DSH Exam

The German Language Proficiency Test for University Admission ("Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang") DSH proves the linguistic ability to study at a university in the areas of: listening comprehension, reading comprehension and scientific language structures, text production as well as oral expression.

The examination certificate shows the overall result from the oral and written examination as DSH-3, DSH-2 or DSH-1. The certificate includes an indication of the individual results achieved in the specific areas of the test.

The written exam is divided into the following components:

  1. Comprehension and processing of a written text and academic language
    (allotted time: 90 min including time for reading)
  2. Comprehension and processing of an audiotext (allotted time: 10 min after the first text, 40 min after the second text. The listening time and potential initial instructions are not included in the processing time)
  3. Guideline oriented text production (allotted time: 70 min)

The examination’s parts should have to do with at least two different areas of study. A monolingual dictionary (but not on an electronic device) is allowed to be used during the exam.

The written examination takes a maximum of four hours (including listening time during the comprehension section).

Detailed information regarding the various subsections:

  1. Comprehension and processing of a written text and academic language:The students are expected to prove their ability to comprehend and to work with a given text.
    1. Type of text
      It should be a largely authentic, study-related and academically orientated text that does not require expertise, or only enough that has already been focused on in class.A graphic, chart or diagram might be added to the text. The text should not have less than 4500 or more than 6000 characters (including spaces).
    2. Task: listening comprehension
      The task is dependent on the structure of the text. Text comprehension and the capability of working with texts/word processing can be proven by following tasks:

      • Answering questions
      • Description of the main argument´s structure
      • Description of the text´s structure
      • Explanation of text passages
      • Formulating headings
      • Summary
    3. Reading comprehension assessment
      The performance will be assessed according to completeness and appropriateness.
    4. Task: Academic language
      The task contains recognition, comprehension and use of relevant academic and scientific structures. The task should focus on the specific features of the text (e.g. syntax, word formation, lexis, idioms, type of text, specifications) and can contain modifications, questions for understanding complex structures, as well as different types of rewriting (such as paraphrasing or transformation).
    5. Academic language assessment
      The work will be assessed according to linguistic accuracy. Morphological, lexical, idiomatic as well as tasks related to the type of text can be integrated in reading comprehension and be counted towards it. Syntactical tasks such as transformations should generally comprise 8-10 points and not more than 25% of the partial test. The grades for the scientific language section will be indicated separately.
  2. Comprehension and processing of an audiotext:
    The students are expected to prove their ability to follow spoken texts and talks of within the scientific field, to make productive notes and to work with the knowledge gained.

    1. Type and size of the text
      The text should appropriately relate to the communicative situation of the lecture/lesson. The text will not require expertise, or only enough that has already been focused on in class. The text should not have less than 5500 nor more than 7000 characters depending on redundancy (including spaces).
    2. Implementation
      The audiotext will be played twice. Notes can be taken during this time. Hints about the thematic context can be given before the audiotext is played. Giving information about names, dates and difficult technical terms as well as illustration through visual tools is permitted. The way the text is presented should appropriately relate to the communicative situation of the lecture/lesson.
    3. Task
      The task is dependent on the structure of the text. Mainly it should be focused on understanding the content and recognizing the topic structure and the organization of the text.Different tasks can be combined such as:

      • Answering questions
      • Structural charts
      • Summary
      • Description of train of thought
    4. Assessment
      The work will be assessed in regard to accuracy and completeness of the given task.
  3. Guideline oriented text production:This section should prove the ability to independently and coherently form take a stand regarding an academically oriented topic.
    1. Task
      The text production should be approx. 250 words in length. It should include at least one of the language acts of each of the following groups:

      • Describe, compare, give examples
      • Argue, comment, evaluate

      Guidelines for the text production can be graphics, charts, diagrams, keyword lists or quotations, for instance. However, they should not take on the character of an essay. Information from graphics, charts and diagrams can be considered in the introduction or to support the own argumentation. It should rule out the possibility of the task being schematically completed through preformulated sections.

    2. Assessment
      The performance needs to be assessed according to content-related aspects (appropriateness, text structure, coherence) and linguistic aspects (correctness, word choice, syntax, cohesion). Linguistic aspects should be taken more under consideration.

In the oral exam, which takes place after the written exam, students are expected to prove their spoken language skills in regard to academic topics. They should be able to discuss a subject in detail, to evaluate, to illustrate, to inform etc. spontaneously, fluently and in an appropriate way as well as to comprehend processes, issues and chains of thought autonomously, to verbally process them and to interact reasonably in a conversation (change of speaker, cooperation, asking for clarification etc.).

  1. Tasks and form of the exam
    The examination discussion will not exceed 20 minutes. The oral exam is split into two parts. First, the student will hold a short presentation of a maximum 5 minutes based on a short and not too complicated text and/or a diagram. The presentation is followed by a conversation between the examiner and the student, which will not exceed 15 minutes. In order to prepare the presentation the student has a preparation time of 20 minutes. Group examinations are not allowed.
  2. Assessment
    The oral examination will be assessed in terms of content, comprehensibility and the ability to independently form thoughts, language correctness and lexical complexity, pronunciation and intonation.

The final result is weighted as follows: text production: listening comprehension: reading comprehension: reworking of academic language structures = 2 : 2 : 2 : 1.

To pass the oral examination, candidates must fulfil at least 57% of the requirements (DSH-1).

Candidates can reach following levels:

  • DSH-1: in the written as well as in the oral exam at least 57%
  • DSH-2: in the written as well as in the oral exam at least 67%
  • DSH-3: in the written as well as in the oral exam at least 82%