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Complete Guide to the DELE Exam [2023]

Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera

Table of Contents

If you’re looking for an official way to prove your Spanish proficiency, you’ll come across the DELE exam. It’s one of several exams from the Instituto Cervantes that are internationally acknowledged.

Most importantly, it’s the most widely recognized Spanish exam.

Therefore, it’s the natural choice for most professionals looking to prove their language capabilities.

For those interested in the diploma, we’ve created this guide to catch you up to speed. Read on to learn how the exam works, how to take it, and how to study for it.

How Does the DELE Exam Work?

The DELE exam is a four-part Spanish language proficiency exam. It covers four areas of language skill:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Listening

In each area, examinees carry out tasks on their own or with an examiner to demonstrate their skills.

Depending on the exam level, DELE exams take between 105 minutes (1h45) and 305 minutes (6h5) to complete.

How Many DELE Levels Are There?

There are six DELE exam levels, each reflecting a different level of proficiency. They correspond to the CEFR language proficiency levels, A1 through to C2, which makes them easy to interpret. They are described by the DELE exam site as follows:

  • A1 – Breakthrough
  • A2 – Waystage
  • B1 – Threshold
  • B2 – Vantage
  • C1 – Effective Operational Proficiency
  • C2 – Mastery

Do You Have to Take DELE Exam Levels In Order?

No. You can take any level exam without ever taking the levels below it.

What Are the Passing Marks for DELE?

The DELE exam has a total of 100 total points. These are split into 25 points each for reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

However, these four groups are further clustered into two groups:

  • Reading and writing (50 points)
  • Speaking and listening (50 points)

The minimum passing mark is 30 per unit of 50. This adds up to a total of 60/100 points for a passing grade. 

DELE divides the grade like this to ensure overall competence. For example, if your reading is very good but your writing is less so, you could still pass if you are also very good at either listening or speaking. However, if you are only good at listening and speaking and poor at reading and writing there is little chance of passing.

The most advanced exam, C2, has a slightly different setup. But the passing grade is still 60%.

Can I Retake the DELE Exam?

Yes! There’s no limit to how many times you take the exam. All you have to do is sign up online for the next exam in your area.

How Long Are DELE Diplomas Valid?

DELE diplomas don’t have an expiration date. Once you’ve got the diploma under your belt, you’ve got it for life.

Don’t forget though that you can take more advanced levels of the DELE exam as your language progresses. Then your diploma will reflect your current, more advanced Spanish skills.

How Much Does DELE Cost?

DELE exams don’t have a fixed price. Each country, level, and examination centre may have their own rates. However, expect it to cost between £100-200 in the UK.

Where Can I Take the DELE Exam in the UK?

The DELE exam regularly takes place across many countries. Find your local upcoming test dates and locations via the Instituto Cervantes website. If you’re in the UK, choose “Reino Unido” from the drop-down menu; if you're in the US, you can choose "Estados Unidos" instead.

Why Take the DELE Exam?

The greatest benefit of a DELE diploma is its international recognition. While GCSE or A-Level Spanish qualifications may look good in the UK, they’re much harder for overseas organisations to interpret. However, when an employer can see your DELE grade, they know exactly what it means.

Should School Students Take the DELE Exam?

For that reason, it may not be necessary if you only intend to use your Spanish in the UK. That being said, if you’re a student whose school doesn’t offer Spanish exams, you can take DELE for young learners.

How to Study for the DELE Exam

As the DELE exam isn’t cheap, you’ll want to study up beforehand to make sure you pass! Here's a specific writing exercise about the DELE exam that our expert language teachers crafted for you: How to get ready for the DELE (B2).

Take this exercise to learn more about the DELE while you practise your Spanish!

What’s the best way to study and practise advanced Spanish language concepts? You need a tool that’s customised to you; providing targeted learning based on your ability.

The good news is – you’ve found it!

A free Kwiziq account gets you access to materials specially designed for advanced learners. Our lessons, exercises, and kwizzes let Kwizbot personalise your study plan, then walk you through it.

And did we mention that it’s free?

Sign up for your free Kwiziq account today to ace your DELE exam!


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