great tool to get ready for any type of exam because it helps you to efficiently identify and close gaps in your knowledge. When you know exactly what you need to strengthen to be ready for your exam, you can look through our in-depth lessons, take our quick, challenging kwizzes and complement your practice sessions with our exercises.

Downloading past papers is also a great way to build your confidence!

We’ve gathered some resources to show you how to practise effectively:

Clever stuff happening!