Certification Exams

Certification Exams: Differences Between DELE and SIELE

When it comes to taking certification exams to validate your knowledge of the Spanish language, the Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language (DELE) and the International Spanish Language Evaluation Service (SIELE) are the two best options. 

Both the DELE and SIELE can provide your student with valid accreditation. While both are backed by the Cervantes Institute, are Internationally recognized, and follow the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), there are still quite a few differences between both exams.

So what are the main differences between the two, and which one is right for your student?

Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE)

THE DELE are certificates issued by the Cervantes institute, on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports, which started in 1989.

Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española (SIELE)

The SIELE certifies the proficiency of the Spanish language in individuals and  since 2016, has been backed and promoted by the Cervantes Institute, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Universidad de Buenos Aires, and the University of Salamanca

Key Differences



  • Non-Native Speakers


  • Non-Native Speakers
  • Native Speakers



  • Never expires


  • 5 years

Exam Levels


  • A1 – Breakthrough
  • A2 – Waystage
  • B1 – Threshold
  • B2 – Vantage
  • C1 – Effective Operational Proficiency
  • C2 – Mastery

*You do not have to take the exams in order, you can choose which exam you’d like to take based on your own level


  • One single exam with contents ranging from the A1 – C1 levels

Test Sections


  • Reading Comprehension
  • Listening Comprehension
  • Written Expression
  • Oral Expression


  • Reading Comprehension
  • Listening Comprehension
  • Written Expression
  • Oral Expression

*With the SIELE exams you can choose to only take certain sections of the exam. You do not have to take all four sections, only the sections you are proficient in or sections you’d like to improve in. This is offered for the SIELE only.

Testing Format


  • Reading/Writing sections on paper
  • Listening/Oral sections are interactive with a teacher


  • All sections are done online through a computer using the testing sites software

Testing Place


  • Can only be taken at locations accredited by the Cervantes Institute. There are currently more than 1,000 centers in over 100 countries across five continents

*International School of Arizona is the only accredited location in the state of Arizona


  • Only at locations accredited by the Cervantes Institute. Currently there are over 700 locations worldwide

Exam Dates


  • Can only be taken on official exam dates with only certain exam levels being offered at specific times of the year


  • These exams can be scheduled at any time of the year by creating an appointment at an accredited center

Grading Criteria


  • Pass or Fail 


  • Based on a scale of 0-1,000 points equivalent to CEFR levels

Results Notification


  • Usually two to three months


  • Usually two to three weeks

Certifications Issued


  • Electronic certificate and official diploma mailed to you


  • Electronic certificate 

DELE Testing at International School of Arizona

The International School of Arizona is the only DELE examination center in the State of Arizona. Gaining this credential to validate your student’s level of competency in the Spanish Language is important. Contact Maria Mercedes Villamizar at [email protected] to schedule your appointment or get more information.

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