When I moved to Portugal, I knew I’d wanted to pick up the language. While you do not need to speak Portuguese if you live in Lisbon, when you go out of the city to more rural areas, it definitely helps. I have been taking European Portuguese classes for a year and four months. I am currently at the B1 level and decided I should take the A2 CIPLE exam because I plan to eventually get permanent residence in Portugal (I am currently on a Portuguese D-7 residence visa which has to be renewed on a consistent basis).
The A2 CIPLE Exam for Portuguese Proficiency
Portuguese Language Requirements for Permanent Residency
If you plan to become either a permanent resident or citizen of Portugal, you need to prove that you have basic knowledge of the European Portuguese language. If you get permanent residency and then apply for citizenship, you do not need to re-take the Portuguese proficiency exam. There are a few more things that make this more complicated, but you need to prove that you have A2 level proficiency. That means taking the CIPLE exam (Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira) which is the Initial Certificate of Portuguese as a Foreign Language.
The exam is actually the CEFR A2 level. This lets the Portuguese government know that you have a basic knowledge of Portuguese and can get along in basic conversations, or as I like to put it, that you can speak Portuguese as well as a 9-year old.
What you need to to take the CIPLE Exam
I signed up on the CAPLE website at the university near my house in Avenidas Novas. Let us discuss the sign-up process.
Sign-up Process for CIPLE Exam
- Go to this page on the CAPLE website
- Select “Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira”
- Click “seguinte” at the bottom of the page
- Choose the country where you would like to take the exam
- Choose the location where you would like to take the exam
- Enter your basic information.
Then you will receive an email telling you that you are enrolled and need to pay the 70,00€ fee for the exam. You can do this at a multibanco or through your Portuguese bank account‘s transfer system.
Once you submit the payment you will get a confirmation for the date, time and location of the exam.
How to Practice for the CIPLE Exam
My teacher Nuno hooked me up with six practice exams that we did over a two week period before the exams. If your teacher does not supply these, the CAPLE website does give you one example test on their website to practice. These are the links to each section of the practice exams in case you need them:
How is the CIPLE Exam Structured
The test is split into three sections:
- Oral Expression (10 minutes – 25% of your grade) – You are taken into a room with 1-2 other people and each of you has to give a quick speech to answer one question from the person giving the exam.
- Reading & Writing (1 hour 15 minutes – 45% of your grade) – 25 multiple answer questions and two short written answer questions.
- Oral Comprehension (30 minutes – 30% of your grade)
Taking the CIPLE Exam
You need to take your ID card with you as well as a blue or black pen and a pencil and eraser. You are asked to arrive 20 minutes before the exam begins. You wait outside the room as groups of 2-3 people are taken in to do their speaking exam.
When you walk into the speaking part of the exam, you are asked a simple question and asked to expand on it.
Then you go out and wait until everyone in the group is called in for the reading & writing section. Your particular exam will have your unique applicant number on it. Write this down for future reference so you can check your grades. People are seated far away from each other to discourage cheating and people are given different versions of the exam. The multiple answer part is a scantron test, so you need to fill in the circle for your choice with a pencil.
When that section of the test is done you get a 5-minute coffee-bathroom break and everyone comes in for the oral comprehension part. They will play a series of conversations and you need to answer about the context of each conversation/audio.
Is the A2 CIPLE Exam Difficult?
It’s not hard at all if you have studied. The test does have some trick questions so you need to pay attention. The only difficult section for me was the last section of the oral comprehension exam. I goofed and started making notes on the wrong line and because you cannot go back, it was difficult to figure out the right answers to go with each question, so pay attention to this part.
How is the CIPLE A2 Exam Graded?
The exam is graded from zero to 100. Here’s the breakdown on the grade scale for the A2 Portuguese Exam:
- Muito Bom 85-100% (best grade – you passed)
- Bom 70-84% (Average – you passed)
- Suficiente 55-69% (Good Enough – you passed)
- Insuficiente 0-54% (this is the failing grade)
How Long Does it Take to Get CIPLE Exam results?
I was able to check for the results online two weeks after taking the exam here. When you go to that link, enter your candidate number and the results will come up.
You have to wait a bit longer to get the actual certificate. That took a month and three days. I received an email that told me where to go pick it up. Once I arrived at the office, I had to show ID and sign my name to take the certificate (which is shown above).
Have other questions about the A2 exam, learning Portuguese, or moving to Lisbon…ask me in the comments & good luck on the exam!