Italian language certification exams allow you to prove your knowledge of Italian as a foreign language. They are valid both in Italy and abroad.
There are different types of Italian language certification exams. And it is good to have a bird sight view of them all before picking one.
What are Italian language certification exams, and what is their purpose?
They are certificates issued by official bodies, internationally recognized, which serve to accredit the level of learning of a foreign language.
The exams evaluate the four language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
The institutions that carry out the exams base the proficiency level for each skill on the Common European Framework of Reference for Foreign Languages standards.
Have you heard of the Common European Framework of Reference for Foreign Languages (CEFR)?
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is an international standard for describing the language proficiency of each language learner.
The Common European Framework of Reference for Foreign Languages has standardized six levels. The six levels are: A1 / A2, B1 / B2, C1 / C2.
The letter at the beginning of each level stands for: elementary (A), intermediate (B), and advanced (C).
Italian language certificates: all official exams
There are five internationally recognized official certifications in Italy. These certificates base their exams on the CEFR.
The exams are held in Italy and abroad in most European and non-European countries. To find out where they carry out exams, visit the official websites of the different institutions. We leave you a link to each institution in the body of this post.
CELI – Università per Stranieri di Perugia
The Università per Stranieri di Perugia is one of the oldest Italian institutions for teaching and disseminating the Italian language and culture in the world.
It was founded in 1921 by Astorre Lupattelli. A few years later, in 1927, it established its headquarters in the prestigious Palazzo Gallenga, in the city center of Perugia.
The certificate issued by this institution is the CELI.
There are three types of certificates: general, for immigrants, and adolescents (between 13 and 17-years-old).
The general certification division consists of six levels of examination (from A1 to C2).
The certification for immigrants consists of three levels: A1, A2, and B1.
The certification for teenagers are available at levels A2, B1, and B2.
The university offers an additional type of certification called CIC. This certification attests to the knowledge of Italian for business. The CIC exam aims at people who wish to work in business environments where knowledge of the Italian language is required.
The CIC examination consists of only two levels: intermediate and advanced.
There are two exam sessions per year (in June and November) for all levels. Additionally, there are three sessions per year (March, June, and November) for exams that are on demand.
Here are the six levels and the duration of each exam:
CELI Impatto – A1 (duration: 1 hour 20 minutes)
CELI 1 – A2 (duration: 2 hours 30 minutes)
CELI 2 – B1 (duration: 2 hours 35 minutes)
CELI 3 – B2 (duration: 3 hours 40 minutes)
CELI 4 – C1 (duration: 4 hours 45 minutes)
CELI 5 – C2 (duration: 4 hours 45 minutes)
To be certified in one of these levels, it is necessary to pass the exam consisting of four parts: comprehension of written texts, production of written texts, comprehension of oral texts, and production of oral texts.
From level B2 upwards, there is also a language proficiency test.
The written test and the oral exam are separate. A person could be approved in the written test and not pass the oral exam. When this happens, the person gets to “keep” the positive result. And must retake the part in which he failed within a maximum period of a year.
CILS – Università per Stranieri di Siena
The Università per Stranieri di Siena has a long history. It dates back to 1588 when they gave their first Italian language course to a group of German students.
In 1917, they created their first official Italian language and culture courses.
The official exam of the Università per Stranieri di Siena is called CILS and consists of 6 levels, from A1 to C2. Here is a list with the name and duration of each exam:
CILS A1 (duration: 2 hours)
CILS A2 (duration: 2 hours 45 minutes)
CILS UNO – B1 (duration: 3 hours 50 minutes)
CILS DUE – B2 (duration: 3 hours 55 minutes)
CILS TRE – C1 (duration: 4 hours 55 minutes)
CILS QUATTRO – C2 (duration: 5 hours 30 minutes)
There are two exam sessions per year (in June and December). The exams for all the levels are carried out simultaneously worldwide on these two occasions.
The first two levels (CILS A1 and CILS A2) have four different exams. Each exam is for a specific demographic. These are:
Adults in Italy
Children (8-11 years old)
Teenagers (12-16 years old)
The tests measure all language skills: listening comprehension, reading comprehension, written production, oral production, and the ability to manage communication structures in Italian.
To obtain the CILS certification, the candidate must achieve a minimum score in all the skills that make up the exam.
If somebody does not reach the minimum score in some skills, they can retake the test within a year, maximum. They do not need to retake the parts of the test they passed during that year.
IT – Università degli Studi Roma Tre
This University in Rome is considered one of the top 100 emerging universities worldwide. It was founded in 1992 and is the “youngest” university in the city of Rome.
The IT certificate consists of 4 levels. Here is the name and duration of the exam for each one of them:
base.IT – A2 (duration: 2 hours 5 minutes)
ele.IT – B1 (duration: 2 hours 40 minutes)
int.IT – B2 (duration: 3 hours 10 minutes)
IT – C2 (duration: 5 hours 30 minutes)
The dates of the exam sessions depend on the level you choose. The base.IT and ele.IT exams are held twice a year, in May and November. And the int.IT and IT exams are held once a year, in June.
All tests take place at the University of Roma Tre and affiliated institutions.
Here is a general idea of who takes the IT exams:
A person applying for a residence permit takes the A2 exam.
Somebody wanting to study at an Italian university takes the B2 exam.
A person planning to work in a specialized field in Italy or requiring a certificate to receive the role of an Italian teacher takes the C2 exam.
A peculiar feature of these certificates is that they have an “expiration date”:
base.IT – expires after two years.
ele.IT – expires after three years.
int.IT – expires after four years.
IT – expires after five years.
PLIDA – Società Dante Alighieri
The Società Dante Alighieri was founded in 1889 by intellectuals led by the famous Italian poet Giosuè Carducci.
The purpose of this association has always been the promotion, preservation, and love of Italian culture and language.
This institution issues a diploma called PLIDA. It certifies proficiency in Italian as a foreign language according to a scale of six levels, from A1 to C2.
The exams take place twice a year, in May and November.
Here is the name and duration of the exam in each level:
PLIDA A1 (duration: 1 hour 30 minutes)
PLIDA A2 (duration: 1 hour 40 minutes)
PLIDA B1 (duration: 1 hour 50 minutes)
PLIDA B2 (duration: 1 hour 50 minutes)
PLIDA C1 (duration: 2 hours 20 minutes)
PLIDA C2 (duration: 3 hours 30 minutes)
For students from 13 to 18 years old, there is a diploma specifically designed for teenagers, the PLIDA JUNIORS. It has the same structure and institutional validity as the ordinary PLIDA. The difference is that texts and communicative situations are more suited to an adolescent audience. Levels range from A1 to C1:
PLIDA A1 JUNIORS (duration: 1 hour 30 minutes)
PLIDA A2 JUNIORS (duration: 1 hour 40 minutes)
PLIDA B1 JUNIORS (duration: 1 hour 50 minutes)
PLIDA B2 JUNIORS (duration: 1 hour 50 minutes)
PLIDA C1 JUNIORS (duration: 2 hours 20 minutes)
PLIDA JUNIORES exams are held twice a year, in June and October.
The examination centers are, besides the headquarters of the Dante Alighieri Society in Florence, some Italian cultural centers and institutions or, abroad, Italian cultural institutes and other organizations.
If a candidate does not reach the minimum score in some sections, he can retake it in the next session.
AIL – Accademia Italiana di Lingua
AIL is an association of schools, institutions, and national and international experts working in Italian language certifications and teaching for foreigners.
AIL certifications are recognized all over the world.
The exams come in five levels (from A2 to C2). And are held four times a year in different accredited locations worldwide.
Here is the name and duration of the exam in each level:
DELI – A2 (duration: 1 hour 30 minutes)
DILI – B1 (duration: 2 hours 40 minutes)
DILI – B2 (duration: 3 hours 40 minutes)
DALI – C1 (duration: 4 hours 10 minutes)
DALI – C2 (duration: 4 hours 50 minutes)
The Accademia Italiana di Lingua tests focus on aspects of practical communication in everyday life.
The correction of written papers and final evaluation is carried out at the Florence headquarters to guarantee uniformity in the judgment.
Examinations are held at all AIL locations four times in the year (March, June, September, and December).
We hope you now have a clearer idea of the options you have. Some of the conditions you need to evaluate are:
How close to your home will the exams take place?
What time of the year is more convenient for you?
Which level does the certificate need to meet?
Answering these questions will help you choose the best option for you.
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