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DSH and TestDaF Comparison

Students entering Germany for study purpose have to demonstrate their German language proficiency by appearing for one of the 2 recognized test-DSH or TestDaF.

These two tests are more or less the same. The point of differences are-


The TestDaF is a standardized language test whose structure/pattern of the tests is same wherever or whenever you take it but the content is different.  As far as DSH is concerned, it has some set rules, but in general the university taking the test has the authority to make the changes. It is up to the university conducting the test.

Structure of TestDaF

Reading Comprehension: Time allotted for this section is 60 minutes and consists of 3 sections (reading texts)-
  • Section 1 requires the candidates to match between 8 short paragraphs and 10 statements
  • Section 2 requires candidates to answer 10 objective-type questions on a scientific topic.
  • Section 3 requires the candidates to read and understand a scientific text presented and based on it answer 10 statements as true or false or doesn’t belong to the text.
Listening Comprehension: Consists of 3 parts (audio-text) that needs to be completed in 40 minutes.
  • Part 1: You are required to answer 8 questions in short words based on what you hear. The piece is played once and is very generic.
  • Part 2: This is a complex part wherein you have to answer 10 statements as true or false.
  • Part 3: This part includes a complex scientific paragraph that is run twice. You are required to answer 7 questions in sentence format.
Writing: A topic is given and you have to compose a paragraph on it in 60 minutes time.
Speaking: It has seven parts covering separate subjects. You are required to speak about them for about 0.5-2 minutes each and record it. 2 to 3 minutes preparation time is also given. Total duration of this part is 30 minutes.

DSH Structure

The structure isn’t same as individual universities develop and maintain it, but few common points can be-
Writing/Comprehension and Working on text: Analyze graphs and write a piece based on it in 60 minutes.

Listening Comprehension: A paragraph is played twice and based on based on your hearing and understanding ability the questions.
  • Time allotted is 60 minutes.
Reading Comprehension and Grammar: You have to answer questions based on the given one long paragraph, 7-10 questions based on grammatical structure and transformation about the same paragraph are given. To complete both the tasks 90 minutes are given.

Oral Exam: In this, discuss a topic/subject of your specialization area. 20 minutes are given for this exam.

Grading Mechanism

The TestDaF has four sections and the grade of each is above 5, thereby,  leading to total marks of 20. Most of the Universities require a score of 16 or 80% in the test for admittance.

While in DSH, there are four sections, but the grade isn’t separated equally between them. In DSH, first the written exam is taken with initial 3 parts and then you move onto the oral exam. The final grade of DSH is the minimum between the two exams grades. 67% is the minimum required grade for DHS.

Grading system of DSH

Split into 3 levels:
  • DSH-3 : 82% and above
  • DSH-2 : 67-82%, and this is the minimum requirement by the German higher education institutions
  • DSH-1 : 57-67%, stands as “Passed”
  • Below 57% : means “Failed”

Grading system of TestDaF

The grades are expressed in 3 TestDaF levels (TDN) - Grading Levels 3, 4 and 5

Below TDN 3 means “failed” and all examination parts will have to be repeated.

TestDaF-Level 4- Can apply to Universities.

TDN 5 means excellent command of German language.

TestDaF vs. DSH

  TestDaF DSH
Standardized Test
 Yes No
 Conducting Organization External Audit Organisation- TestDaF Institute Internal- By Respective Universities or Colleges
 Structure of Test Consists of Listening comprehension, Reading Comprehension, Written Expression an Oral Expression. No grammar exam is there in TestDaF Consists of four written parts and an oral exam. Grammar is tested.
 No. of days All exams are performed on the same day Oral exam is taken on a different day.
 Minimum Grade Required 80% 67%
 Oral Examination The Oral expression exam is performed on Computer. Record answers to computer Oral examination is conducted by the professor/teacher of the Department of German as a foreign language at the University.
 Dates Six times a Year Several times a year

See also:

Study in Germany
Tests for higher Education in Germany
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