To become a permanent resident or citizen of Portugal, you must pass a level A2 Portuguese language test. This ensures that you have enough proficiency with the language to communicate at a basic level in the country.
The name of the A2 proficiency exam is CIPLE: Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira Play normal audio Initial Certificate of Portuguese as a Foreign Language. The organization that produces the CIPLE exam is called CAPLE: Centro de Avaliação de Português Língua Estrangeira Play normal audio Portuguese as a Foreign Language Evaluation Center.
CAPLE’s purpose is to assess and characterize proficiency in the Portuguese language. They use 6 levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2, which are based on the QECR: Quadro Europeu Comum de Referência Play normal audio Common European Framework of Reference of languages.
Now that we got all those acronyms out of the way 😅 , the important thing to know is just that CIPLE is the certificate for adults to prove they have met A2 level proficiency in Portuguese. There is also a more basic test for the A1 level, but it is intended for those ages 12-15.
Structure of the CIPLE Exam
The A2 Portuguese language test is about 2 hours long and is divided into 3 components:
1. Compreensão da Leitura e Produção e Interação Escritas Play normal audio Reading Comprehension and Written Production and Interaction
- Reading Comprehension: This part includes reading short texts such as ads, notices, etc and completing multiple choice, matching, and true/false questions.
- Written Production: You will also be asked to write short messages, such as text messages, emails, and/or letters.
- You will listen to audio of informal texts related to public, professional, or educational contexts.
- The clips may include background noise.
- You’ll complete a multiple choice, matching, and true/false questions based on the audio.
- This part usually involves 2 test-takers speaking with the examiner at the same time.
- You will discuss basic personal information, current events, and the examiner will simulate a typical communicative situation that you could encounter in the real world.
CIPLE Exam Scoring
To pass, you must score at least a 55% to show that you have reached a “suficiente” level on the A2 Portuguese language test.
- 85-100% Muito Bom Play normal audio Very Good
- 70-84% Bom Play slow audio Play normal audio Good
- 55-69% Suficiente Play slow audio Play normal audio Sufficient
Taking it to the Next Level!
Passing the A2 exam is a great way to get started, but most of us who plan to spend a lot of time in Portugal will want to continue improving beyond that level. The more you learn, the more at home you will feel. With more language, you can truly integrate into your community and become a part of Portuguese culture.
It’s important to use this early momentum to get as far as you can, as it’s rare to be able to jumpstart your studies again after you’ve already been here for a while and have adapted to your new routine.
As we said, the levels are based on the Common European Framework of Reference, which take into account comprehension, speaking, and writing skills.
This is a general overview of each level:
- A1 – Communicate using very basic questions and expressions. Require slow/clear speech to understand. Able to fill out forms with personal information.
- A2 – Able to understand/produce enough to complete routine tasks related to familiar experiences. Can participate in brief conversations. Can describe family, work, other personally relevant topics.
- B1 – Can communicate about familiar matters and handle most daily and travel related tasks. Can talk about experiences, plans, opinions.
- B2 – Can understand the main ideas of more complex texts and conversations. Can interact with native speakers more actively and easily, without needing much accommodation.
- C1 – Can communicate spontaneously and fluently in most contexts.
- C2 – Can easily understand almost everything and participate in almost any conversation smoothly. Can discuss, argue, summarize even complex information coherently, fluently, and accurately.
For a more detailed, official description of each level, see the chart here:
How to Study
A1 and A2 covers the most essential components of the language, which is quite a lot of information! You’ll start with simple greetings and work all the way up to topics such as using prepositions and conjugating verbs in the imperative mood.
B1 and B2 continues building on what you’ve learned so that you can handle more complex interactions. These levels cover the conjuntivo (subjunctive mood), past participles, idiomatic language, personal infinitive, specialized vocabulary, and much more.
Working through the Learning Notes and Lessons within each Unit is a great way to get started on your path to A2 level proficiency, and beyond!
Shorties, Podcasts, and Videos give you an effective (and entertaining!) way to improve your listening skills as you study for the listening comprehension components of the A2 test. Natural speech expands across multiple levels at once, but we’ve assigned an estimated CEFR score to each episode to help you know where to focus your efforts (ranging from A1-C1).
When studying for the A2 Portuguese language test, you’ll probably want to spend a lot of time with the A1 and A2 episodes. You should probably also practice with B1 episodes, though, because it’s always helpful to study at a level that is a little bit above where you need to be. Naturally, there’s a gap between what we know on paper and what we can use in real life!
Here are a few examples to give you a sense of the difficulty at each level. Non-members can access the audio only, but members have access to the full Portuguese transcript with English translation, plus the vocabulary, expressions, and comprehension quiz.
- A1 Shorty: Maria Encontra os Colegas
- A2 Shorty: A Vida da Cristina
- B1 Shorty: Viagem para Lisboa
- B2 Shorty: Cortiça
- C1 Shorty: Ouro Líquido… ou Azeite?
Preparing for the Test
We just launched a new Unit that will help you practice vocabulary and phrases that may be useful in a classroom setting. It also covers what you may read or hear in a testing scenario, such as taking the CIPLE A2 Portuguese language test. Tests tends to use words that you don’t encounter on a daily basis, so it can be helpful to gain some familiarity with the type of language used in instructions. Members can start the unit here: Classroom / Testing practice