The Goethe-Institut has developed a series of exams for learners of German as a foreign language (Deutsch als Fremdsprache, DaF) at all levels: A1 up to C2. These can be taken both in Germany and abroad, and have been adapted to fit into the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF), the standard for European language testing. There is also one exam, the Großes Deutsches Sprachdiplom, which is at a higher level than the highest CEF level. Below is a table of the basic Goethe-Institut exams as they fit into the scheme: 

CEF level

Goethe-Institut exam

Instructional Hours Needed


Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung,
Kleines Deutsches Sprachdiplom

750-900 (both)


Goethe-Zertifikat C1 - Zentrale Mittelstufenprüfung (neu),
Prüfung Wirtschaftsdeutsch

600-750 (both)


Zertifikat Deutsch für den Beruf,
Goethe-Zertifikat B2

375-540 (ZDfB),
450-600 (GZ B2)


Zertifikat Deutsch



Start Deutsch 2



Start Deutsch 1


In 2000, the Goethe-Institut also helped to found the Society for Academic Test Development (Gesellschaft für Akademische Testentwicklung e.V.). The resulting TestDaF exams are run by the TestDaF-Institut in Hagen. The tests are supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and are aimed at people who would like to study at German universities, academics and scientists. The TestDaF can be taken in Germany as well as in 65 countries worldwide.