What is DSH (German Language Examination for Higher Education)?

The German Language Examination for Higher Education (DSH) is a linguistic admission examination which serves to prove the German language skills of foreign study applicants required for a university study in Germany. The examination is also to be taken by study applicants with a German passport, which do not have a German-speaking educational qualification.


The prerequisite for participation in the DSH is admission to a particular course or the language course at the universities, but there are also an increasing number of "open" DSHs, which are also open to highly scholarship applicants who are not (yet) licensed.

The DSH is offered at many universities on a fee basis, with the price ranging from € 40 to € 150. At some locations, the exam is allowed to be repeated at most two times, between a failed exam and a repetition, must be at least three months. Participation in a preparatory course is recommended. At other locations the test can be repeated without any restriction.

Structure of the DSH


The DSH consists of a written and an oral examination. The written partial examinations take place before the oral examination. Both written and oral examinations have to be passed to pass the overall examination, but the overall result is not averaged. In order to achieve the normally required level DSH 2, for example, both test parts must be passed with at least the DSH 2 result, test participants who have achieved DSH 3 in the written partial test but complete the oral partial examination only with DSH 1 shall fail, because the overall result comprises only the DSH 1 level.
The threshold for each partial test is 57%, the level DSH 2 is between 67% and 81%, from 82% DSH 3.

A German-German dictionary can usually be used in the written part of the examination. It takes three to four hours to complete the following tasks:

1. Understanding and processing a listening text
2. Understanding and editing a reading text
3. Target-oriented text production
4. Understanding and editing of scientific-language structures

The four task areas can also be combined. However, all four task areas must be checked.


In the "Understanding and processing of a listening text", the applicants are to show that they can follow and understand daily conservations and lectures from the scientific field and can make meaningful notes on them.

The listening text is 50 to 100 lines long. Before each section, the context is given. The each text is then usually read twice. Notes can be taken by the participants. Prior to the last listening, tasks will be assigned:


1. Answering questions
2. Summarizing or describing the text


Language Levels

The results of the DSH are given in three levels (DSH 1 to DSH 3), which correspond approximately to the stages B2 to C2 of the GER (Common European Framework) and in approval procedures analogous to the levels TDN-3 to TDN-5 of the TestDaF Test German as a foreign language).


At level DSH 1, enrollment can be linked to the attendance of further language courses and a re-examination. It is sufficient to enroll in bilingual (e.g. English-German) courses without additional requirements. For the majority of courses at German-speaking universities, the level DSH-2 is required for enrollment, only DSH-3 is necessary for some courses which require significant linguistic skills.


According to the DSH framework, each university organizes their examinations independently, but within a standardized framework. That is, tasks at each university can also differ. Nevertheless, the DSH of every German university, which has been accredited by the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz on the basis of the new framework, must be recognized by other universities.

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