DSH examination

Questions and answers according the DSH examination

What is the DSH?

The German language examination for the access to a university, shortly DSH, is an examination for applicants for a university place who did not get their study qualification at a German-speaking institution. The examination results are correlated to one of three levels:

  • DSH level 3 (DSH 3) 82% of the reached credits
  • DSH level 2 (DSH 2) 67% of the reached credits
  • DSH level 1 (DSH 1) 57% of the reached credits

The best result is DSH 3. For all courses of study, at least DSH level 2 is required; in a few cases the responsible faculty for the desired course of studies may declare DSH level 1 as sufficient.

Who is allowed to participate in the DSH?
Only those having a qualification that is equal to the general or subject-specific qualification for university entrance and who can verify the authorisation to a German university can be authorized for the examiniation.
Along with the application for authorisation for the examination, the applicants for a university place have to submit a written declaration if they passed the German language examination for the access to a university (DSH) or if they failed to do so.

Exemption from the DSH

In exceptional cases, applicants for a university place can be exempted from the DSH. The exemption will be allowed to persons, who

  • completed the TestDaF in all four parts of the examination with TestDaF level 4 (TDN 4) or higher.
  • completed the language examination (PNdS) for foreign applicants for a university place.
  • completed an assessment test / final examination at a German preparatory college.
  • hold a school leaving certificate that corresponds to a German authorisation for the access to a university.
  • hold the “German Language Certificate of The Conference of German cultural ministers – level II” (DSD II).
  • hold a certificate of a passed “Central Advanced Level Examination” (ZOP) of the Goethe-Institute.
  • hold the “Small German Language Diploma” or the “Big German Language Diploma” of the Goethe-Institute.
  • are exempted from participating in language examinations due to a cross-national agreement
  • already successfully completed university studies at a German-speaking university.

Applicants for a university place can be exempted from the examination if they are able to verify knowledge of the German language and that it is to be expected that the verified knowledge of the German language is sufficient for the desired course of studies.
How and when do I have to register for the DSH?

You have to register in writing at the university carrying out the examination. IDaF will be pleased to assist. You will receive the application forms in the IDaF secretariat or from the conducting university. Please visit the websites of the conducting university beforehand and ask about the “Rules for participants of examinations” on time. The deadline is determined by the universities. Should you not be able to make it to the examination date you must necessarily unsubscribe beforehand in writing! An examination is considered as failed if the applicant for a university place does not appear at an examination date without cause or if they withdraw from the examination after its start without cause. In case of illness, submission of a medical certificate can be demanded.

  • The dates of the examinations are published by the examination board six weeks prior to the written examination taking place.
  • The application of the applicants for a university place for authorisation has to be available to the examination board not later than two weeks prior to the start of the examination dates.
  • The applicants for a university place are invited to the oral examination one week prior to the examination date.

What is the price for participating at the DSH?
For the DSH, an examination fee must be paid. Please inquire in your IDaF secretariat or at the conducting university for the exact price.

How can I prepare for the DSH?
IDaF prepares you in the intensive course C1 for the examination. All current dates can be found in the area German language course.

How does the examination DSH look like?

By means of the DSH, the linguisitic abilty for university studies in the areas listening comprehension, reading comprehension and scientific-linguistic structures, composition of a text and oral expression is verified. Dictionaries are allowed for the handling the tasks. Electronic or other auxiliary means are not allowed.

The particular parts

Listening comprehension (Handling time 50 minutes)

The examination is supposed to verify the ability to follow lectures and speeches in the scientific area, reasonably make notes and to work with those. A text that is appropriate to the communication situation (lecture / exercise) is to be taken as the basis. The text does not require specialist knowledge. The hearing comprehension text is presented twice. It is allowed to make notices. Prior to the presentation of the examination text, hints on its thematic context can be given. The indication of names, dates and difficult technical terms and the demonstration by visual media is allowed. The way of presentation is supposed to be appropriate to the communication situation (lecture / exercise). The definition of the task depends on the structure of the examination text. Especially, the contextual understanding and the identification of the structure of the topic is meant to be the subject of it. It is allowed to assign tasks that are different and combinable with each other, e.g. answer questions, structural sketches, summary. A continuous contextual reproduction of a lecture part is an essential element of the definition of the task.

Reading comprehension (90 minutes incl. reading time)

The examination is meant to verify the ability to understand a presented written text and to deal with it. A generally study-related and science-oriented text that does not require specialist knowledge is to be presented. A chart, a figure or a graph may be attached to the text. The definition of the task in the part reading comprehension depends on the structure of the examination text. Text understanding and the ability of text editing can for example be tested by the following types of tasks: Answer questions, presentation of the argumentation structure of the text, presentation of the arrangement of the text, comment of text passages, phrasing of headlines, summary. The definition of the task in the part structures contains the identification, understanding and the use of scientific-linguistic important structures.

Composition of a text (Handling time 60 minutes)

The examination is meant to verify the ability to comment alone and contextual on a study-related and science-oriented topic.

The composed text should consist of approximately 200 words. It should at least contain one of the linguistic activities from the following groups: Describing, comparing, giving examples, arguing, commenting, valuating.
Parameters for the text composition can be: Charts, figures, graphs, lists of keywords or quotes. The text may not receive the charcater of a free essay. By means of the definition of the task it is to be excluded that tasks can be solved schematically by pre-verbalised passages.

Oral examination (20 minutes at most)

The oral examination is meant to verify the ability to carry out study-related linguistic actions (argue, assess, inform, …) spontaneously, fluently and appropriately and to deal with relevant interaction strategies (change of the speaker, cooperate, ask for clarification, …). The oral examination should not take more than 20 minutes. The oral examination consists of a short lecture of describing nature of around 5 minutes and a following dialogue with the examinant of around 15 minutes. The basis of the oral examination should be a short and linguistically not too difficult text and/or a figure / chart. The candidate should be allowed to prepare up to 30 minutes for the oral examination.

How often may a DSH be repeated?
The examination may be repeated as often as necessary.


We hope that the basic questions regarding the DSH could be answered with this short information. At IDaF, we help you to prepare optimally for the DSH.

We wish you a successful examination and would be pleased if your wish to study in Germany comes true soon!

Your IDaF team

For preparation, we recommend the intensive course Heinrich Heine C1.