Every student in the current academic climate aspires to enroll in a prestigious institution of higher learning. Countless overseas students choose to study at a Spanish university since they consistently rank high among the world’s finest. However, linguistic competence is a necessary condition for enrollment.

The country houses 53 advanced universities that are among the highest-ranked in the world. However, most of them only admit international students who have taken and passed examinations of English or Spanish language proficiency.

To better understand this, we have put all the detail regarding the widely-accepted language tests required in Spain for foreign applying students

What are the Basic Language Requirements Needed in Spanish for International Students?

Presently, 70% of Spain’s population speaks Spanish, making it the country’s de facto official language. This makes it a widely accepted and spoken language in the majority of its institutes. The Spanish Ministry of Education provides Spanish Diplomas as accredited credentials demonstrating the level of proficiency and command of Spanish.

The remaining 27% of Spain’s population speaks English. In order to provide international students with world-class acceptance and recognition in the world, many universities accept English Proficiency tests in Spain. The rest 3% of people are both Spanish and English-speaking. According to the regulations imposed by several Spanish universities, only candidates who have achieved a certain minimum score on an English and Spanish Language Proficiency Test will be accepted into their major courses of study.

Relevant Language Tests in Spain for International Students

Students’ abilities to utilize English and Spanish in educational environments are evaluated by means of tests that assess their reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills. For them to gain admission to reputable Spanish universities, relevant language tests are a necessity. There are tests that are considered to be gold standards for assessing their language competence. Some of the top language tests needed for international students in Spain are elaborated below. Students are able to pass as a speaker of intermediate to advanced language with these.

English Language Tests for International Students

The English-focused Spanish institutions require the following test for overseas students.

1. IELTS – International English Language Testing System

For almost three decades, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) has served as the accepted norm for evaluating non-native speakers’ abilities to communicate in and comprehend both oral and written English. Both the IELTS Academic and the IELTS General Training tests have four parts: speaking, listening, writing, and reading.

Typically, the IELTS Academic is necessary to enroll at a Spanish university. When applying to universities in Spain, where English is a requirement for admission, IELTS scores may be used as proof of a student’s English proficiency.

Speaking assessment may be conducted with the other sections, or up to a week before or after. Exams consist of a listening section, a reading section, and a writing section, and take a total of 2 hours and 40 minutes without breaks.

A minimum band score of 5.5 on the IELTS is necessary to enroll in any undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate course at a university in Spain. A few of the Spanish universities that recognize this test are listed below.

  • Admission to the courses at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) requires an overall IELTS band score of 6 or above.
  • Academic programs at Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M) demand a minimum IELTS score of 5.5.
  • The University of Valencia also uses IELTS band scores as part of its admissions process, with a minimum score of 5.5 required.

2. TOEFL – Test of English as a Foreign Language

When applying to top Spanish universities, taking TOEFL can facilitate the whole process. This test is recognized worldwide because of its verified testing system. It is intended to measure how well a candidate can communicate in an academic setting using standard English.

Therefore, many colleges and institutions in Spain factor in candidates’ TOEFL scores into their acceptance choice. There are four parts to the test: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The upgraded computer-based TOEFL iBT is available as a standard of acceptance in top-tier educational institutes.

It is completed in two hours, with different time frames assigned to all 4 parts. It is often required by the majority of Spanish universities as proof of English competency. For admission into any degree program at a Spanish institution, applicants need a TOEFL iBT score of 99. The following are a few of the Spanish schools that accept this test.

  • The minimum TOEFL iBT score for acceptance to IE University, Spain, is 95 points.
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) accepts a minimum TOEFL score of 78 for its undergraduate courses.

3. Pearson Test of English: (PTE) Academic

PTE is highly regarded and recognized globally among Spanish academic institutions. The PTE Academic exam lasts for three hours, with every part of it holding a different timescale to complete, and is taken on a computer. The PTE test follows a standard structure that is used by all participating universities worldwide.

This is a means to evaluate the candidate’s spoken communication skills, reading comprehension, writing ability, and listening comprehension. A wide range of question types make up the exam’s total of 20 questions. Data is presented in the form of charts, overviews, and snippets. The exam features either native or non-native speakers’ accents.

A PTE-academic minimum test score of 65 is required for admission to all academic programs at a Spanish university. These are just a few of the many Spanish institutions that recognize this exam and welcome international students.

  • Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) requires applicants to have a PTE academic score between 59 and 75 to get enrolled in its Bachelor’s and Master’s courses.
  • University of Granada (UGR) also has a PTE academic score demand of 61 or above to gain admission in one of their advanced courses such as a Master’s degree for international students.

Spanish Language Tests For International Students

Students seeking admission to an institute with a Spanish curriculum and mode of communication should take the following tests.

1. DELE Test: Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera

When it comes to Spanish language tests in Spain for international students, the DELE certifications are widely recognized as the highest possible standard. There are six tiers/levels of the DELE test, each equivalent to a certain CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) classification. The levels are categorized as A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.

Each test level has a different test structure and is divided into 4 sections, reading, listening, writing, and oral. The Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport gives this certificate by means of the Instituto Cervantes, and is valid indefinitely. Each level of the test has various durations for each section, ranging from 2 to 5 hours for the entire test for a single level.

The minimum DELE Test level requires gaining admission to a Spanish educational institute for international students is B1. Some of the Spanish universities that accept the DELE Test are described below.

  • The IE University Spain requires the DELE B1 certificate for entry into both the undergraduate and graduate programs.
  • A DELE certificate at the B1 or C1 level is required for entrance to Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M).
  • The University of Barcelona (UB) recognizes the DELE exam up to level B1 for admission to its Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs.

2. SIELE : Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española

Another Spanish Language Proficiency test required by many universities for admission to top universities is SIELE. The SIELE is broken down into four sections that cover different aspects of the Spanish language, which are reading comprehension (RC), listening comprehension (LC) written expression and interaction (WEI), and oral expression and interaction (OEI).

Participants may choose to take either the whole exam in one go or in individual modes. The whole exam lasts for three hours, including a 15-minute break, and consists of four parts which are taken in the order of RC, LC, WIE, and lastly OEI.

After passing the SIELE Global exam, the candidate will get a certificate that’s been in effect for 5 years and contains test-by-test results, CEFR grade equivalents, and a total score. The minimum and most requested levels required of SIELE for foreign students in Spain universities are B1 and B2. Here are some Spanish universities and their SIELE requirements.

  • Admission to the University of Granada (UGR) requires at least SIELE Level B1, and ideally, B2.

Foreign students who want to study at a reputable Spanish institution must take a language proficiency exam. The higher education institutions in Spain accept a wide range of standardized language proficiency examinations. These include IELTS, TOEFL, and the Cambridge English Advanced, with varied score criteria for admission to Bachelor’s, Master’s, Ph.D., etc. programs. Both the DELE and SIELE exams are recognized as valid measures of Spanish language proficiency.


We hope this article on the language tests needed in Spain for international students was useful in explaining the need for language tests for overseas students. You can also find more information on different European universities and scholarship opportunities on the Europe Scholarships Page!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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