This article offers a comprehensive set of instructions on the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH) for international students interested in pursuing higher education in Germany or a German-speaking country. You will find detailed information about DSH, a language proficiency test requirement that is mostly accepted in universities in German-speaking regions.

Increase your chances of getting admitted into a university that accepts DSH scores by utilizing the tips and information provided here.

What is Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH)?

As mentioned above, the Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang (DSH) is a test for non-native German speakers. It assesses the German language proficiency of individuals interested in pursuing higher education in German universities. The test ensures that students have the necessary language skills to effectively engage in German academic courses.

Not everyone is eligible for the DSH; it is generally only open to international students who have applied for admission or enrolled at a German university. Some universities and institutions also offer DSH preparatory courses.

As acceptance and recognition of the DSH exam often vary between institutions and universities, the validity of the exam is usually limited to the institute it was taken in. Hence, it is best that you inquire about specific requirements and recognition of language proficiency exams from your institution of interest before taking the exam.

Benefits of Taking DSH

The DSH exam is highly recommended for international students pursuing higher education in German universities, as the test can be very beneficial in terms of academic eligibility, success, and career advancement.

As most German universities require the DSH exam, students who achieve the recommended score will be able to meet the set language requirements by their chosen university.

In addition, students who pass the DSH will have better opportunities in their chosen fields. Fluency in the German language will greatly contribute to academic success and career advancement opportunities.

The recommended DSH exam scores may vary depending on your university and program of choice. Typically, most undergraduate courses and some graduate courses require a DSH-2 score, while other more competitive courses may require a DSH-3. You should check with the program and university you are applying for specific requirements.

When and Where to Take DSH? 

The DSH exams are usually offered at German universities. You may, however, look into other options and look up the availability of test centers in your country before scheduling to take the exam. The availability of test centers varies depending on the country.

Typically, the university website details all the important information you need to know, like exam dates, registration procedures, specific requirements, and details on the available test centers offering the DSH exam.

Cost of Taking the DSH

There are several costs involved in taking the DSH exam. Costs incurred by applicants include exam fees, registration fees, and additional preparation materials or courses. The cost may vary between institutes or universities.

The registration cost, which covers administration costs of securing your spot for the DSH exam and the cost for processing your application may range from €50 – €100. The exam fee that applicants have to settle is around €160. Students already enrolled in certain universities may be offered discounted rates.

In addition, preparation materials or courses offered by some universities incur an additional fee of around €400. This amount varies depending on the course duration and its intensity. Despite the additional expense, these preparatory materials benefit students who require additional support.

Overview of the DSH Scoring System 

The DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang) is an exam for non-native German speakers to assess their level of proficiency in the language. It is used to prove language proficiency for individuals wanting to pursue higher education in Germany or a German-speaking country. The DSH exam has 3 levels ranging from DSH 1 – DSH 3.

The DSH exam levels are based on the popular language proficiency framework, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which categorizes language proficiency into various levels. The CEFR levels range from A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced). The CEFR levels that correspond with each DSH level are discussed below. You may also look at the table for a clearer idea.

The DSH 1 level is considered equivalent to CEFR level B2. The level indicates that the candidate can communicate and understand German in everyday situations and, therefore, has a good command of the language. However, if they are interested in pursuing higher education, they must further improve their proficiency in German to meet the demands of academic studies.

The DSH 2  level is considered equivalent to CEFR level C1. The level indicates that the candidate can express and understand complex ideas in German in writing and orally. Therefore, they demonstrate a high proficiency in the German language. DSH 2 is generally the recommended level for admission into most German university graduate and undergraduate academic programs.

The DSH 3 level is considered equivalent to CEFR level C2 and is the highest level of proficiency. The level indicates that the candidate can produce and comprehend complex academic texts in German and, therefore, has an advanced command and high fluency in German. DSH 3 is often a required qualification for academic positions in German-speaking countries and for enrolling in some highly competitive academic programs.

DSH levels required for admission to institutions and universities may vary between universities and programs. It is advisable to refer to the program’s admission requirements you are interested in before taking the exam.

CEFR TDN Level Linguistic Competence
Elementary A1
Intermediate B1
B2 DSH1 Has a good command of the language.
Able to engage in everyday conversations.
Advanced C1 DSH2 Demonstrates a high level of German language proficiency.
Able to express and understand complex ideas in German both in writing and orally.
C2 DSH3 Has an advanced command and high fluency of the German language.
Able to produce and comprehend complex academic texts in German.

Overview of DSH Test Structure

Two parts comprise the DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang): the written and oral DSH exams. Both exams are designed to improve the language proficiency of non-native German speakers interested in pursuing higher education in Germany or a German-speaking country.

The Test structure for the DSH exam is as follows (refer to the table below for a summarized description):

1. Written DSH Exam

The written exam is typically around 240 minutes or 4 hours. The paper consists of around 60-80 open-ended and multiple-choice questions. It assesses writing skills, listening comprehension, and reading comprehension. Tasks on the paper include writing essays, summarizing information, reading and understanding academic texts, and completing sentences.

Please note that it is essential for candidates to pass the written exam for them to be able to proceed to the oral exam. Passing scores may vary depending on your study program and university.

2. Oral DSH Exam

The duration for the oral exam typically ranges from 20-30 minutes for each candidate. It evaluates the listening and speaking skills of candidates. Tasks in this exam include engaging in conversation with the examiner, defending and presenting a given topic, and discussing a given topic.

The oral DSH exam assesses the candidate’s ability to express ideas coherently and clearly, the effectiveness of communication, and the appropriate use of grammar and vocabulary. The exam is conducted individually.

Test Section Description
The written DSH Exam Approximately 240 minutes in duration.
Around 60-80 open-ended and multiple-choice questions.
Assesses writing skills, listening comprehension, and reading comprehension.
The oral DSH Exam 20-30 minutes in duration.
Conducted individually.
Evaluate the listening and speaking skills of candidates.

As mentioned above, candidates must pass the written DSH exam before proceeding to the oral DSH exam. The final exam evaluation will consider the candidate’s performance in both the written and oral sections. Typically, the exams are grades on a scale of 1 to 3; however, criteria for evaluation may differ. The best result would be being graded 1, while a grade of 3 would indicate the need for further improvement in language.

Ways to Prepare for the DSH Exam

Dedication and consistency are key to achieving any feat, including your DSH exam. You must set a study schedule, regularly monitor your progress, and ensure that you spend time on all sections. Being thorough and practicing regularly will greatly enhance your chances of success in your DSH exams.

Here are four preparatory tips to help you prepare for your DSH exam.

1. Practice

Familiarizing yourself with the test questions and their format is one of the most effective ways to help prepare for your DSH exam. You can take practice papers and sample tests available in preparation books and online. You must adapt to the exam’s structure and assess your weaknesses and strengths.

2. Improve Grammar and Vocabulary

A broad vocabulary and a strong foundation in grammar are essential to pass your DSH exam. You can achieve this by doing regular vocabulary exercises, reading German literature, and conversing with native speakers to enhance your language skills. You can improve your language proficiency using various free online resources like Deutsche Welle, Duolingo, and Lingoda.

3. Taking Mock Speaking Tests

You need strong listening and speaking skills to tackle the Oral DSH exam. You can consider taking mock speaking tests with a native speaker, language partner, or tutor to prepare for the oral exam. You can also practice by involving yourself in mock topic discussions, responding to questions, and presenting arguments. Practicing will greatly help improve your German speaking abilities and boost your confidence.

4. Maximizing the Use of Study Materials and Resources

You should use study resources and materials when preparing for your DSH exam. Many online platforms offer free exercises and German courses targeting preparation for the DSH exam. Some well-known online platforms include Lingoda, Deutsche Welle, and DeutschAkademie.

In addition, numerous books also offer practice questions and comprehensive study materials for each DSH section. Some popular books include “DSH Training” and “Fit für den TestDaf”.

Universities and Institutions Accepting DSH

Plenty of universities and institutions accept DSH scores in Germany and German-speaking countries. These institutions and universities allow international students to pursue higher education in German-speaking countries.

Here are 10 universities that accept DSH scores to prove non-German speakers’ German language proficiency. These universities offer comprehensive academic programs for international students well-versed in the German language.

University Name City / Location Minimum DSH Score Accepted
1. Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) Germany DSH-2
2. Technical University of Munich (TUM) Germany DSH-2
3. Humboldt University of Berlin Germany DSH-2
4. University of Vienna Austria DSH-2
5. University of Zurich Switzerland DSH-2
6. Free University of Berlin Germany DSH-2
7. University of Freiburg Germany DSH-2
8. University of Basel Switzerland DSH-2
9. University of Hamburg Germany DSH-2
10. University of Cologne Germany DSH-2

The DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang) is for non-native German speakers who wish to take a German language proficiency exam. It allows international students to achieve academic and career success in German-speaking countries by providing them with the necessary language skills. The exam also provides proof of your German language skills to enroll in universities in Germany or a German-speaking country.


We hope you find the Complete Guide to DSH useful and can help in preparation. Head to our Study in Germany Page for more details about studying in this European powerhouse – from the different universities to the numerous scholarship opportunities! You can also check the Available Programs in Europe for courses that are currently accepting international students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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