DSH Test
If you are learning German you may have heard of the DSH exam. What does it mean and why is it so important? The DSH test is simply a standardized German exam used to determine your skill level to study at a German university.
The abbreviation DSH stands for Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (German Exam for College Admission). It consists of a written and an oral examination. Both are carried out separately on different days.
The DSH exam tests the following skills:
  • Listening comprehension
  • Reading comprehension
  • Writing
  • Speaking
The DSH certificate has three levels of scores depending on the total percentage
  • DSH-1 (66% - 57%, lowest entrance level acceptable)
  • DSH-2 (81% - 67%, generally accepted)
  • DSH-3 (100% - 82%, highest level, appropriate for any faculty)
The Written DSH Test
The written DSH test consists of Listening Comprehension and Reading Comprehension and takes around 3 hours:
Listening Comprehension (50 minutes)
You are expected to demonstrate your ability to follow an academic speech, take notes and process the information. Possible questions include true/false, various assignments pertaining to the text or passages of it, synopsis of the content. The text is presented aloud twice and does not require specific previous knowledge of the subject.
Reading Comprehension (90 minutes)
You have to demonstrate that you can understand and independently analyze a writing sample of general academic nature. The types of tasks may include questions pertaining to the content of the text, questions to the overall structure of the text or to parts of it, explanations of text passages (interpretation), true/false questions, phrasing titles, assignments (matching sentences with their corresponding parts in the text) et al. The section "Linguistic Structures" is designed to assess your ability to recognize, understand and apply linguistic structures relevant to academic language. The tasks are related to the linguistic features of the given reading comprehension text (e.g. syntax, morphology or vocabulary, idioms) and may request sentence completion, explanation of specific linguistic items in the text as well as different types of rephrasing.
Writing (1 hour)
You have to write your own coherent and well structured text on a given topic taken from an academic context. The text may cover description, comparison and/or argument. This part of the DSH may be based on a graph, a drawing, a diagram, a word list or a quotation.
The Oral Examination (around 20 minutes)
This section of the DSH measures your ability to communicate appropriately in the academic context. After a short warm-up conversation related to university life you are asked to respond spontaneously and fluently to questions on the basis of a short given text or graph prepared 15 minutes before the exam. The questions or stimuli may require reception, explanation, summary, argument, as well as communicative skills such as interaction, giving or asking for information et al. Students who completed an intensive (or semester) course can be exempted from the oral examination, as there is ample information to assess their ability to communicate. In this case the oral proficiency level will be fixed at an average score of each of the tree levels (DSH-1: 62%, DSH-2: 75%, DSH-3: 90%).

Note: There will be no oral examination if the written sections are not passed.
The results are assigned the following weights:
Listing comprehension: 20%
Reading comprehension: 20%
Linguistic Structures: 10%
Writing: 20%
Taking the DSH usually costs 50 EUR. The fee has to be paid in cash up front.
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