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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Language Centre

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Language Centre | Exams and Proficiency Tests | DSH | Information on the German language examination

Information on the German language examination

Entrance examination for foreign applicants to institutions of higher education in Germany

The purpose of this exam is for you to demonstrate that you meet all prerequisites, both as regards the general use of German and in the area of general academic German, to embark on a degree course at the Humboldt-Universität.

The DSH consists of a written and an oral exam. The written exam has three components: listening; reading and academic sentence structures; and writing on set topics. All written exams take place on the same day statt.

If a student fails the oral exam or one of the components of the written exam (i.e. that the result for this exam remains below 57%), the exam as a whole will be considered a fail.


Written Examination

(The order of the exam components may vary)

  1. Listening

    You will hear a text twice and are allowed to take notes whilst listening. To some texts a word list is added.

    The listening test may include a variety of elements, such as reproducing an argument, answering questions, reproducing a text, or a combination of these.

    Duration: approx. 60 minutes

  2. Reading

    You will be given a text to read. Your understanding will be tested by your answering questions on the content of the text (summarising, structuring etc.).

    In addition to the text, you will be given questions to examine your knowledge of grammar.

    Duration: 90 minutes

  3. Writing on set topics

    You will be given three topics to choose from, and write about one of these. In terms of subject matter the topics may be in line with other parts of the exam.

    You are expected to write a minimum of 200 words on the topic of your choice. Your written text will be assessed on content and linguistic performance.

    Duration: 60 minutes

The use of dictionaries is permitted for all exam components, but no other linguistic aids are allowed. The exam papers as well as note paper will be supplied by the teaching staff conducting the exam. Please use a biro or fountain pen, as any work written in pencil will not be assessed and be considered a fail.


Oral Examination

As a rule, the oral examination takes place a week after the written exam. The date for your oral examination will be posted on the notice board at the Language Centre of Humboldt-Universität.

From three suggested topics you may choose one to give a short talk on, followed by a discussion on the topic.

You are given 20 minutes to prepare the exam, which is followed by a 20-minute exam.
You will be informed about the result of the oral examination immediately after the exam.

The exam levels are:

  • DSH-1 if at least 57% of the requirements were fulfilled in both the written and in the oral exam,
  • DSH-2 if at least 67% of the requirements were fulfilled in both the written and in the oral exam,
  • DSH-3 if at least 82% of the requirements were fulfilled in both the written and in the oral exam.

A certificate is drawn up, which lists the achieved results in detail. You will be notified about the overall result immediately.

You can inspect your assessed exam papers in the Department of German as a Foreign Language at set times. The assessment key for the relevant exam is available for inspection as well.

Good luck with the DSH and your studies!