Italian language tests & CILS

As an international student, you must pass an exam to demonstrate your basic knowledge of the Italian language. Alternatively, you must show evidence that you possess a CILS certificate.


CILS (Certification of Italian as a Foreign Language) is a qualification on the competence in Italian as a foreign language. It is awarded by the University for Foreigners of Siena, and is recognized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and throughout the EU, conforming with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. It   grants acceptance in any higher education institution in Italy.

The CILS certificate is useful to anyone who studies Italian, works and studies in Italy or is in contact with Italy, and to those who simplywish to measure their competence in Italian.

Each CILS level certifies the ability to communicate in several different contexts and situations. All foreign citizens, Italian citizens residing abroad (descendants of Italian emigrants) and foreign immigrants in Italy can enroll to CILS exams.

There are no age limits and it is not necessary to have special qualifications or to have passed a CILS examination of lower level. The tests are not tied to specific teaching methods or language courses. Applicants can prepare for CILS exams in the ways they consider to be the most appropriate and suitable to each of the levels.

The CILS certificate may be obtained at six levels of increasing difficulty:

  • A1/A2: beginners;
  • CILS Uno = B1. It tests the candidate’s knowledge of basic Italian;
  • CILS Due = B2. It tests an intermediate knowledge of Italian. The candidate should be able to converse in Italian adequately. It is the level requested to entry an Italian university without sitting the normally obligatory language assessment;
  • CILS Tre = C1. It represents an advanced competence in Italian;
  • CILS Quattro = C2. It is the highest level and demonstrates native native-like mastery of the language.

All of the exams cover the most important elements in language acquisition: speaking, reading, written composition, analysis of structures of communication, and listening.

UPO is a certified examination centre, which also organises courses of Italian language during the academic year. You must enroll 40 days prior to the date of the exam (usually in June and December).