Spanish Levels and Descriptions

Spanish Levels Explained

CEFR*/ Reference CEFR* Level Names DELE ** Spanish Express Levels British General Qualifications***
A1 Breakthrough or Beginner Diploma de Español A1 Beginner A1.1, A1.2 & A1.3 Foundation Tier GCSE
A2 Way stage or Elementary Diploma de Español A2 Elementary A2.1, A2.2 & A2.3 Higher Tier GCSE
B1 Threshold or Intermediate Diploma de Español (Nivel Inicial – B1) Intermediate B1.1, B1.2 & B1.3 GCE A-Level (known as AS)
B2 Vantage or Upper Intermediate Diploma de Español (Nivel Intermedio – B2) Upper Intermediate B2.1, B2.2 & B2.3 GCE A-Level (known as A2)
C1 Effective operational proficiency or Advanced Diploma de Español C1 Advanced – Various levels
C2 Mastery or Proficiency Diploma de Español (Nivel Superior – C2) Proficiency – Various levels


* The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, abbreviated in English as CEFR or CEF or CEFRL (compared to the German abbreviations GeR or GeRS, the French abbreviation CECR, the Italian QCER, or the Spanish MCER), is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages across Europe and, increasingly, in other countries. It was put together by the Council of Europe as the main part of the project “Language Learning for European Citizenship” between 1989 and 1996. Its main aim is to provide a method of learning, teaching and assessing which applies to all languages in Europe. In November 2001, a European Union Council Resolution recommended using the CEFR to set up systems of validation of language ability. The six reference Spanish levels (see below) are becoming widely accepted as the European standard for grading an individual’s language proficiency.

** The DELE Spanish Diplomas are official qualifications certifying the degree of competence and mastery of Spanish, granted by Instituto Cervantes on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Spain. The DELE examinations have been designed following the guidelines of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) of the Council of Europe. For more information about exams and dates, please visit:

*** GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education)
are the main qualification taken by 14–16 year olds. The qualification mainly involves studying the theory of a subject, together with some investigative work, while some subjects also involve practical work. They are highly valued by schools, colleges and employers. Adults can take them as well..

*** AS and A Spanish levels are the traditional qualifications offered by schools and colleges for 16-19 year olds. They’re highly valued by universities and employers and focus on academic subjects, although some are work-relatedAS levels can be taken as a stand-alone qualification, or as the first part of an A level course. AS levels are completed at the end of Year 12 (the old ‘Lower Sixth’ year). A2 exams and coursework are added on to an AS level at the end of Year 13 (the old ‘Upper Sixth’ year), bringing it up to A level standard. Adults can take them as well.


Spanish Express Levels

Spanish levels by Spanish Express


Spanish Express Level Descriptions

Spanish Levels: Beginner

Test score: 0-20
You know you are in A1 when you answer “yes” to the following:

  • Are you a complete beginner?
  • Can you use and understand familiar everyday expressions and phrases?
  • Can you introduce yourself and others?
  • Can you ask and respond to questions about personal details (i.e., where you live, people you know, things you have, etc.)
  • Can you interact in a simple way if Spanish is spoken slowly, clearly and if they are prepared to help?

Spanish Levels: Elementary
Test score: 21-30
You know you are in A2  when you answer “yes” to the following:

  • Can you understand sentences and common expressions to explain current information (e.g. basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment)?
  • Can you communicate about simple, familiar and routine tasks?
  • Can describe in simple terms your background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need?

Spanish Levels: Intermediate

Test score: 31-39
You know you are in B1  when you answer “yes” to the following:

  • Can you understand the main ideas of standard input on familiar matters that may occur in work, school, leisure, etc.?
  • Can you deal with most situations when traveling in a place where Spanish is spoken?
  • Can you write simple text on familiar topics?
  • Can you describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions? Then, are you able to give reasons, opinions, plans and explanations for them?

Spanish Levels: Upper Intermediate

Test score: 40
You know you are in B2  when you answer “yes” to the following:

  • Can you understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions of your field?
  • Can you fluidly interact with native speakers without the strain for either party?
  • Can you produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a an issue with the advantages and disadvantages?

Spanish Levels: Advanced
You know you are in C1 when you answer “yes” to the following:

  • Can you understand a range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning?
  • Can you express fluent and spontaneous thoughts without much searching for expressions?
  • Can you use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes?
  • Can you produce clear, well-structured, detailed texts on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices?

Proficiency Spanish Levels
You know you are in C2  when you answer “yes” to the following:

  • Can you easily understand virtually everything heard or read?
  • Can you summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation?
  • Can you express yourself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations?

Spanish levels: find yours with our free Spanish Level Test.