DELE & SIELE: 6 Main Differences In The Spanish Language Exams

siele, dele, levels

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Today I am going to share with you the main differences between DELE and SIELE exams, both to officially certify your level in the language but with different characteristics, durations and prices. Besides that, I am going to explain to you the different Spanish proficiency levels that are considered and what skills you have to fulfill to get into one or another class.

Even though the decision to take DELE or SIELE is up to you, I have always recommended to my students to choose the type of certification they need depending on their personal goals, whether they are applying for visas, universities or jobs abroad.

I hope that after reading this information you will have a better idea of which exam best suits your needs.


What Are The Spanish Language Levels?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR) is a European standard, also used in other regions, which serves to measure the level of understanding in a given language, and has classified the acquisition of languages into three main levels: the initial which are named with the letter A, the intermediate levels with the letter B and the advanced levels with the letter C.

Each of the levels is classified according to the acquisition or not of certain skills and abilities in the language, meaning that it is not only a matter of understanding the words, it is a little more complex than that.

The skills and abilities considered important to perform well in a language are four: reading, writing, speaking, and listening, and each level has different objectives in relation to the skills. This information is quite extensive but very interesting, so if you want to find out in detail about all this, you can see here the last update (2020) published by the CEFR.

SIELE, DELE, levels

Description Of Each Spanish Language Level

Level A1 Spanish

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases in order to satisfy specific needs. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows, and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

Level A2 Spanish

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in a simple way and perform routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment, and matters in areas of immediate basic need.

Level B1 Spanish

Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst traveling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected texts on topics that are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes, and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

Level B2 Spanish

Can understand the main ideas of a complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialization. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without any strain for either party. Can produce a clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint from a topical issue giving the advantages and Independent disadvantages of various options.

Level C1 Spanish

Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes. Can produce a clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors, and cohesive devices.

Level C2 Spanish

Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently, and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning, even in more complex situations.

Source: Council of Europe

How Do I Find Out My Spanish Level?

Usually, most Spanish schools offer online tests in which you can know your level of Spanish very close, these tests are usually quite accurate and you can have the results at the moment you finish the questions. One of the online tests I find most reliable is the Oxford House BCN, it has a total of 50 questions and you get the results immediately.

Despite this, as a language teacher and student, I believe that the best option to really learn your level of Spanish is with an official exam, in which you will have to check the four skills (listening, speaking, writing, and reading) with different tests. The two internationally known and accepted exams are DELE and SIELE.


The DELE is a certificate issued by the Instituto Cervantes on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport of Spain, to measure the degree of competence or proficiency of a Spanish speaker according to the European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the Manual for Relating Exams.

The DELE certificate covers all CEFR levels: level A1, level A2, level B1, level B2, level C1, and level C2. In Spain, DELE diplomas are recognized by national, regional, and local institutions, such as Ministerio de Justicia de España y Ministerio de Sanidad, as well as many Universities in the Hispanic countries. 

Where can I take this exam?

DELE exams can be taken in different parts of the world, and do not necessarily have to be in Spanish-speaking countries. There are more than 1000 test centers in more than 100 countries, although not all centers offer the exam at any given time. Check the different centers here.

How much does it cost?

The registration fee for the DELE exams depends on your level of Spanish, as you have to register for the level you want to pass. It will also vary depending on the country in which you register. Each candidate should check beforehand the price of the chosen diploma.

How do I register?

Registration for the exams must be processed through the means provided by the Instituto Cervantes within the established deadlines. There are two ways to register for the DELE exam: 1. Online, in the case of candidates in Spain (for all levels except school). 2. At each examination center, in the case of DELE exams outside Spain.

What kind of preparation material is available to prepare for the exam?

The Instituto Cervantes provides DELE candidates with guides that include basic information on the description and administration of the DELE exams. Consult the material here.


This exam was created by the UNAM, the University of Buenos Aires, the University of Salamanca, and the Cervantes Institute. It is a Pan-Hispanic exam and incorporates the different linguistic variables of Spanish. Unlike the DELE, you can register for the exam online, choose the day of the test, and shortly after the test you will receive your results. In SIELE everything is managed electronically (registration, booking, communications).

They also offer different types of test modalities, you can choose between the most complete SIELE Global or any of the 5 independent modalities in which only two specific tests are selected.

How do I register?

Select the test modality you wish to take (SIELE Global or any of the 5 independent modalities), then simply select the country, the date, and the test center.

When do I receive the results?

Within a maximum of three weeks, you will be able to download your results from the same platform that SIELE gives you. Here you can also find more information on how to take the exam.

6 Main Differences

Here you have table with the main differences between these two exams.

A multilevel test and four integrated examinationsOne test for each level from A1 to C2
Valid for five yearsIt is valid forever
You can choose between different modalities; general and specific (each with different prices).You have to do all four parts of the exam: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
You can choose the day and time you wantYou have no flexibility to choose the day and the hour
You have to wait three weeks to receive your resultsYou have to wait a few months for the results.
It is more expensive than the first levels of DELE (prices vary according to the country)The prices depend on the level and the country (It is cheaper on levels A1 and A2)

I hope you find this information useful and don’t forget to leave me your questions in the comments or share this information with someone who might need it.

See you in the next post!

About The Author


Giane was born and raised in Chile, except for the time she moved to Spain and attended university there. She studied Education and Psychology at the University of Barcelona. She started teaching Spanish when she decided to travel around Europe, since then she has not stopped teaching languages.

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