italian language For Members

QUIZ: Test your Italian language level on the A1 to C2 scale

QUIZ: Test your Italian language level on the A1 to C2 scale
What's your level of Italian? Photo by Alissa De Leva on Unsplash

Learning Italian can be a long process and it also brings you into a world of bewildering acronyms - here's what these language levels mean in terms of your everyday Italian conversation.


Whether you are looking to apply for Italian citizenship or university, want to sign up for a language course or perhaps if you are simply interested in quantifying your existing language skills then you will need the A1-C2 language level indicators.

These are part of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CERL) and mean that language levels can be assessed on an international level, without having to try and compare national qualifications such as SATs, A-levels and baccalaureates, which all use different qualifications. 

Under the CERL scale, language learners are split into three broad levels - A meaning beginner, B meaning intermediate, and C meaning advanced.


If you're looking to take exams at any of these levels, they will involve four sections; reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Here's how the Council of Europe breaks them down:

A1 is a basic, introductory level where you should be able to "understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type."

At this level you ought to be able to introduce yourself, and ask and answer personal questions about things like where you live, who you know, and things you have.

A2 is one step above A1, moving toward every day language capabilities.

At this point, you should be able to understand sentences related to "very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment" and conduct a "simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters."

READ ALSO: 12 signs you’ve cracked the Italian language

B1 is the first intermediate level. At B1, you should be able to communicate well in daily situations, particularly when standard language is being used.

You should "understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc." and "deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling" in Italy.

You should also be able to "describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans."

Some grammar subjects taught at the B1 level include past-perfect tense, the past and present conditional tenses, and speaking using hypotheses (se - or if). This is the level required for Italian citizenship.

B2 is the upper intermediate level. You should be able to "interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party" and "understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics."

You should also be able to produce "produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue."

While you may have learned some subjunctive in B1, you should have a wider understanding and ability to use it when at the B2 level.

Your Italian level could be anywhere from A1 to C2 on the CERL scale.

Your Italian level could be anywhere from A1 to C2 on the CERL scale. Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP.

C1 is the first advanced level. Many Italian language learners find it challenging to move from the B2 upper intermediate level to C1.

At the first advanced level, you should be able to comprehend long and demanding texts and capture implied meanings; speak spontaneously and fluently without struggling or having to look for words; use language effectively and flexibly in social, professional or academic life; and express yourself on complex subjects in a clear and well-structured way that demonstrates control over syntax, strong articulation and cohesion of discourse.


C2 is the highest language level according to the CERL - it corresponds with having a master or near-native level in the language.

You should therefore be able to understand virtually everything read or heard effortlessly, write at an advanced level with the ability to provide strong arguments, and express yourself orally in a spontaneous, very fluent, and accurate fashion while comprehending nuance and complex subjects (although having an accent is no impediment to achieving C2 level, as long as you can be clearly understood by an Italian person).

READ ALSO: 12 of the most useful Italian words you need to know

What level do I need for Italian nationality?

In order to apply for Italian naturalisation, you must prove that Italian is at least at B1 level - you will need a certificate at B1 level in a test administered by one of four educational institutions approved by the Italian Education Ministry or Foreign Ministry.

They are: The University of Siena for Foreigners (CILS); The University of Perugia for Foreigners (CELI); The Dante Alighieri Association (PLIDA); and The University of Rome 3 (CERT).


READ ALSO: TEST: Is your Italian good enough for citizenship?

These tests can be taken at language schools around Italy and abroad. If your language school advertises B1 testing for citizenship, make sure they are accredited by one of the above institutions.

The exact structure of the test varies slightly depending on which institution you go with, as well as on whether you’re taking the B1 cittadinanza exam or a regular B1 level Italian language certification.

Could you pass an Italian language test at B1 level?

Could you pass an Italian language test at B1 level? Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Both tests involve answering similar questions at the same level, but the B1 cittadinanza is essentially a shorter version which costs less to take. The downside is this certificate can only be used for your citizenship application and not for other purposes, such as for university applications.

Foreign residents who aren't at the stage of applying for Italian naturalisation but who want to apply for permanent residency may need to pass an A2 language exam to demonstrate proficiency in basic Italian.

READ ALSO: What to expect when applying for Italian permanent residency

How can I test my level?

The Europass language site offers short free quizzes ranging from A1 to C2 in difficulty to test your Italian grammar level.

The non-profit Italian Academy of Languages/ Accademia Italiana di Lingua in Florence offers a longer online free grammar test of 76 questions ranging across all levels, and gives you your Italian level upon completion. Both sites require a name and email address.


If you think you might be at B1 level, you can take a sample citizenship test from one of the accredited institutes to see how difficult you find it.

You can find a sample test paper, including reading, writing, listening and speaking elements, on the CILS website here.





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