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DSH vs TestDaf: Which Language Proficiency Test is right for you?

Updated: Dec 23, 2023


DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang) and TestDaF (Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache) are both language proficiency tests for non-native speakers of German who want to study at German universities. While they serve similar purposes, there are some differences between the two tests. Here are some key points to consider when choosing between DSH and TestDaF.

DSH vs TestDaf: Which Language Proficiency Test is right for you?
Source: LeverageEdu

DSH (Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang):

1. Institution-Specific:

  • DSH is often specific to individual universities, meaning each university may have its version of the DSH exam.

  • The content and difficulty level of the DSH exam can vary between universities.

  • DSH typically includes an oral examination as part of the test, where candidates must demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively in spoken German.

  • The format of DSH can vary, but it commonly includes two sections: written and oral. The written exam has 75% weightage.

  • There are 3 levels of grades in DSH: DSH-1, DSH-2, DSH-3.

  • Most universities accept DSH-2 and DSH-3 for admissions, while some technical colleges may consider admitting students with a DSH-1 score.

TestDaF (Test Deutsch als Fremdsprache):

1. Standardized Test:

  • TestDaF is a standardized test accepted by most German universities. It is not institution-specific, making it more transferable between universities.

  • TestDaF is divided into three levels (TDN 3, TDN 4, TDN 5), representing different proficiency levels. Universities may have different score requirements for admission.

  • TestDaF consists of four sections: Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking. Each section assesses a specific language skill. 

  • Duration of the test is 3-3.5 hours.

  • TestDaF uses a standardized scoring system, making it easier for universities to compare the language proficiency of candidates.

  • There are 3 levels of grades in TestDad: TDN 3, TDN 4, TDN 5. Students need a minimum score of TDN 4 or above to apply to German universities. TDN 3 is accepted in some technical colleges in Germany.

Choosing Between DSH and TestDaF:

1.University Requirements:

Check the specific language proficiency requirements of the universities you are applying to. Some universities may prefer or require one test over the other.

2. Location:

If you have a specific university in mind, check whether they require DSH or TestDaF. If the university accepts both, you may choose the test that aligns with your strengths.

3. Oral Proficiency:

If you are comfortable with oral communication and your chosen university requires an oral examination, DSH might be a suitable option.

4. Transferability:

If you are considering applying to multiple universities, TestDaF may be a more practical choice due to its standardized nature and wider acceptance.


The choice between DSH and TestDaF depends on your target universities, your comfort with oral examinations, and whether you prefer a standardized test (TestDaF) or an institution-specific one (DSH). It's essential to research the specific requirements of the universities you are interested in and choose the test that aligns with them. 

We know and understand that the application process can be overwhelming, so we are here for you. The study abroad experts at Hello Study Global are there for you every step of the way. From preparing for entrance exams to college applications, we will guide you to success.

Feel free to reach out to us at Hello Study Global.

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