Cils A2 Exam: A Comprehensive Guide to Help You Succeed

There are different levels of language certifications for Italian speakers. One can choose between an beginner (A1), advanced beginner/elementary (A2), lower-intermediate (B1), intermediate (B2), advanced (C1) or a mastery level (C2).

The most known certifications for Italian are the Cils (issued by University for Foreigners of Siena), the Celi (issued by the University for Foreigners of Perugia) and the Plida (issued by the Dante Alighieri Institutions)

In this post, I’ll delve into the structure of the Cils A2 and share some tips and tricks on how succeed at the exam.

What does ‘A2’ mean?

What does “A2” mean? The second level of the CEFR is Italian level A2 (Common European Framework of Reference). This level is referred to as “elementary” and “makes the foundation of the language” when combined with the A1 level. Students should be able to communicate simple needs on everyday, routine topics at this level and should have a firm grasp of the fundamentals of Italian grammar and vocabulary. They also should be able to speak in simple terms and with simple grammar about their background (e.g., their interests, work, and family).

How to Prepare for the Cils A2

To reach an A2 level of Italian, other than mastering the basics of Italian at the A1 level (check here), you should go over and learn the Italian grammar and vocabulary required at this level. You can do so by enrolling in language classes, hiring a private tutor, and signing up for a self-paced course. Don’t forget that, it’s an essential part of your preparation to train all four competencies of language learning, which are reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The CIL-A2 is, in fact, split into different tasks, each one tackling one of these competencies.

My recommended tools to work on or brush up on your A2 Italian level are:

New Italian Espresso (student book + workbook) for beginners and lower intermediate learnersThis is a thorough textbook that will take students from the beginner level (A1) to a solid pre-intermediate level (A2+). This method is one of the best on the market as it lays out a clear itinerary combing all the different competencies of language learning (reading, grammar, listening, writing, and speaking) . It works best when used in conjunction with a teacher, but will be useful for independent learners as well. It’s a built-in digital version where you can access audio, dialogues, videos, and grammar exercises, of course.

Rocket Language Italian is a great self-paced learning method at a reasonable price if you don’t have the time or budget to commit to in-person live training. Find my review here.

Use easy Italian readers with slow audio to cement your grammar, vocabulary, and sentence-building abilities. All my short stories in Italian are designed with A1-A2 Italian learners in mind. Have a look here

Use Italki or Preply to find affordable tutors who can hold you accountable, provide feedback, and monitor your progress toward the exam.

Get a solid grammar book, like Easy Italian Step by Step, to use as a reference and keep the foundations in mind.

How long does it take to learn Italian at an A2 Level? 

It takes roughly 150 hours to go from the A1 level to the A2 level. However, because time is relative, the quality of the time you spend with your language rather than the quantity will determine your success as a student. I believe the best way to go is to make sure to use the appropriate A2 level learning content, follow the A2 learning itinerary, and eventually work on the A2 prep books, like this one.

A2 Grammar Topics

The Present Progressive
Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns
The Impersonal Form -si
Indefinite Adjectives (nessuno, niente, ogni, etc.)
Articulated Prepositions
The Imperfect Tense
Difference in the Usage of Passato Prossimo, Prossimo, and Imperfetto
The Imperative Form
The Future Tense
The Conditional Form
The Particle “ci”
Reflexive Verbs with Passato Prossimo and Other Verbal Forms

How is the Cils A2 exam structured?

The exam is split into five sections and will last around two hours.

Exam SectionDescriptionDuration
Listening Comprehension (Test di Ascolto)First section, 2-3 tasks, around 20 minutesApproximately 20 minutes
Reading Comprehension (Test di Comprensione della Lettura)Three parts, various tasks, 40 minutesApproximately 40 minutes
Grammar and Vocabulary Section (Test di Analisi delle Strutture di Comunicazione)Three fill-in-the-blank texts, 40 minutesApproximately 40 minutes
Writing Production* (Test di Scrittura)Two writing prompts, varying word count, 40 minutesApproximately 40 minutes
Speaking Part (Produzione Orale)Divided into two parts, 5-10 minutes (Self-introduction and questions + Topic selection and description)Approximately 5-10 minutes
CILS A2 tasks + duration

Examples of prompts for the ‘test di scrittura (writing production)’. You should choose only one prompt to write about.

Prompt n. 1: Descrivi la città in cui vivi. Devi scrivere da 40 a 60 parole. 

Prompt n. 2: Questa settimana sei molto impegnato e non hai tempo di fare la spesa. Scrivi al tuo amico che vive con te di andare al supermercato. Nel messaggio devi:

  • dire che non puoi fare la spesa e perché;
  • scrivere la lista dei prodotti che ti servono;
  • dire che la prossima settimana puoi andare tu.

Examples of prompts for the ‘produzione orale (speaking part)’

First part (2–3 minutes)

You’ll be invited to introduce yourself by answering the following questions:  You’ll start out the conversation, but the examiner will jump in and prompt you with other questions.

  • Come ti chiami?
  • Quanti anni hai?
  • Dove abiti?
  • Studi o lavori?
  • Usi spesso il cellulare?
  • Per cosa lo usi?

Second part (2 to 4 minutes)

The examiner will ask you to choose one of the topics and will ask you to speak on your own or ask you to describe a photo.

Cils A2 exam samples 

Working on exam samples or prep textbooks will be a crucial component of your preparation course because it will help you familiarize yourself with the exam structure and the timing for each task.

If you’ve never taken an exam before, the format may seem a little intimidating. For instance, you’ll have to write your response on a separate page at the end of the booklet rather than the same page as the prompt. However, working on the A2 sample will undoubtedly get you prepared for the exam day! 

In order to practice on an exam sample, you should get the official preparation textbooks or search Google for previous exam samples, like this one.

The CILS A2 integrazione (CILS A2 for integration) 

A separate note goes to the CILS A2 integrazione 

What is the Cils Integrazione?

It’s a certification that foreigners residing in Italy must pass in order to apply for a residence permit, known as a “permesso di soggiorno.”

The certification will prove your A2 (elementary) proficiency in written and oral Italian. 

Is the CILS A2 integration any different from the regular A2 test?

Yes, it’s a little shorter and touches on routine topics a foreign resident in Italy might encounter along the way. 

You can sign up for the test in Italy at one of the many accredited CILS centers.

Dates and Exam Centers 

The Cils exams are offered at accredited language institutions in Italy and abroad. 

Visit this link to find a location near you and learn when the exam for your level will be held.

CILS A2 prep courses

We only have limited number of one-to-one exam prep classes available. You can find all the necessary information on this page.

About the Author

Serena Capilli

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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Ciao, I'm Serena!

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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