If you’re thinking about working or studying in Brazil, you may well start hearing people talk about the CELPE-Bras exam. But what is it? Established in 1998, the CELPE-Bras is a certificate of proficiency in Brazilian Portuguese as a second language, and is offered both in Brazil itself and provided by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations in various other countries, including the USA and UK. If you need to provide official proof of your proficiency in Brazilian Portuguese for any reason, you will need to pass the CELPE-Bras exam. As you’ll see below, it’s quite demanding, and you will probably need to prepare with an expert tutor to be confident of passing.
Below, we’ll look at the different proficiency levels certified by the CELPE-Bras, and give an overview of the CELPE-Bras exam format.
CELPE-Bras Proficiency LevelsEverybody taking the CELPE-Bras exam sits exactly the same test. The proficiency level at which you are certified depends on your mark in the test, which is scored numerically out of five. There are four different levels of proficiency:
Avançado superior (highly advanced): Between 4.26 and 5 points. Indicates a near-native level of fluency.
Avançado (advanced): Between 3.51 and 4.25 points. Indicates a very fluent Brazilian Portuguese speaker.
Intermediário superior (upper intermediate): Between 2.76 and 3.5 points. Indicates a fluent Brazilian Portuguese speaker.
Intermediário (intermediate): Between 2 and 2.75 points. Indicates a moderately fluent Brazilian Portuguese speaker.
If you get less than 2/5, you have failed the test and probably didn’t practice with a tutor beforehand!
CELPE-Bras Exam Format
The CELPE-Bras exam is divided into two parts: written and oral, which are taken on separate dates.
Written Exam: This takes place first, and lasts for three hours. The test is divided into four tasks. The first two tasks focus on oral comprehension (audio and video), and the third and fourth tasks focus solely on reading and writing.
Oral Exam: This takes 20 minutes and is divided into two parts. The first part lasts five minutes, in which the examiner asks the applicant questions about their interests, work, etc., based on their answers to a questionnaire filled out when applying for the exam. The second part is fifteen minutes. The candidate is given a short text, and has one minute to read it before the examiner asks them questions about it for four minutes. This process is then repeated for two more texts.
Generally speaking, the oral exam takes place two days after the written exam, but this varies depending on the test center.
How to Register for the CELPE-Bras Exam
The CELPE-Bras exam is held twice per year and generally takes place in April and October, although it is best to check at the website of your nearest test center. Registration takes place in the two months prior to the exam month (i.e., if you want to take the exam in April, you need to register in February or March). You can register online at the test center’s website, and will need to pay a fee, which is currently set at 100 USD for test centers outside of Brazil, and 200 BRL in Brazil itself.
The CELPE-Bras exam is challenging, and if you aren’t prepared for it, failing is a genuine possibility, even if you have a decent level of Brazilian Portuguese. The more prepared you are for the kind of tasks you will face during the exam, the more confident you will be with the process, making mistakes less likely and ensuring a good pass level. The easiest way of reaching this point is to practice with a specialized tutor, who will help you become familiar with the exam format before you apply.