How well do you speak the Portuguese language? You can know your exact level of skills if you take one of the Portuguese proficiency tests like CAPLE, CELPE-Bras, and Telc.
There are many good reasons to learn Portuguese. For some, it’s beautiful places, rich culture, and literature. Others are encouraged by jobs, study or immigration to the Lusophone region, or business opportunities.
With over 275 million speakers across 4 continents, Portuguese is the 6th most widely spoken language. Plus, it’s the official language of the EU, Mercosur, and 9 countries like Angola, Brazil, Mozambique, and Portugal.
Suppose you already speak Portuguese or have been learning it for a while. In that case, you surely want to know how good your language abilities are. If so, the test can determine your Portuguese skills as you work through different levels.
Table of Contents
- What is the Portuguese proficiency test?
- Benefits of the Portuguese language test
- Types of Portuguese language exam
- 1. European Portuguese — CAPLE
- 2. Brazilian Portuguese — Celpe-Bras
- 3. Telc Português B1
- How to prepare for the Portuguese exam?
What is the Portuguese proficiency test?
The Portuguese ability test is a standardized exam for non-native speakers. This is to certify their Portuguese language knowledge.
Candidates take these exams to confirm whether they have the required language skills. And also to earn success in life and measure their communicative skills.
The exam includes language questions from various situations. For example, work-related scenarios, formal and informal language, and accurate translation.
Benefits of the Portuguese language test
The Portuguese language enables you to communicate with Portuguese speakers across the world. As a result, it gives you infinite opportunities to enhance your personal, academic, and professional horizon.
There are many perks of language ability tests.
Passing tests such as CELP-Bras and CAPLE will show your ability as a Portuguese learner. You will also know where you stand and how much knowledge you have already achieved.
Do you want to study, work, or settle in Portugal, Brazil, or Portuguese-speaking nations?
If so, an official Portuguese certificate can add significant value to your application and profile.
You do not need it for a temporary work permit like the Portugal Golden Visa. But if you wish to get citizenship in Portugal, you require CIPLE A2. It is a simple test that assesses your basic understanding of Portuguese.
Do you want to study in an undergraduate or postgraduate program in the Lusophone regions?
Then, you may need CAPLE or CELPE-Bras diploma to prove your Portuguese knowledge to study at various universities. This is not just for Portugal but also for Brazil and other Lusophone regions.
It is not mandatory in most cases. Still, many colleges favor international students who have Portuguese certificates.
Most companies in Brazil and Portugal accept the score and certification as proof of Portuguese competence.
Portuguese is gaining prominence in the business world as an important language on the international stage. And this leads to a growing demand for jobs requiring Portuguese.
Types of Portuguese language exam
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced student, you can check your language ability by taking a Portuguese test.
There are quite a few internationally recognized language tests. The choice will depend on your personal and professional goals.
Of all the options, CAPLE and CELPE-BRAS are the two most widely accepted Portuguese language tests worldwide.
The CAPLE (Centre for Evaluation of Portuguese as a Foreign Language) is based on standard European Portuguese.
CELPE-Bras is a Brazilian certificate of proficiency in Portuguese.
Let’s find out all the details.
1. European Portuguese — CAPLE
Do you wish to study, work or settle in Portugal?
If so, you may need to take CAPLE — Centre for Evaluation of Portuguese as a Foreign Language (Centro de Avaliação de Português Língua Estrangeira).
This test is based on Standard European Portuguese.
The School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Lisbon and the Camões Institute (an organization that promotes the Portuguese language and culture worldwide) manage CAPLE. They administrate on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal.
CAPLE levels follow the guidelines of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (also known as CEF, CEFR, or CEFRL).
The CAPLE comprises five diplomas representing five different levels of skill:
- CIPLE — Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira (Initial Certificate of Portuguese foreign language).
- DEPLE — Diploma Elementar de Português Língua Estrangeira (Elementary Diploma of Portuguese Language).
- DIPLE — Diploma Intermédio de Português Língua Estrangeira (Intermediate Diploma of Portuguese Language).
- DAPLE — Diploma Avançado de Português Língua Estrangeira (Advanced Diploma of Portuguese Language).
- DUPLE — Diploma Universitário de Português Língua Estrangeira (University Diploma of Portuguese Language).
Eligibility and age limit
The standard version is for candidates aged 16 and over, while the school version (ACESSO) is for young people aged 12 to 15. There is also a test for children aged 9 to 11 (TEJO).
Any candidate can take the test if their mother tongue is not Portuguese. Plus, your parents’ first language shouldn’t be Portuguese. And you must not have done primary and secondary education in Portuguese.
CAPLE test centers across the world
As of January 2024, there are around 100 authorized test centers in 35 countries. They conduct the test in collaboration with various educational institutions.
They conduct the CAPLE exams in May, July, and November. In addition to these, they also organize tests in Lisbon in February, March, August, September, and October. You can register online or visit the nearest center.
After 3-4 weeks of examinations, they announce the results. You can find the score and detailed results on the official website of CAPLE. You can log in to your account and access all the information.
They also provide certificates to all successful candidates.
This is a CEFR-based test. Thus, four evaluation parts of all four language abilities are at every level – reading, speaking, writing, and listening.
In addition, another feature called “Competência Estrutural” also appears on only the DIPLE, DAPLE, and DUPLE tests. It involves candidates filling in blanks with the right words, reorganizing the text in various ways, and transforming sentence elements.
The time duration and weightage of each section differ as per level.
The passing score
To pass any CAPLE test, a candidate requires a minimum of 55% marks. There are 4 categories of grading.
Muito Bom (Very Good) — 85% – 100%
Bom (Good) — 70% – 84%
Suficiente (Sufficient) — 55% – 69%
Insuficiente (Insufficient / Fail) — 0% – 54%
2. Brazilian Portuguese — Celpe-Bras
CELPE-Bras is an exam for non-natives who wish to certify their Portuguese knowledge as a foreign language. This is the only test recognized by the Brazilian government as an official Portuguese proficiency test.
Given the recent growth of interest and its unique design as a large-scale proficiency test, this test has become famous worldwide for Portuguese learners.
All candidates take the same test, primarily focusing on a communicative approach.
One can earn one of the 4 grades:
- Intermediate (Intermediário) — You can earn between 2 and 2.75 points. It shows as a moderate-level Brazilian Portuguese speaker.
- Upper-intermediate (Intermediário superior) — You get between 2.76 and 3.5 points. This means you speak well enough in most real-life scenarios.
- Advanced (Avançado) — You obtain between 3.51 and 4.25 points and indicate a fluent speaker.
- Higher Advanced (Avançado superior) — You can get between 4.26 and 5 points. This is like CEFR C2, i.e., a near-native level of fluency.
If you don’t get 2/5, you have failed the test and must retake it to pass.
You’ll need to get the same score on both parts of the exam to get a higher level. Your certificate will be based on your lowest mark if you score higher on oral or written tests.
You can validate your certificate electronically on the CELPE-Bras website.
Test centers around the globe
The Ministry of Education of the Brazilian government organizes the test at several accredited institutions in Brazil. These centers also provide courses for foreigners to prepare for the test.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducts the test in many countries through its local Brazilian Culture Center (Center Cultural Brasileiro) and other places.
As of January 2024, there are dozens of test centers worldwide. Most are in Latin America, though they exist on every continent.
Test format for Brazilian Portuguese Test
The CELPE-Bras evaluates the candidates in two parts — oral and written.
Written part: (3 hours)—There are 4 tasks. The first comprises video, and the second has audio. So, both measure listening abilities. The third and fourth cover reading and writing skills.
Oral part: (20 minutes) — This is a face-to-face test with an examiner. They ask questions about topics not known in advance.
In 20 minutes, the oral component takes the form of a face-to-face conversation with an examiner, which is audio recorded.
Dates and how to register for CELPE-Bras?
They organize the CELPE-Bras twice a year, usually in April and October. The dates may vary, so it would be best to check the nearest test center where you intend to take the exam.
Registration for this exam starts 2 months in advance. So, for example, apply in early February for the April test.
Besides visiting the testing center, you can apply online via the official website.
Fill out the application form, along with a copy of your identification (passport or photo ID), and pay the fee. The minimum age is 16 years.
The fee for CELPE-Bras in Brazil is 200 BRL. Outside of Brazil, the price varies but is approximately 100 USD.
3. Telc Português B1
Telc stands for European language certificates. They conduct several tests in 10 European languages in over 3,000 test centers in 20 nations.
Do you already speak intermediate-level Portuguese?
If so, you can consider telc Português B1. Anyone can take this test, and it covers general Portuguese language ability.
Telc offers a variety of levels. But for Portuguese, only B1 is available.
Structure of the exam
The test comprises an oral and a written section.
The written exam lasts for 150 minutes.
This includes 90 minutes for reading comprehension and language sections (grammar and vocabulary). There are also 30 minutes each for listening comprehension and writing.
The oral exam has 20 minutes of preparation time. Then, they can take the speaking test on the same day or another day.
You can check the practice material (mock test and listening exercise) on the site. This includes a complete question paper and its answers.
How to prepare for the Portuguese exam?
Portuguese is a somewhat easy language. Still, if you aren’t prepared well, passing CAPLE or CELPE-Bras with flying colors would be challenging.
There are tons of websites, books, and apps. You can also watch some of the best movies for learning Portuguese.
Despite the availability of so many resources, the best way to learn Portuguese is to study with a specialized tutor.
You can also enroll in a learning institute that offers Portuguese classes near you. They will help you become familiar with the language and exam structure.