Why getting an Italian Language Certification is a great idea and how to do it

If you are a big fan of the lingua di Dante and you have already achieved a certain level of Italian, you might want to prove your worth or, maybe, set yourself a higher goal to keep you motivation strong. In both cases, validating your Italian language skills through an Italian language certification does not sound that bad!

Let’s start from the crucial question…

Why taking an Italian Certification is a great idea?

1 .Preparing for a test is a great motivator to continue to learn Italian consistently. Setting a goal will help you to gain a purpose.

2. Mixing business with pleasure:  you can get your Italian Language Certification in many countries worldwide and Italy. What if you travel to the Bel Paese to sit for the exam? They take place regularly in many Italian cities, North to South.

3. You stand out in a crowd. You can use your official Italian Language Certification on your CV. A language certification is, in fact, an excellent tool to broaden your resumé and demonstrate your level of Italian. Besides, it will come in handy if you decide to study, work or reside in Italy at some point in your life.  

4. Maybe your grandparents or great grandparents were Italian, perhaps your spouse is Italian too, and you want to apply to get the Italian dual citizenship. As for December 2018, to obtain Italian citizenship, one needs to take an Italian language exam that attesting, at least, a B1 Italian language proficiency.

5. You fill the gaps. Preparing for an Italian proficiency test is the best way to tune up the whole four skills of Italian language learning: reading, speaking, listening, writing. There is always a silver lining!

6. Challenge yourself. You are not in school anymore, taking a test, without the stress that real school exams involve, can be fun. Take a chance to prove yourself. Language learning is the best brain gym, after all , isn’t it?

Once you are motivated enough, you might wonder…

What are the Italian proficiency tests like?

There are several Italian language certifications, which are issued by universities, cultural institutions and certified language schools in Italy and worldwide. The most known and used ones are the CELI (Italian Certification as a Foreign Language) and CILS (Certification of Italian as a Foreign Language). Both differ a lot depending on which level exam you are sitting for. However, all of them have a very similar format.

Each of the tests consists of four different areas of Italian language learning and you will be given a specified amount of time to complete every single part.

  • reading comprehension
  • listening comprehension
  • writing expression
  • oral expression

If you make up your mind and decide to take the test, you should figure out…

How to sign up for the exams?

You should sign up as soon as possible and at latest, within one month from the exam. Tests take places regularly, but not very often. The timing, usually, depends on the level of the certification and the center. Preparing with a large advance is a good idea. Before sitting for the exam, you should, in order, take the following steps:

  • Choose your examination center (in Italy or abroad)
  • Choose a date
  • Register online
  • Pay for a registration fee (prices vary depending on the country)
  • Buy a preparation book or sign up for a preparation course

How to prepare for the exams?

Luckily, there is a wealth of practice material available online, to get familiar with the format of the tests. Besides self-study, you could get help from an online private tutor or join a precaution course at an Italian language center. Use mock tests, which you can easily find online, or preparation material. All the exams are doable if you have the correct level. Nevertheless, knowing how to deal with the format of the exams is crucial.

What level to choose?

What level to choose depends on your goal. If you need an Italian Language Certification to access university in Italy, you will need a B2 or C1. If you have an excellent command of the language, maybe you want to take your chance and try the C1 or C2. If you are a beginner learner and you want to take an examination to set yourself a goal to work towards, you can sign up for an A1 or A2.

The CELI and the CILS in depths


The CELI was created and is issued by the University of Perugia for Foreigners. The exams take places in three annual sections (spring, summer, fall) at the same university and regularly, at certified institutions or language schools, worldwide.

The CELI consists of three different modules:

  • CELI (the traditional one, intended for educated adults)
  • CELI for immigrants (intended for foreign citizens who immigrated to Italy and is also available for students with very little education)
  • CELI for teens (intended for youngsters aged between 13 and 17)

The CELI comprises of six levels, adapted to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

  • CELI IMPATTO – level A1
  • CELI 1 – level A2
  • CELI 2 – level B1
  • CELI 3 – level B2
  • CELI 4 – level C1
  • CELI 5 – level 2

You should know that…

The Italian Ministry of Education recognizes the CELI 3 as a valid Italian Language Certification to study at University in Italy, alongside with CELI 4 and CELI 5.

The CELI exams are made out of 4 to 5 sections (depending on test level) and cover the four skills of Italian language learning (reading, listening, speaking, writing). The test comprises of multiple-choice answers, complete the gaps tests, conversation and writing.

Click here to read all about the specifics of the CELI exam


THE CILS was created and issued by the University of Siena for Foreigners. The exams take places twice a year (June and December) in Italy and various accredited centers and universities, worldwide.

The CILS comprises of six levels of increasing difficulty, recognizing various levels of Italian language proficiency. As the CELI, the CILS is designed to test students’ ability to listen to and express themselves in Italian.  

The CILS is the Italian Proficiency examination with the longest tradition (dating back to 1588) and is a valid worldwide.

It consists of four different modules: the children module, the adolescent module, the module for integration in Italy, the adult module.

  • CILS A1
  • CILS A2
  • CILS 1 – level B1
  • CILS 2 – level B2
  • CILS 3 – level C1
  • CILS 4 – level C2

You should know that…

The Italian Ministry of Education recognizes the CILS 2, as a valid Italian Language Certification to study at University in Italy, without the usual mandatory language assessment.

The test consist of four sections (oral, written, morphosyntactic and lexical competence, comprehension of written texts, comprehension of oral texts). The format of the exam comes into the shape of multiple choice questions, re-elaboration of texts starting from some given elements and free development of a topic.

Each part of the exam is evaluated independently: hence, to pass the test you need to succeed in each of the four sections. If you fail in one or more parts, you can retake the test on those specific sections.

Click here to read all about the specifics of the CILS exam

If you are uncertain about what Italian Language Certification to earn, I think you should consider what’s the best timing of the year and the best examination center for you, in terms of locations. Both the CELI and the CILS are official Certifications issued by Italian universities, which means they are valid and recognized worldwide.

If you decided to embark on this journey, don’t forget to check out my articles about learning Italian effectively, if you want to get in wonderful shape for your Italian proficiency test.

The Italian B1 level for Italian duel Citizenship

The Italian B1 proficiency test is essential to get the Italian dual citizenship application.
To be eligible for Italian citizenship, as for December 2018, one must prove an intermediate knowledge of the Italian language: at least B1 level.

In other words, all applicants must take an official Italian Language Certification, attesting, at least, the B1 one level of Italian language fluency.

The Italian language test for citizenship can be taken at any private or public Italian language institution providing CILS, CELI, or PILDA certifications.

The Italian Certification for Italian proficiency can be issued by:

the University of Siena – CILS

the University for Foreigners of Perugia – CELI

the Dante Alighieri Society – PILDA