Exam situation

It’s a tough one, but it’s worth it.

It’s been just over a week and a half since I sat the DELE C2 exam in my local Instituto Cervantes. While I meant to write this post earlier, time has really flown since then and I simply didn’t have time while running between one thing and the other. That said, I feel I have an obligation to write up my experience of it for all those who are interested.

Before anybody thinks about sitting it, you best be prepared for a long day (depending on the exam centre of course). While I’ve been told that some centres spread the exams out over the course of a few days, I had it all in the one day which dragged the entire thing out over ten hours! Have plenty of caffeine on hand to keep you going, as you’re likely to need it.

Next, don’t expect an instant exam result (or anything close)! The official website for the DELE says that the results are published “approximately three months” after you’ve sat the exam. While I’d like to share my results here, the fact is I simply can’t until February. That means the remainder of this post is entirely based on my perspective of how the exam went.

How does it work?

In the first exam you are presented with reading comprehensions along with three listening exercises. The key thing to look out for here is the first reading exercise, as it can easily throw you off. The idea of the exercise is that you select the correct word from three options to fit the blank space in the text. Many of the words here are quite literary whose meanings are difficult to guess. Worse, the difference between them appears subtle. The first piece of advice I have is that often two of the possible answers have a similar meaning, which leaves you with one that is usually the correct answer. The second piece of advice is time. Be sure to spend no more than fifteen minutes on each text, as it will complicate matters for you later. By the time you move on to the listening exercises, you won’t have time to go back to it. This was the big mistake I made, particularly with the last text.

The next exam was by far the part I found most challenging and could easily be the same for a lot of people. The first part of the exam involves creative writing based on two (related!) documents as well as an audio recording they give you in the exam. In my case, the aim was to write an article for a student newspaper on the topic of young people and technology. The text only has to be 450 words long, so I recommend you take your time in this part. Be sure to draw up a plan, even if it’s a simple one, on how you’re going to structure what you write. My second piece of advice is to base your text on what they’ve given you, try to incorporate as many ideas and statistics as you can, as that shows you’ve understood them.

Last but not least is the oral component of the exam, the first part of which simply involves summarising four items. Unlike in some of the sample papers, in my case there was only one graph to talk about but I was happy with the theme of urban living. The theme is what is important here and the examiner didn’t seem at all interested in how closely I was sticking to the texts. Be prepared to defend your point of view in the second part of this exercise as the examiner will challenge it, but remember to base your opinions on what’s given. That will not only give weight to your arguments, but it’ll also show how well you understand the text.

Despite being difficult, I was very happy with the exam and would recommend it to anybody willing to expand their knowledge of Spanish. Admittedly, I may or may not have passed it, I certainly have learnt a lot over the last few months and will keep practicing while I await the results.

So, go for it if you’re thinking about it! Feel free to share your views on the whole experience below. Alternatively if you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them.