• Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions on the examinations of the Goethe Institut

We will inform you here about frequently asked questions on the examinations of the Goethe-Institut.

If you have additional questions concerning the Goethe certificates A1 through C2, please arrange an informational, free-of-charge personal consultation at one of our testing locations (Goethe-Instituts, Goethe Centers or Goethe Examinations partners).

Please refer to the exam guidelines valid for all levels and to the terms and conditions for the exam administration as well as practice- and info materials for each individual level.

1. Who can take the exams of the Goethe-Institut?

The exams of the Goethe-Institut are available to anyone interested, regardless of the exam candidate’s citizenship. They are designed to demonstrate knowledge in German as a second language and/or as a foreign language.
We do recommend a minimum age for taking the exams.
Download Symbolterms and conditions for the exam administration (PDF, 633 KB)

2. Exam participants with special needs

Can exam participants with special needs also take an exam?

The testing locations make every effort to accommodate participants with special needs (such as chronic illnesses, visual or hearing impairment). Level and type of chronic illness/ disability must be disclosed upon registering for the exam and be confirmed by a doctor’s attestation. The testing location is obligated to maintain strict confidentiality.

More detailed information can be obtained directly at the testing location at which you wish to take the exam.

Supplement to the Terms and Conditions for Exam Administration: Exam Participants with Special Needs (PDF, 594 KB)
Information for Exam Participants with Special Needs (PDF, 61 KB)

3. Where and when can I take the exam?

Please contact the testing location of your choice and request a personal consultation.

4. May I leave the room during the exam?

You may leave the room for a reasonable time (bathroom). This absence will be noted in the “Report on the Administration of the Exam”.

5. Prep course

Can I take the exam without having participated in a prep course?

The participation for the exam requires neither prior attendance at a specific language school or in a prep course nor the acquisition of a lower level certificate.

However, we recommend participation in a prep course at the testing location. There you will learn the necessary linguistic and exam-specific skills that will help you succeed on the exam.

For more information, please contact the testing location of your choice.

6. Which level does my exam represent?

The Goethe-Zertifikats A1 through C2 correspond to the ‘Common European Framework of References for Languages (GER)’. You can check the classification under:
Level classification of the Goethe-Institut exams and language courses
Common European Framework of References for Languages (GER)

7. How much does the exam cost?

Please contact the testing location of your choice with this question.

8. Proof of language knowledge?

Can I verify my language skills with a letter of acknowledgement from the Goethe-Institut?

Acknowledgements stating participation in a language course, an evaluation test, an exam, etc., are not sufficient.

Only an exam certificate of having passed a Goethe exam (A1 through C2, Kleines or Großes Sprachdiplom, respectively) are recognized as proof of the respective knowledge level in German as a Second Language.

9. University studies in Germany?

Which Goethe Exam entitles one to study at a college/university in Germany?

Goethe-Zertifikat C2: Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom, Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung (ZOP), Kleines Deutsches Sprachdiplom (KDS) and Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom (GDS) are recognized for study at a college/university in Germany, and exempt one from taking the TestDaF exam or any similar exam.

To find out more about the language requirement of a specific university and/or a course or field of study in Germany, request information directly from the university, or visit: www.sprachnachweis.de.

10. Which orthography is used in exams?

Binding for the scoring of the written part of all Goethe exams is the orthography introduced in August 2006. The basics are „DUDEN. Die deutsche Rechtschreibung“ (as of the 24th edition, 2006) and „WAHRIG. Die deutsche Rechtschreibung“ ( editions as of 2006).

The currently effective rules can be found at:
Duden. Die deutsche Rechtschreibung
Der Duden Produktkatalog
Bertelsmann WAHRIG. Verlagsprogramm
Institut für Deutsche Sprache (IDS)
DUDEN. Sprachberatung

11. How much time do I need to attain a specific language level?

Learning is an individual process. How much time you need to attain a certain level depends on various and individual factors: your commitment, your time input, and your taking advantage of additional practice resources.

Should you already have studied one or more languages, you may learn German faster. It makes a big difference if you participate in a language course in your home country or in Germany, where you will be exposed to the German language outside the classroom.

Also of relevance is the intensity of the instruction (intensive vs. evening courses, for example). Please consult the testing location of your choice.

12. Where can I get practice materials for the exams?

For each exam level you will find “practice and info materials“
  • by downloading materials free of charge
  • by additionally ordering materials.
You also may receive materials from the language department of the Goethe-Institut nearest you.

13. Can I prepare for the exams via long distance studying and/or online?

Long distance study materials and online courses are available for some exams.
Learning German by correspondence course

14. How often can I take an exam?

The exam as a whole can be re-taken as often as needed. Details on re-taking the exam or part of the exam can be found under Terms and conditions for exam administration.

15. Does the certificate/my exam expire?

Goethe-Zertifikats A1 through C2 do not expire.

Many institutions and employers, however, expect the certificate to be dated not more than two years ago.

The certificates of the Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung (ZOP), das Kleine Deutsche Sprachdiplom (KDS) und das Große Deutsche Sprachdiplom (GDS) will be valid after the introduction of the new Goethe-Zertifikat C2: Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom and with the change of the the exam offers on the level C2 beginning 01.01.2012.

16. Replacement certificate ?

What shall I do if I lose my certificate or it is lost in the mail?

No duplicate will be issued.

If the exam was taken within the last ten years, the testing location where you took the exam will issue a substitute document for a small fee.

17. My name changed. Can I get a new certificate?

In the case of a name change (for example due to marriage, adoption, divorce, etc.), neither a new certificate nor a substitute document will be issued.

A change of name can be verified either with an official document from the relevant authority (birth certificate, marriage license, etc.) or a notarized copy of the above.

Name/ spelling of name must be documented via photo ID during registration at the testing location. The certificate for the exam will be issued based on this previously recorded personal information.

18. Where can I get my certificate notarized?

You may have your certificate notarized – for example, for the purpose of studying in Germany – by any valid notary public (court, government office, school, bank, etc.). Employers usually require a notarization from a law firm.

19. Where can I have my certificate translated?

An official translation can be prepared by a state-recognized translator or translation office.