CILS Due B2 Exam: The Structure

The CILS Due B2 is an official language exam issued by the University for Foreigners in Siena, Italy, to prove to the Italian government, an Italian university institution, or an employer in Italy a B2 (upper-intermediate) level of competence in the Italian language. 

What does “B2” stand for? 

A B2 level of competency (according to the Common European Framework of Reference, or CEFR) means that you can understand the essence of complex Italian texts and interact with native speakers with a certain level of fluency without being too much of a burden for them. An upper-intermediate Italian speaker should also produce texts and speak about a wide range of subjects (history, the news, politics, culture, and society) while providing his viewpoint. 

The CILS B2 exam evaluates the student’s competencies in listening, reading, speaking, and writing Italian at an upper-intermediate level and will attest that you have an upper-intermediate command of the Italian language.

B2 Grammar Topics

You should have a solid background in upper-intermediate Italian grammar. In other words, you should have already reached a B2 level (Italian level B1 is the third level of Italian in the Common European Framework of Reference).

The CILS B2 focuses on:

Italian Grammar TopicsDescription
Double Object PronounsPronouns like “me lo,” “te lo,” “glielo,” etc., used to replace both direct and indirect objects in Italian sentences.
Simple and Compound FutureTwo future tenses used to express actions or events that will happen in the future.
Simple and Compound ConditionalTwo conditional tenses used to express hypothetical or uncertain actions or events.
Subjunctive Moods (Congiuntivo Presente, Passato, Imperfetto e Trapassato)Mood used to convey doubt, uncertainty, desires, or subjective opinions. Different forms are used depending on the context.
Consecutio Temporum (Consistency of Italian Tenses)Ensuring the correct use of verb tenses in relation to each other within a sentence for logical consistency.
Italian ConnectorsWords or phrases like “anche se,” “sebbene,” “a,” “quindi,” “a condizione che,” etc., used to link different parts of a sentence or express relationships between ideas.
Particles “Ne” and “Ci”Versatile particles that can replace various elements in a sentence, such as quantities, places, or objects, making sentences more concise.
Imperative MoodMood used to give commands, suggestions, or instructions in Italian. It expresses direct requests or orders.
Periodo Ipotetico (If Clauses)
Expressing hypothetical situations or conditions in Italian using conditional tenses and subjunctive moods.
B2 exam grammar topics (Italian)

How is CILS B2 structured? 

The CILS B2 exam consists of five sections and lasts 3.45h.

The entire test will last about 3 hours 45 minutes, with a 15-minute break before the writing part. 

Exam SectionsDuration
Test di ascolto – listening comprehension30 minutes
Test di comprensione della lettura – reading comprehension50 minutes
Test di analisi delle strutture di comunicazione – grammar and vocabulary1 hour
Test di produzione scritta – writing production1 hour and 10 minutes
Test di produzione orale – speaking practiceAround 10 minutes

The test di ascolto (listening part) comprises one dictation and two listening tracks. Both listening tracks are usually radio interviews, and you will need to complete multiple-choice questionnaires at the end of both audios. The dictation will require you to write down what your examiner will dictate to the examinees.

The test di comprensione alla lettura (reading part) consists of three reading exercises with texts to read and fill in the gaps exercises. You will have 50 minutes to complete the reading task.

The test di analisi delle strutture di comunicazione (grammar and vocabulary part) consists of four assignments and lasts one hour. In the first two tasks, you’ll have to prove you’ve reached an upper-intermediate grammar level, and the other two are vocabulary-based.

The test di produzione scritta (writing part) will last 70 minutes and consists of two writing assignments. You will most likely need to write about:

  1. A specific event concerning your life in “prova 1”. 
  2. An email (to an Italian office) to ask for information in “prova 2”.

Prova 1 should be 140 words long.

Prova 2 should be 70-80 words long.

Example of writing assignments for the CILS Due B2

  1. Racconta come hai conosciuto un amico/un’amica o una persona che ti è vicina. Devi scrivere da 120 a 140 parole.
  2. Racconta come hai conosciuto un amico/un’amica o una persona che ti è vicina. Devi scrivere da 120 a 140 parole.

The produzione orale is the speaking part and will last about 10-12 minutes. Your Italian speaking exam will be recorded. The test is divided into two sections.  In the first section, you will be presented with four different topics. You pick one of your preferences and briefly discuss it with your examiner.  In the second section, you will be presented with four topics or visual prompts, and you will need to produce a brief presentation about your chosen topic or image. While the first part will involve questions and prompts from the examiner’s side, the second part will not.

An example of speaking prompts for the CILS Due B2

  • E-book: vantaggi e svantaggi
  • L’università oggi: perché è necessaria per puntare sul futuro
  • Parla di un personaggio della storia che ti appassiona 
  • Parla di un film o un libro italiano che ti sta a cuore
  • Descrivi l’immagine X

Is a B2 Italian language test worth taking?

Most of my students learn Italian out of love for my country or to reconnect with their Italian heritage. Learning a language as an adult or outside of a formal setting is a beautiful and rewarding journey, but sometimes it lacks structure or a sense of direction because of its informal setting. 

This is why I recommend sitting for an Italian official test to all those students that

  1. are serious about reaching actual fluency in Italian: committing to an official language certificate will eventually lead you to fluency because you will be “forced” to study all the four aspects of language competencies. Your Italian study time won’t be just about speaking, but also writing and listening. 
  2. need a motivation boost for their learning journey or to step out of their learning plateau.
  3. What better way to spend your vacation in Italy than by taking the test at the evaluation center in your favorite Italian city?

How long does it take to prepare for the CILS Due B2?

That depends on your starting point. If your level is intermediate, you might need an extra six to twelve months to cover the upper-intermediate level. If you are just at the edge of B2, you might need just a quick fix and work many hours on the exam examples. 

How can I take the CILS Due B2 exam?

You can sit for the exam virtually worldwide at any accredited Italian Language Center in the world or in Italy. Every year, there are three sessions in Italy and two in the rest of the world. You should sign up and pay for the exam with at least one month’s notice.  The cost of the CILS Uno B2 is around 120 euros/130 dollars. It may cost slightly more depending on your chosen center for the exam.

CILS Examinations Centers around the world

You should also know that

If you pass just two sections out of five, let’s say test di ascolto and di produzione orale, on your next exam, you will need to complete just the other three, and the cost of the whole exam will be reduced. 

Helpful prep textbooks to help you get in good shape for the CILS Due B2 test.

If you are curious about what a real exam looks like, you should download this sample test here and try to complete it on your own. If you are serious about getting your Italian certification or need to pass it for work or study purposes, I recommend using the below prep books for the CILS Due B2 test.

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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