Prepare the CAPLE exam
How can I get a certificate for my European Portuguese language proficiency?
CAPLE stands for “Centro de Avaliação de Português Língua Estrangeira,” an institution hosted by the University of Lisbon that offers the only officially recognized certification for European Portuguese as a foreign language. It is important to highlight that it is the European variety of the Portuguese language because in Brazil, the official certificate is called CELPE-Bras or Certificate of Proficiency in Portuguese Language for Foreigners. For more information about this exam please refer to their official website.
Concerning the CAPLE exam, there are six levels ranging from A1 (absolute beginner) to C2 (near-native) testing the candidates’ ability to interact in writing and orally in various situations as well as understand written and spoken Portuguese.
The exam takes place in different locations known as LAPE (an acronym for Local para Aplicação e Promoção de Exames/Place for Application and Promotion of Exams) hosted mainly by universities and other institutions that offer language courses in Portugal as well as abroad. In some countries, embassies and/or consulates may also offer this possibility. To find out where is the LAPE most convenient for you, please visit CAPLE’s official website.
It is also important to check the exam annual schedule for each LAPE because depending on demand and examiners availability they may offer less opportunities for candidates to take the exam than those made available at the University of Lisbon where CAPLE is located. If you are taking the exam outside Portugal, there are usually less opportunities to sit the exam than in Portugal. Each examination center also decides how many candidates will examine, so it is important that you are aware of the registration start and end dates to make sure that you sit the exam at the centre and at the time that is most convenient for you.
The calendar for the CAPLE exams is published early in January, so make sure you visit their website site to find out which is the LAPE closest to you as well as the calendar for the exams dates they will be offering that year. Sometimes, the website of the LAPE will have that information as well, so make sure that you visit that website too.
As any other language certificate, CAPLE will test you ability to listen, read, write and speak (all the four skills) but each exam has a different format, depending on the level. Be sure to understand the format of your exam as well as each section within that exam. Taking an exam is challenging enough so it is important to prepare thoroughly for the type of questions you can expect as well as the time limit for answering every part of each section of the exam. For more information of the format of the exam as well as tips on answering each question time check our our blog entries.
If you are planing to sit a CAPLE exam, make sure that you plan carefully where and when your exam will take place. Most importantly, give yourself enough time to prepare for the exam because, like every other language certificate exam, only dedication and regular practice will prepare you to succeed.
I guess that the first and most important decision you must take is what level should I register for. The answer will depend on what you need your certificate for.
Do you want to obtain Portuguese nationality?
If you want to apply for Portuguese nationality you will have to demonstrate that your proficiency is at the CEFL A2 level so you must take the CIPLE exam, which tests your ability to communicate in basic everyday situations, such as introducing yourself, ordering food, or asking for information. A detailed description of the format and content of this exam is available on CAPLE’s official webpage. Make sure to read it carefully if you decide to take this exam.
Do you need a proficiency certificate for other purposes?
If you need a certificate for professional or other purposes then the level of the CAPLE exam you decide to take should reflect your current proficiency in the language but your goals for using Portuguese. It’s important to choose a level that is challenging but also achievable, so you can have a positive testing experience and build confidence in your language skills.
If you have some experience with the language e and can communicate in basic situations, then you may consider taking the DEPLE (B1 level). If you have a good command of Portuguese and can communicate effectively in most situations, you can consider taking the B2 (DIPLE). If you have a more advanced level of Portuguese, you can take the C1 exam (DAPLE), which tests your ability to communicate in more complex situations, such as discussing abstract topics or expressing opinions on current events. You will need to have near-native proficiency in Portuguese to apply for the DUPLE (C2 level).
If you are not sure which is you proficiency level in the language, the best way to find out is to ask a Portuguese language instructor with experience training students for these exams. Taking a proficiency level test can also help you to determine your language level but only if they respect two very important criteria: they are not grammar based and all four skills are included.
Once you have made a decision regarding the level, the examination centre and the day you will take your exam, you must familiarize yourself with the exam format. This can easily be done by downloading the sample test for your exam from the CAPLE official website.
The key to success on the CAPLE exam is preparation and practice. Being fully aware of what the exam entails and having completed as many exam-test as possible will help you feel confident on the exam day which is a major step towards not only passing the exam but having a good result.
Choose the plan that best suits your needs.
The CAPLE exams are made up of four parts, all delivered on the same day. First, you will sit for the Listening, Reading and Writing sections of the exam and then the Speaking test. If you are taking this exam in Portugal, the Speaking test is usually scheduled for after the lunch break. Let’s start with the very last section of the exam and work our way up.
The Speaking component assesses your use of spoken Portuguese and takes between 15 to 25 minutes to complete. Usually, candidates are assessed in pairs following an alphabetic list which will be posted outside the venue where this oral exam will take place.
In the first part of this component, candidates will be asked to introduce themselves. In the second and third part, test takers will receive a prompt (during or before the interview) to talk about a particular topic or perform a role play with their partner or the examiner. In the CIPLE exam, candidates may be asked to talk about current events. In other exams, they will have to “stage” a dialogue planning an activity or solving a problem and give their opinion on a given topic.
Every test will be recorded so that it can be reviewed whenever candidates are not happy with their grade and request a reassessment of their exam.
This section of the exam will last 60, 75, 90 and 105 minutes for the DEPLE, DIPLE, DAPLE and DUPLE exams, respectively.
The Writing component of all CAPLE exams includes two major tasks. Writing a note and a message or two messages of different lengths in the CIPLE exam and writing a message requesting information, explaining a situation or making a complain and drafting an opinion essay in the remaining levels. The DEPLE; DAPLE and DUPLE exams will also include a third part where candidates will have to rewrite 10 sentences.
Again, the duration for this section will vary depending on the exam level you are taking: 30 minutes in the DEPLE, 75 in the DIPLE, 90 in the DAPLE and 120 in the DUPLE. Moreover, the type and number of questions will also be different between A1 and B1 and B2 to C2 levels.
This section requires exam takers to read a wide array of texts that they will most likely encounter on a daily basis in a Portuguese-speaking environment. These texts are extracted from public notices or guidelines, advertisements, newspapers and magazines
The duration of this section ranges from 30 minutes in the CIPLE exam to 40 minutes in all other levels. In this section of the exam, candidates will listen to several recorded conversations and/or monologues on a range of topics and answer mainly multiple-choice questions, but also matching or correspondence exercises as well as true or false questions.
In the CIPLE exam, text will most likely be informal speech frequently heard in social, educational and/or professional interactions. In the remaining levels, texts will also include informative news articles, weather reports, and cultural events advertising as well as asking for/giving instruction and discussing tasks or situations.
Achieve your language goals and get a language proficiency certificate
Question types and answering strategies
The sections of written expression, reading, and oral comprehension of the exam have different types of questions, but one that is common to all of them is:
The Writing, Reading and Listening sections of the exam have different types of questions but one that is common to all of them is the multiple choice question with three answer options. Multiple choice questions (MCQs) are a popular format of assessment. First and foremost, because they are an efficient way to test a large number of students in a relatively short amount of time. MCQs are graded and scored objectively because there is only one correct answer. By eliminating examiners’ bias, MCQs ensure grading fairness.
There are two criticism we can raise regarding this type of questions, both of which may lead to inaccurate assessments of an exam taker’s knowledge. The first is that there is a possibility of guessing the right answer and the second has to do with flawed questions that are too ambiguous and confusing to allow exam takers to arrive at the right answer. Despite these shortfalls, MCQs are the most effective way to assess a broad range of knowledge in a short amount of time. Besides they are used in conjunction with other question types to ensure a fair and thorough examination of Portuguese language knowledge and proficiency levels.
It goes without saying that each question type requires a specific answering approach. Considering that multiple choice questions (henceforth referred to as MCQs) are the most frequently used throughout the European Portuguese proficiency exams, mastering its answering techniques is an important stepping stone to achieve the best results so make sure that test takers prepare themselves to answer this specific type of question.
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Introduction to CAPLE
Are you confident your Portuguese is good enough but you need to further develop CAPLE exam test skills?
Are you confident your Portuguese is good enough but you need to further develop CAPLE exam test skills?
Do you need to develop your CAPLE test skills and improve your level of Portuguese?