University of Heidelberg

German Language Examination for University Entrance ("Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang" / "DSH")

Overview

  1. What do I need the DSH for?
  2. How can I take the DSH at Heidelberg University?
  3. What is the examination format?
  4. How is the examination graded?
  5. When does the DSH take place at Heidelberg University?
  6. How much does it cost to take the DSH at Heidelberg University?

1. What do I need the DSH for?

If you are planning to study at a German university, you usually have to present an official proof of high German language proficiency. The "German Language Examination for University Entrance" ("Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang", "DSH") is one way of providing such proof. The DSH is composed of a written and an oral exam. If you pass both exams, you will obtain a DSH certificate ("DSH-Zeugnis®"), which you can use to apply for a place on a degree programme. For more detailed information →see below.

You do not need the DSH,

  • if you already have a German language certificate recognised as equivalent to the DSH. For official information, please contact the university you want to study at.
  • if you have to attend a →Studienkolleg before starting a degree programme at a German university. In this case, you will not take the DSH, but the →Assessment Examination ("Feststellungsprüfung", "FSP") German while attending the Studienkolleg. At Heidelberg University, this examination is identical to the DSH in terms of scope, format, and content. Our German language courses at the →Kolleg für deutsche Sprache und Kultur can prepare you for both the DSH and the German language requirements of the Studienkolleg.
  • if you need a proof of your German language proficiency not in order to go to university but to get a job or for other purposes. In such cases, other certificates will be relevant, and we advise you to contact a private language school. For a list of language schools in Heidelberg, please click here (without claim of completeness or correctness).
  • if you are planning to study at a German university as an international exchange student (e.g. via ERASMUS), i.e. only for a limited period of time and without completing a degree here.

More information:

 

2. How can I take the DSH at Heidelberg University?

The DSH can be taken with and without a preceding German language course at the Kolleg für deutsche Sprache und Kultur:

(A) DSH with a preceding German language course:
(B) DSH without a preceding German language course:

You apply

either

directly with us at the International Study Centre for a place on the German language courses at the Kolleg für deutsche Sprache und Kultur (KSK)

or

with Heidelberg University for a place on an undergraduate degree programme (e.g. medicine, history, ...) with a preceding German language course at the KSK.
You apply with Heidelberg University for a place on a degree programme (e.g. medicine, history, ...)
If you apply successfully, you may attend our German courses. Having reached the necessary language proficiency in the courses, you then may take the DSH. Typically this will require you to have completed the advanced level course (CEFR C1).

If Heidelberg University grants you admission to the degree programme of your choice, you can take the DSH immediately before the start of the lecture period.

All information on the German language courses at the KSK and the application procedure is available →here. For more information and important notes provided by Heidelberg University, please go →here.
 

Please note:

  • If you have neither attended our German language courses (A) nor been admitted to a degree programme (B), you cannot take the DSH at Heidelberg University.

3. What is the examination format?

The DSH is composed of a written and an oral examination. The two examinations take place on different days; the written is followed by the oral examination.

1. Written Examination
  Please note:
  • In the written examination, you may use a monolingual (German-German) dictionary. Bilingual/translation dictionaries are, however, not allowed.
  1.1 Listening Comprehension
Time allowed: 50 minutes
Tasks: You are expected to demonstrate your ability to follow an academic lecture, take notes, and process the given information. The tasks may include true/false questions, matching tasks, questions on the text as a whole and individual passages in it, reproductions or summaries of the text content, etc. The transcript is read aloud twice and does not require subject-specific knowledge.
Sample Exam (PDF file)
  1.2 and 1.3. Reading Comprehension and Structures of Academic Language
Time allowed: 60 minutes + 30 minutes = 90 minutes
Tasks: You are expected to demonstrate your ability to understand and deal with not overly specialised academic prose. The tasks may include questions on the context of the text, the explanation of passages in the text, the presentation of the (argumentative) structure of the text, true/false questions, finding suitable headlines, matching tasks, etc. The tasks dealing with structures of academic language require you to identify, comprehend, and use linguistic structures that are common to scientific literature. They deal with peculiarities of the text (e.g. in terms of syntax, derivational morphology, vocabulary, idioms, text genre) and may include gap-fill tasks, questions on the comprehension of complex structures, and various types of transformation tasks (paraphrases, structure transformations), etc.
Sample Exam (PDF file)
  1.4 Writing
Time allowed: 70 minutes
Tasks: You are given the opportunity to express yourself independently and coherently about a study-oriented, academic topic. The text to be composed may have features of a description, comparison, and/or commentary. It may be based on an illustration, graph, diagram, keyword list, or quote.
Sample Exam (PDF file)
2. Oral Examination
  Please note:
  • Students who have not passed the written exam cannot take the oral exam. In this case, the entire DSH is graded as not passed.
  • You may be exempted from the oral exam if there is sufficient other proof of your oral communication skills. This may be applicable in particular to DSH candidates who have attended the German language courses at the KSK before.
 

Time: up to 20 minutes preparation time + up to 20 minutes examination talk = approx. 40 minutes
Tasks: In the oral exam, you have to demonstrate your ability to spontaneously, fluently, and appropriately perform and process speech acts that are relevant at university (e.g. to discuss, assess, exemplify, inform, ...) and, moreover, to deal with relevant strategies of interaction (e.g. turn taking, cooperating, asking for clarification ...).


4. How is the examination graded?

Your scores in the individual parts of the written examination are weighed as follows:

1. Listening Comprehension: x 2
2. Reading Comprehension: x 2
3. Structures of Academic Language: x 1
4. Writing: x 2

Your scores in both the written and the oral exams are measured as percentages (%) of the respective maximum scores. To pass the DSH, you have to achieve at least 57% in each of the two examinations.

Depending on your score, you can pass the DSH at 3 different levels. You will receive a DSH certificate for

level DSH-1, if you score at least 57% in both the written and the oral exams;
level DSH-2, if you score at least 67% in both the written and the oral exams;
level DSH-3, if you score at least 82% in both the written and the oral exams.

 

Please note:

  • The DSH level / percentage score you need to start the degree programme of your choice depends on the programme and may vary across universities. In most cases, the minimum score required for level DSH-2 will be sufficient.
    A higher score (i.e. above the DSH-2 minimum or even DSH-3) may be necessary in particular for programmes such as German Language and Literature ("Germanistik", "Deutsche Philologie"), German as a Foreign Language ("Deutsch als Fremdsprache", "Germanistik im Kulturvergleich"), Conference Interpreting, or Law ("Rechtswissenschaft", "Jura").
    Level DSH-1 is typically not sufficient to start a degree programme that is taught in German.
    For definite information, please contact the university you want to study at. For more information →Heidelberg UniversityQuery via sprachnachweis.de.
  • If you do not achieve the required score, you cannot start the desired degree programme. If, however, you have applied for a degree programme at Heidelberg University and received a letter of admission which does not state as a condition that you must pass the DSH (without requirement "DSH muss bestanden werden"), you may take a →placement test and join the →German language courses at the Kolleg für deutsche Sprache und Kultur, after whose completion you can take the DSH again.
  • Heidelberg University allows candidates to take the DSH more than once.

5. When does the DSH take place at Heidelberg University?

    (A) DSH with preceding German language course: (B) DSH without preceding German language course:


Summer Semester
towards the end of the lecture period:
i.e. beginning / mid-July

current dates
before the start of the lecture period:
i.e. end of September / beginning of October

current dates


Winter Semester
towards the end of the lecture period:
i.e. beginning / mid-February

current dates
before the start of the lecture period:
i.e. end of March / beginning of April

current dates

6. How much does it cost to take the DSH at Heidelberg University?

At Heidelberg University, students taking the DSH are charged €100.00. You have to pay the complete fee in person and in cash when taking the exam.

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