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Portuguese Language Test For Citizenship in Portugal: A Comprehensive Guide

Did you know that every year, thousands of people worldwide try to get their hands on a Portuguese passport?

Indeed, Portuguese citizenship is one of the most coveted by families, investors, and digital nomads alike, and it’s the reason why so many of our readers are starting to learn Portuguese with our native tutors. It’s easy to see why. With a Portuguese passport, you get to live, work, and study in the EU and enjoy a fantastic quality of life in one of the most accessible countries in Europe.

Although the process of getting a Portuguese passport can be long and difficult to understand, with the right set of information you should be able to get through it in a breeze. In this blog, we will tell you about the most important step: the Portuguese citizenship test. By passing this exam, you get to prove that your Portuguese is at the A2 level (basic user) or higher, which means that you are able to cope with the basic communicative demands of living and working in Portugal.

Below, you will find all the information you need to know about the official Portuguese citizenship language test: the CIPLE exam.

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The CIPLE exam (Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira) corresponds to level A2 of the CEFR (Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). It tests candidates’ ability to successfully face the social domains of communication, produce simple written texts, and convey personal information.

Being an A2 exam, CIPLE test-takers need to demonstrate that they can interact in situations that require a basic use of Portuguese, which means they won’t be able to produce complex language on abstract topics.

The components of the Portuguese citizenship test, which has an overall duration of 2 hours, are:

  1. Written Production and Interaction + Reading Comprehension: 1h15’
  2. Oral Comprehension: 30’
  3. Oral Production and Interaction: 10’/15’

The exam has a school version aimed at young people aged between 12 and 15 years, in which the themes and assignments are adapted to suit the candidates' age. Both the adult and school versions take place in May, July and November.

The scoring system for the Portuguese citizenship language test consists of three “passing” categories:

  • The Very Good rating is awarded to candidates who score between 85% and 100%.
  • The Good rating is awarded to candidates who score between 70% and 84%.
  • The Sufficient grade is awarded to candidates who score between 55% and 69%.

Oral Comprehension

In order to pass the oral comprehension section of the exam, candidates have to demonstrate that they can understand simple messages like greetings, apologies, congratulations, and invitations. Besides, they need to prove that they can interpret messages regarding migration procedures, instructions about time and movement, and information about housing or accommodation.

The format of the oral comprehension paper is quite simple. Candidates have to listen to pre-recorded audiotracks depicting everyday communicative situations, and then they have to solve multiple-choice and true or false exercises based on what they hear.

Reading and Writing

The Reading section of the Portuguese citizenship test allows candidates to demonstrate that they can understand street signs, public transport information, restaurant menus, and medical recipes, among other text types. The Writing part, on the other hand, tests candidates’ ability to write informal texts such as postcards, casual emails, and notes with simple requests.

In Part I, test-takers are handed an advert and two brief texts about everyday situations. Through multiple-choice and true or false questions, they have to demonstrate that they understand the purpose and main points in these samples.

In Part II, candidates have to write a short message to a friend, as well as a letter whose purpose is specified in the instructions.

Oral Expression

If the Oral Comprehension paper allowed candidates to demonstrate their listening skills (a receptive ability), the Oral Expression part allows them to show their speaking skills (a productive ability). This is the shortest section of the Portuguese citizenship language test: applicants have 10 to 15 minutes to engage in simple exchanges focused on social functions such as greetings, requests, expressing gratitude, and even toasting.

In addition, they have to be able to provide factual information about their family, their job or studies, and other aspects of their life. They might have to describe what their brothers or sisters do for a living, or what their best friend looks like.

Finally, they are given an instruction that puts their communicative skills to the test. They have to ask for directions to get to a specific place, talk to a bus conductor, or solve a simple problem at the check-in desk in a hotel. Alternatively, they might be asked to talk about current affairs such as a hot media issue or a recent political event.


Who Needs to Take the Portuguese Citizenship Test?

Proof of basic knowledge of Portuguese is required from every person who wants to obtain permanent residency or citizenship. However, before you are eligible for Portuguese citizenship, you will need to have lived in the country for 5 or more years (3 if you’re married to a Portuguese citizen). Have you just arrived in Portugal? Don’t get discouraged. Use this valuable time to learn Portuguese to make sure that, when the time comes, you get a great score on the Portuguese citizenship test.

How Long Do You Have to Wait for Your CIPLE Exam Results?

Applicants usually get their results by email about 2 weeks after they’ve sat for the CIPLE exam. The overall score can also be accessed through the CAPLE website.

Is the CIPLE Exam Difficult?

Being an A2 exam, the Portuguese citizenship language test is relatively easy. It tests candidates’ ability to cope with simple, everyday communicative demands. For this reason, the language that appears on the instructions and sample texts, as well as the language that applicants are expected to produce, consists of simple grammar and basic vocabulary.

How to Get Ready for the Portuguese Citizenship Test

1. Immerse Yourself in the Language

If you still have a few months ahead of you before you can sit for the test, make the most of your time and get as much exposure to the language as possible. Learn with podcasts, watch amazing Portuguese and Brazilian films, and follow our tips on how to learn this beautiful language. Or if you’d like to start your learning journey with a bang, send us a quick message so we can match you with a Portuguese tutor for lessons.

2. Familiarise Yourself With the Format of the Test

Do you tend to get anxious before exams? A great way to reduce anxiety before taking the Portuguese citizenship language test is to make sure that you are familiar with the format of the exam, and that you have got a lot of practice in the kind of exercises you will have to solve on the day of the test. Click on this link and find a detailed description of the CIPLE exam as well as a sample test that you can download and print for free.

3. Study With a Qualified Native Portuguese Tutor

Now, if you ask us what is the best way to learn Portuguese, we won’t hesitate for a second. Though media products such as movies, podcasts and songs make great learning companions, if you really want to become a fluent speaker you will need to use the language in real conversations. At Listen & Learn, we can offer you plenty of opportunities to speak by matching you with a Portuguese native speaker who also happens to be a fully qualified teacher!

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Not sure you’re ready to take the test just yet? Send us a message now and we’ll pair you up with one of our tutors so he can give you some honest feedback. Oh, and do you want to know what the best part is? The first lesson is for free, no strings attached! Contact us now and take your Portuguese skills to the next level.