Later I tried to hunt around Germany for the possibility to pass a DSH examination. This is a type of German language exams, which enables non-native german speakers to study in a German educational institution.

I contacted some examination center capable doing DSH (not surprisingly, these are all German universities), but I've got always the answer: I can try a DSH exam by them only if I have an active application to their institution. It seems as if it were only possible as part of an application process, but I nowhere found this explicitly.

And my goal weren't to apply into a German University (although in the future I didn't closed this out). My goal were with that to make my CV looking better.

Yes, I've got the tip to pass some equivalent German exam (f.e. TestDAF or the Sprachdiploms of the Goethe Institut), and probably this is which I will do if there is no other possibility, but currently my best wish were a passed DSH, because this is what I consider the best-looking in a German CV ("Lebenslauf").

Thus my question is: is it possible to try an "independent" DSH Examination (without an active application to German educational institution), or not?

  • Do you have the credentials to apply at a university (i.e. an equivalent of A-levels/Abitur)? If so, why not just enter an application process, to the language exam, and never follow through?
    – Raphael
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 16:01
  • @Raphael Yes, I have an abitur and an MSc diplom as well, these are all EU-wide accepted papers. Entering the application process were also a possibility, probably a "berufsbegleitend" Phd course which I am mainly thinking about, but it is currently only a possibility in the future.
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 16:17
  • Why does a DSH look better than a TestDaF or C2 of Goethe-Institut? DSH is considerably cheaper than the latter, but, does it really look better?
    – c.p.
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 20:40
  • @PeterHorvath: In order to enter the application procedure, you don't need be suited for the program or willing to accept an offer (i.e. you can apply for any program). You'd be beating bureaucracy with its own weapons, creating unnecessary work for some poor professors and employees who have to review (and, presumably, reject) your admission, but well. That said, Tilo's advice seems to be more reasonable.
    – Raphael
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 20:58

2 Answers 2


Considering that DSH stands for Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang it makes some sense that they'll only test persons showing an interest in studying at their university... The DaF exam and quite a few others are considered equivalents, by the way.

Keeping all that in mind, some universities allow non-students to sit the exam as well. This is called "offene" Prüfung. The FH Aachen is among them, but I'm sure there are others as well.

  • I tried some of them, but I've got the answer, that they are accepting only applicants of their partner institutions. I will try FH Aachen as well, hopefully they will be an exception.
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 17:14


Take the DaF exam. It looks better on your CV.


Since your main motivation is to make your "Lebenslauf" look better - try to take the perspective of a hiring company:

  • No German employer will care for a language exam/certificate. Just put a line like this in your CV: "Deutsch - fließend in Wort und Schrift". If your other qualifications are good they'll interview you in German and make up their mind if your language skills are sufficient for the position.
  • Employers outside of Germany won't be able to tell the difference between a DSH and a DaF certificate.

If anything, I would personally say that the DaF exam is more prestigious. I know many people who were able to pass with DSH after one year of study without any prior exposure to the language. This was at the University of Mannheim which has a very competitive business program.

Again, if you take the point of view of a university, they want students to pass, because they want a larger pool of foreign students to pick from for their programs. In the end they want the smartest students not the students with the best command of German. So they are really only looking if you are good enough to follow classes in German, which might sound difficult, but if you think about math or science programs, there is really no need to have a feel for the finer nuances of the language.

Finally, note that DSH is not a standardized test. It is graded locally and not centrally. Difficulty is known to vary from University to University.

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