What is CEFR certified levels?


5 mins read27.5K Views
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Aug 31, 2023 10:40 IST

CEFR Levels: Studying abroad often requires a series of examinations which are often broadly classified into language proficiency (like IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, DSH, DELF, etc.) and aptitude tests (GRE, GMAT, SAT, etc.). While the aptitude tests may or may not be required depending on the country you are applying to, more often than not one or more language proficiency tests are often required by universities abroad. Also, when applying to European Countries, they are more or less mandatory. They, however, differ in the degree of proficiency required for different courses and that is where CEFR comes into the picture. In fact, you would have come across the term pretty often. So what is CEFR and what are the various levels required for studying abroad? In this article, we will inform you everything about what is CEFR and what are CEFR Levels.

CEFR Levels

Check: Which exam to give for which course to study abroad

What is CEFR?

CEFR or the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching and Assessment is a reference standard, developed and set by the Council of Europe as part of a project called the “Language Learning for European Citizenship.” Developed to create a standard that can be used as a normal scale to measure proficiency in various languages spoken in the European continent, this is now widely used by universities abroad to set language proficiency markers. The system was designed as a validation of language ability for non-native speakers of the language.

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A student can understand CEFR as a guideline that measures a non-native speaker’s ability to communicate in a foreign language. This could be valid for any foreign language, namely German, French, English or Spanish.

Levels of CEFR

Broadly speaking the scale is divided into three levels of proficiency, on a six-point scale, – Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced (A1 is for beginners and C2 for those who have mastered a language). Here’s what they refer to:

Level Group



A - Basic User

A1 - Beginner

The level refers to a very basic understanding of the language wherein the person is able to understand the commonly used phrases, can introduce him/herself and describe where they live, etc. The person with an A1 level is often not able to speak well nor able to understand the language well until and unless spoken to very slowly and deliberately and with assistance.

A2 - Elementary

A little improvement over A1, the A2 level refers to the ability to communicate about the everyday requirements in the language. The person is able to understand day-to-day expressions and describe the immediate environment and answer routine and direct questions.

B - Independent User

B1 - Intermediate

This level is more than the previous in terms of the ability of the person to communicate with relevant ease in the language. Can relatively travel with ease, communicate his/her requirements in a manner understandable and can communicate in relatively well-formed sentences in areas of interest...but not all areas.  The person is also able to communicate his/her opinion in a better manner.

B2 - Upper Intermediate

In terms of improvement over the B2 level, the basic understanding of the language remains the same but there is a relatively marked improvement in spontaneity and fluency of responses. The candidate can produce and use clear detailed sentences and communicate with the native speaker with ease. Also, the level also signifies an improvement in the manner of expressing his/her opinions.

C - Proficient User

C1 - Advanced

The C Level refers to the advanced levels of proficiency of the language and relates to a level which signifies the person can speak, write and converse in the foreign language with ease. The fluency is also highly improved and the vocabulary is also distinctively well developed. This level refers to the ability of a person to use the language in academic or professional settings with efficiency and ease.

C2 - Proficient

This is the highest level of proficiency, referring to the candidates’ ability to communicate in a foreign language without any restrictions/ concerns. The fluency and vocabulary is further embellished with the person's ability to argue and present his/ her point of view and also discern the finer nuances of the language. In other words, this is as close as a person gets to speaking the language as a native.

Check: Study Abroad Without IELTS 2023: Top Countries, Requirements

CEFR Certified Levels and their corresponding Score for various Language Exams

As already mentioned above, the language requirements might vary from university to university and country to country. In fact, some universities in the same country might ask for a different level of proficiency. Also, often the degree of proficiency required might vary from course to course. For instance, a university in Germany requires you to clear the B2 level while another might ask for C1. Also, the same university might require a C1 level for its undergraduate courses and perhaps only a B2 level for a master’s program. This is due to the varying levels of understanding required. (Also read exams for Germany). Often universities require you to have a certain score. Here’s a list of the various levels the different language proficiency exams refer to.




















10-15 (speaking)
7 - 12 (writing)

42-71 (total)

72-94 (total)

95-120 (total)



PTE Academic








CIEP / Alliance Française Diplomas










TDN 3 — TDN 4

TDN 4 — TDN 5


In simpler words, say for instance a University suggests that they need a minimum of B2 level of CEFR proficiency, then for the English Language you would need a minimum of 59 in PTE Academic, 72 in TOEFL iBT or at least a 5.0 in IELTS. The same applies to French and German.

Read More: Questions before availing Shiksha Counseling Service

About the Author
Written by
Rahul Singha
Study Abroad Expert

Rahul Singha is a seasoned editor with Shiksha Study Abroad, specializing in overseas education. With over 8 years of domain experience, he has made a significant impact in contributing to the study abroad industry ... Read Full Bio



If University Is Accepting Duolingo then Can Duolingo be Acceptable for Canada Study permit

Reply to Pramit Kaundilya


Piyush Kohli

a year ago

Hi Pramit, make sure that the university is a designated learning institute then you can apply for a study permit.

Would CEFR B2 create problem in Canada study permit ? It is equivalent to 6.5 IELTS

Reply to Pramit Kaundilya


Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

a year ago

Hello Pramit. It would entirely depend on your university English score requirement. If a CEFR B2 is eligible for admission to universities in Canada, then it should not be problem during your visa application process.


nikhil pullela

2 years ago

Hi Rahul, Are there any College in the US that accept the CEFR score? I have a C2 proficient score and was wondering if it is necessary to take another standardised exam like IELTS or TOEFL. My IELTS score expires this year and I'm planning to go next year.

Reply to nikhil pullela


Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

2 years ago

Hello Nikhil. Most universities in the US are looking for IELTS and TOEFL scores. However, the admission criteria are very university-specific and you can take a look at the popular universities in the US and know about their individual eligibility requirements here: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com



Manjeet Singh

2 years ago

I got CEFR level B2 then shall I eligible for UG Diploma study in canada ?

Reply to Manjeet Singh


Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

2 years ago

Hello Manjeet. Thank you for writing in. You can know more about Algoma University here: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/canada/universities/algoma-university You can check out more universities in Ontario along with admission details here: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/canada/universities-in-ont



Manjeet Singh

2 years ago

Hello Rahul Sir thanx for your revert me back. I am looking for Project Management Diploma for 2 years and I have a one University name which is ALGOMA University however I am not stick static on this university rather I would like to study in this type of University or college which is situated in


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Aashish Mohanty

4 years ago

Does that mean certain colleges do not require the IELTS or TOEFL english proficiency tests and the CEFR can be used interchangeably? Also, where exactly can someone enroll for the CEFR certification exam? Would you consider the CEFR certification from British Council, India as a valid substitute?

Reply to Aashish Mohanty


Rahul SinghaStudy Abroad Expert

4 years ago

Hello Aashish. this is entirely subjective to the college/university you are planning to take admission into. every college would have their individual eligibility criteria which the student would be required to meet to take admission into the same.

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