CILS: Certification of Italian as a Foreign Language Exam

The Certification of Italian as a Foreign Language Exam (Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Straniera, CILS) is a competency examination to demonstrate proficiency in the Italian language. CLIS exam can be taken at every level of competence, from Beginners to Advanced. CILS certifications are internationally recognised.

CILS- Certificate of Italian as a Foreign Language is a degree awarded by the University for Foreigners of Siena in agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which testify to the level of linguistics and communication competence in Italian as a foreign language. The Foreigners University of Siena is responsible for the exam papers, has set up the proficiency levels in conformity with the European Framework for languages, and lays out the dates of examination. Most Italian universities accept the CILS Certificates as an entrance requirement for prospective students, Erasmus students, and international students. The CILS is also used by employers in Italy to select foreign candidates who wish to take on activities related to the Italian institutions for professional purposes. 

Structure of CILS

CILS comprises of six levels - beginner, elementary, intermediate, and advanced - for each level the CILS exams consists of five parts: Listening test, Reading tests, Use of the Italian language, i.e. Analysis of structures of communication, Speaking test, and Written composition test. Each stage has varying difficulty level. The beginner level exam starts at level A1 whilst the most advanced level is C2. The duration of the tests varies according to the level. It takes about 2-5 hours for testing all the levels.

The CILS exams start with listening tests, in which the candidates have to listen to an audio text and accordingly answer few questions based on it. This test is performed using CD players or PC equipped with audio equipment. Candidates need to put their answers on the answer sheet and use only a black point pen to answer. Then is the reading comprehension tests, in which candidates need to read and understand a text and answer questions based on it. Then, is the use of Italian language tests, in which candidates are required to analyse and understand the communication structures, i.e. read the input and then speak. It tests the manner of speaking. In the end, the candidate shall appear for the writing test. In this test level, candidates are provided with the writing sheets and they need to write on the topic given.

After completion of these levels, an oral test is taken, usually on the same day. Oral tests comprise of two parts: an interview between the candidate and the leasing agency and a monologue of the candidate. Both tests are recorded onto a CD.

Qualification Levels

Each CILS level indicates a capability to communicate which may be applied in different conditions and settings.

The CILS includes six levels: Level A1, Level A2, Level one-B1, Level two-B2, Level three-C1 and Level four-C2. Each of these denotes an increasingly higher level of linguistic - grammar, sentence structure, lexicon and communication ability.
The levels correspond to the language proficiency levels illustrated in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

 European FrameworkCILS Exam 
 Basic User Level A1
  Level A2 
 Independent User Level B1 
  Level B2
 Competent User Level C1
  Level C2

  • CILS Uno (Level B1): This level tests the candidate’s knowledge of basic Italian. The duration of this level is 3 hours. 
  • CILS Due (Level B2): The duration of this level is 4 hours with an increase in the difficulty. This level basically examines whether a candidate can speak in Italian. And if this level is cleared, candidates can apply for admission to an Italian university without sitting for the language assessment.
  • CILS Tre (Level C1): The duration of this level is 5 hours and represents a high proficiency in speaking Italian. 
  • CILS Quattro (Level C2): This is the highest level of the CILS qualifications and is of five and a half-hour. The candidates of this level are regarded as having reached the highest point of language expertise, almost similar to that of a native.

CLIS Eligibility

The CILS qualification is open to all- Italian residents abroad and non-Italian speakers desiring to demonstrate their competence in Italian. Candidate of any age is eligible to apply.

CLIS Dates and Deadlines

The CILS test is held twice a twelvemonth in June and December at the centres authorized by the Foreigners University of Siena. CILS test is held at the Cultural Institutes abroad or other convenient locations. In Italy, the exams take place at the Foreigners University of Siena and at other Institutions in agreement with the Foreigners University of Sienna.

CLIS Scoring and Results

The total score ranges from 60 in the levels A1 and A2 to 100 points in the remaining levels. Each part of the different levels gets a score separately in the scale of 0 to 20. To achieve the CILS certification, it is mandatory to attain the pass mark in each of the levels. Candidates who do not get a passing score in all parts are given a certificate of capitalization, which indicates the potential to get better and those that are not exceeded. 

The University for Foreigners of Siena evaluates the exams following the directions and instructions of the European Union, and award the appropriate level of qualification to the candidates depending upon their scores. The test results are communicated to the CILS offices and candidates within 3 months from the date of the examination.

Registration and Fees

Fill in the application form that can be downloaded from the University website. Mail the application form along with a photocopy of identification proof (passport, ID card, driving license, and so on) to the concerned institution or certified centre.
The registration fee varies from centre to centre as well varies according to the level. The application is completed only after the fee payment is received. And thereafter, the candidate can sit for the exam at any attested testing centre.

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