Educational Authority

Accreditation Centre for Foreign

Language Examinations

Postal Address: 1363 Budapest, Pf. 112.
Customer service (only in person):
1122 Budapest, Maros utca 19-21.
Telephone: +36 (1) 374-2135

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is a language exam?

A language exam is an examination serving to give account of one’s language competence orally or/and in writing.
Language competence can be “measured” in different situations eg. final language exams at college, foreign language exams of school-leaving examinations at secondary schools. Moreover, students’ language competence is sometimes tested in nationwide surveys in order to pretest eg. a type of exam. Language competence typically consists of the skill of writing (creating texts individually), the skill of reading comprehension, the correct use of the language as well as speaking skills and the skill of listening comprehension (understanding recorded speech and the examiner at oral exams). The level of performing these skills is tested at language examinations.

What makes a language exam a state or certified examination?

In the case of certain language exams the “state” declares that those completing a particular exam with success may be entitled to benefits or preferences such as extra points on entering higher education, admitting the language requirements for college/university degrees or paying language allowance as well.

Before the 31st December 1999, there was only one great state language exam conducted by the Centre for Foreign Languages called ”Rigó utca”. Besides, there were certain college/university final exams, school-leaving exams taken abroad, degrees received in other countries etc., which were listed in the supplement of a decree. The holders of such diplomas or documents were and are entitled to all preferences granted by the state. The above mentioned decree No.3/1980.(X.25.)MM and all the exams listed in its supplement can be read in the Rules of Law section on our homepage:

After the 1st January 2000 the situation changed. Instead of declaring one particular exam by law (and listing equivalent exams that can be taken at different places), the state introduced the system of certified language examinations. Those having passed a certified exam at a certified institution are entitled to the same certified language certificate. It is important to know that all former state language exams are regarded to be certified language exams today, and entitle the holder to all preferences.

Why is it worth taking certified language exams?

Language students can learn which level they have achieved in their language competence during their studies.
Parents/teachers can learn whether their children/students have achieved the required level in their studies and, in consequence, whether the learning/teaching method they use is suitable for them.
Until 2005 a language certificate at least at intermediate level type C could substitute the school-leaving exam and grant bonus points in the procedure of admission to higher education.
A college/university student holding the appropriate language certificate can fulfil the requirements of qualification.
Public servants with language certificates can receive language allowance, in case they use the language at work.
From civil servants a language exam will be demanded by the law and they can get language allowance upon their language certificates.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is a procedure through which experts examine whether an institution (language centre), an exam location or an exam system is suitable for conducting certified language exams. If the experts find everything satisfactory, an accreditation resolution is issued, which is the ”permission for work” of a certified language centre, exam location or examination system. Examinations taken at these language centres, locations and of these exam systems are embodied in certified language certificates.

How can I know whether my language certificate is regarded as a certified language certificate?

If it is stated in the document that it certifies a state language exam, it is obvious.
If it dates back to before the 1st January 2000, the supplement to decree No.3/1980 MM has to be checked, and hopefully it is listed there. If it is an exam taken in Hungary and is not listed in the supplement, all that can be done is sit for a new exam.

What is a language exam system?

The components of language competence are listed in the first paragraph. Language competence can be measured in several ways by different tasks. An exam system is a set of methods measuring language skills in a specific way. The experts examine whether it is suitable for language testing, and if they find it suitable, it is accredited, that is given a permission for work. (see: Accreditation)

What is an exam location?

A language centre is in a building where the offices etc. are. The exams, however, are not necessarily conducted in that building but at different other sites, They are the exam locations of a centre. The locations are also examined by the experts to decide whether they are suitable for examinations. At some locations (eg. schools) the language teachers employed there also work as examiners; these places are accredited exam locations. There are, however, locations where the examiners are sent from the centre, and the location only serves as the site of the exam (registered locations).

What is a language centre?

A language system is a set of language testing methods. A centre is an institution which constructed the methods and uses them for language exams. A permission for work (accreditation) can only be applied for by a centre together with a system. (see: Accreditation)

What does it mean that an exam is monolingual or bilingual?

When answering the question “What is a language system”, we already described the components of language competence and the relevant exam parts in details. That description refers to monolingual exams. Bilingual exams contain an additional translation or an exam part testing mediation skills. Monolingual and bilingual may definitely be different from the “users’s” point of view. Before choosing an exam you should make sure the desired preferences are granted upon it.

What is the difference between language exams for ”general” and for ”specific purposes”?

A language exam for general purposes tests everyday language use. It does not aim at a particular group of language users or trade. An exam for specific (economic, medical, technical etc.) purposes, however, also tests the competence of using the field-related language of a particular trade or profession.
Remember that the precondition of issuing a college/university degree is usually a language exam for specific purposes. You should inquire which language exam for specific purposes is accepted for your studies.

What can be done if I have a language certificate but it is not a certified exam?

There are two typical cases:
The exam was taken in Hungary before the 1st January 2000, but not at ITK and not at one of the institutions listed in the supplement to decree No. 3/1980 (X.25.) either. In this case the exam has to be repeated.
In the other case the exam was taken at a foreign centre, which might as well have been organised by the centre’s representative in Hungary, and you do not have a certified certificate or a resolution of nationalisation. Then you should check if your certificate can be nationalised by the general or the specific nationalising procedure.

Are there any certified language exams in the EU?

No, the European Union as a community does not admit or reject any language exams.

What is the EU’s attitude towards Hungarian certified language exams?

The Union does not take a common stand on language exams. It is the right of the member-states to decide which exams are to be recognised or demanded.

Is a general handling of Hungarian certified language certificates to be expected in the EU?

The EU does not regulate the recognition of language certificates on community level. It is not regulated by its law. The recognition and evaluation of language certificates taken outside a member-state are regulated within the member-state’s own competence. Thus, the language certificates taken in Hungary are evaluated differently in the EU member-states.

Are language exams taken in the EU member-states expected to be regarded as certified language exams in Hungary without nationalisation?

As it is mentioned above, the community law does not cover the recognition of language certificates. Consequently, Hungary does not have to recognise language certificates taken in the EU countries automatically.

Is it known which language exam is the easiest to take?

Certified language exams are nearly at equal level, with only some tasks being different in other words: a good command of a language is evaluated equally high at each language centre.

Should I take a monolingual or a bilingual exam?

The difference between the two types of exam is in the fact that bilingual exams also test the competence of mediation (translation). Before making you choice you should make sure which type of certificate is demanded by the school, employer, etc. Both types are equally evaluated by the law.

How much will language certificates issued before September 2006 be worth in the future? Will they be enough for getting a degree?

The Hungarian Government Decree No. 137/2008 (V. 16.) can be read on our web-page. According to the decree, every exam is provided with a new certificate containing the new levels: B1-elementary level, B2-intermediate level, C1-advanced level. These levels follow the recommendations of the Common European Framework (CEF). The earlier certificates (issued before 1st September 2006) do not grow out-of-date, they will remain of the level whichever is stated in them. The law is not retroactive, it does not effect the certificates issued before the 1st September 2006.