Characteristics of the Italian CILS A2 exam (level A2)


For all those who have knowledge of Italian corresponding to a level A2, from the University of Siena it is possible to obtain an official certificate that recognizes this level. It is the CILS certification, which is known worldwide and serves so that candidates can open doors in the academic and work environment. Today we want to help you prepare for the official Italian CILS A2 exam, from the University of Siena; we will tell you everything about it.


What exactly is the CILS certificate?

 It is an officially recognized title that certifies the level of linguistic-communicative competence in Italian as A2, a foreign language. The CILS certification is the first Italian certification that has adopted the system of six levels of linguistic-communicative competence proposed by the Common European Framework of Reference of the Council of Europe, which has created specific certification modules for workers of foreign origin in Italy. The CILS Center is an institutional member of EALTA (European Language Testing Association) and an affiliate member of ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe). These are two associations that aim to promote knowledge of language tests and assessment in Europe. With these affiliations, the CILS Center is committed to guaranteeing ethical management of the evaluation process to all those involved. In 2004, CILS obtained an important recognition, the European Language Label, a quality certificate that rewards the most important and innovative projects in the field of language teaching. The award was given to the CILS A1 and A2 certification modules for integration in Italy.

 Who can take the CILS A2 Italian level exam?

 This test can be taken by all those who study Italian, work and study in contact with Italian reality, wish to obtain long residence permits or want their Italian skills to be measured. The CILS certification tests are not tied to particular methods or types of language courses: each candidate can prepare for the CILS certification exams in the way they consider most appropriate. To take the CILS certification exams it is not necessary to have special qualifications, but only knowledge of the Italian language corresponding to the parameters indicated for each CILS level. Well-founded general cognitive skills are required, sufficient language skills in your own language, knowledge of the Latin alphabet.

Although there are different options to obtain an official certification of Italian as a second language, the University of Siena recommends the CILS qualification because:

  • It guarantees the correct evaluation of one's own competence in Italian as a foreign language, according to valid and safe criteria.

  • It is chosen every year by thousands of foreigners, young people and adults, in Italy and in the world, who want to integrate into the world of work and study, enroll in an Italian university, teach Italian or prove their level of competence in other areas of use in which it is required.

  • It takes place in carefully selected examination sites, which conform to permanently controlled quality and transparency criteria.

If you need to obtain the A2 level certificate, you must take into account, therefore, that you must have already acquired the knowledge for that level. It is essential that you can develop the fundamental skills of level A2 of Italian before taking the test.


Structure of the CILS A2 test


Each CILS exam proposes tasks that are related to real life situations to assess the candidate's ability to use language in different contexts of communicative interaction. The tests measure all language and communication skills: -Listen, -read comprehension, -written production, -oral production, -the ability to manage communication structures in Italian. Regarding the types of tests, CILS offers both objective tests and semi-open tests, as well as open and thematic tests in a balanced way. In this way, candidates have the opportunity to show their linguistic-communicative competence through differentiated services.

For level A2, the total duration of the test is approximately 2 hours and 55 minutes.

In the following table you have specified the duration of the test with the specific time of each of the parts that comprise it: A) WRITTEN TESTS 




 The University of Siena makes the following document available to all interested parties with the instructions for organizing the material for the different tests. It may be interesting that you read it so you can see how the whole procedure unfolds.

How to prepare for the CILS A2 exam on your own


—If you plan to prepare for the exam on your own, the first thing you have to do is make sure that you have the required level to take the test, in this case, it is level A2. It is advisable that you review well all the contents of level A2 before embarking on preparing for this exam.


—Look at the different parts of the exam and from here get an idea of 鈥嬧媏verything you have to work on to pass it. Create a weekly work schedule, in which you distribute the time you really have to dedicate to this project and the different tests. It is essential that each week you work on everything, each test, without leaving any since that is what will ensure the pass and the highest grade;


—It would be good to keep in touch with native speakers since that will allow you to acquire greater fluency, practice and acquire the accent as well as vocabularies and structures that you may not be able to obtain only with the study. Currently, you have many possibilities of contact with people from anywhere in the world, use the Internet to your advantage and if your exchange can help you with corrections, it would be very useful for you to continue advancing on safe ground;


—Another important idea to keep in mind is to find groups or people who are also preparing for the test. This can help you connect with people who are like you, resolve doubts and help each other, to be informed of possible changes and news and so that you do not feel alone while studying on your own;


—The University of Siena makes the following link available to all those interested in taking CILS A2.  This is a sample of an exam so that the preparation follows a specific objective and course. It is essential that you work with this material and that you focus exactly on what the exam is like;


—To help all those interested in taking this exam and who prepare on their own, the University of Siena makes the following guide available, with all the information that you can consult and follow in the form of basic advice.


Recommended material to prepare the different tests


  1. Oral comprehension: it is essential that you practice listening directly to native speakers, that can help you a lot. For this we are going to propose material that can be used for this specific part of the exam:


—In the following link you will find films in Italian, all recommended for level A2, with which you can practice listening. Movies, although they can be classified by levels, always contain a complexity that will help you prepare a little above your level.   

Comprehension of texts: the only thing you can do to prepare for this test is read everything that you can. From newspapers to magazines related to the topics that you know they can ask you and, especially, reading books of level A2 of Italian so that you become familiar with them and master structures and the maximum possible vocabulary. If you get books with comprehension exercises, it will be much better.

To practice a lot, we advise you to review the following list with reading books adapted to the required level, therefore they may be useful for taking the CILS A2 test: 

- Il mistero di Veronica , by Cinzia Medaglia: Veronica and Massimo are very different: she is a businesswoman; he, an artist. Anyway, they meet and get to love each other. However, when Massimo asks him to marry him, Verónica leaves him. He, who does not want to point himself out, and has the impression that Veronica is hiding something from him, begins to investigate her mysterious past ... An exciting story wrapped in intrigue that will accompany the reader through northern Italy from the metropolis of Milan to the Ligurian riverbank.

Traffico in centro , by Marco Dominici: on a hot September morning, Giorgio (a law university student) and Mario (an appointed and serious lawyer) experience a chance meeting at a crossroads in the city of Milan. For Giorgio, Mario is the image of what he wants to become "when he grows up".  For Mario, on the contrary, Giorgio is the image of his past, when he was a carefree and cheerful young man, which is now only a distant memory. Can this meeting be an unexpected occasion to start a new friendship?

Piccole storie d´amore, by Alessandro De Giuli, Ciro Massimo Naddeo: this book contains nine short stories dedicated to love, all with an unexpected and surprising ending. Nine romantic, passionate, funny, tragic, surprising love stories, as only love knows how to do. Surely you like and are interested in these stories with this theme, who doesn't?

Il drappo scomparso , by G. Scarco, Salwka: Captain Rossetti is in Siena for the Palio celebration, visiting a friend. The winner's prize disappears. Investigations take place in a tense environment. Some clues start to appear ...

-Via dei Mughetti : How can a quiet stay in Italy be transformed into a real adventure? This is what happens to Anna, a German student who comes to Bergamo to perfect her Italian. One day he finds Luisa's diary, the previous tenant, in his room: he flips through it and finds a truly disturbing page. Curious, Anna begins to investigate to solve the mystery with the help of a friend.

 C) Production of written texts: it is essential that you write and redact. Take a good look at the exam model and the guides proposed by the University of Siena. When you are clear about the tests you have to face, work by that guideline; The goal is to be as well prepared as possible for that particular test and to work hard on exactly what is asked of you on the test; D) Oral expression: it is about speaking, if possible with native speakers; practice will ensure success. You must make the effort and make the most of all the vocabulary that you have acquired in your readings or in your series, songs, movies. This will help you to converse more richly and fluently. Listening will help you when you speak to be more fluent, so don't stop working on it.

Books to prepare for the CILS A2 exam

To prepare the test directly you have the following books:

—If you take the exam outside of Italy, the University of Siena recommends.

—If you take the exam at any location in Italy.

—In addition, we bring you this list of books to work on level A2 of Italian, which will surely help you to reinforce the contents of this level.

Test scores

All exam tests are centrally assessed in the CILS Certification Center, which has developed the criteria for evaluating skills and the various types of tests, and the relative method for scoring. The decision to evaluate all the tests under the direct control of the CILS Center, including the oral production tests, which are specifically recorded in audio during the exam, represents a guarantee of impartiality for the candidates. In this way, all are subject to homogeneous treatment and reliable evaluation. The evaluation is administered by specially trained evaluators on an ongoing basis, sharing the CILS philosophy, criteria, and application options through ongoing comparison and discussion. The evaluation of oral production tests at the various exam sites, Also carried out through precise grids given to the evaluators, it does not seem to guarantee the use of evaluation criteria and similar points by all and, therefore, their homogeneity and reliability. Explanation, exchange, coherence, discussion of criteria and choices is considered the only way, to date, to at least limit the influence of subjectivity in the judgment. The overall score is 60 at level A2. Each skill gets its own score (variable from 0 to 20). To achieve the CILS certification it is necessary to reach the proficiency threshold in each of the skills that make up the exam. Candidates who are not proficient in all skills are awarded a certificate indicating passed and unsuccessful skills. The certificate can be saved in subsequent certification exams. Skills in which the proficiency threshold has been reached can be maintained for up to 18 months. The candidate can only come forward to support skills in which they have failed. The results of the CILS exams are communicated to the venues and candidates within 3 months of the exam date.

Registration for the next CILS A2 tests

To prepare for your exam and control when you can take the exam, The University of Siena has posted all the next exam dates.

The exams will take place in places with which the University for Foreigners of Siena has signed a special agreement. The Italian cultural institutes abroad and the other representatives coordinate and organize the exams on the spot. To find a CILS exam place, you have the following link available where you must select in which part of the world you want to take the exam, and from here find your exam center. If you are going to take the test in Spain, you can get directly and easily to the exam centers.

To take a CILS exam, you must contact the exam venue in Italy or abroad, where you intend to take the exam. You must contact the office and follow the instructions that will be provided to you. From this link, you can access If you want to take the exam at the Siena office. If there are candidates with disabilities (temporary or permanent disability), they must communicate their needs to the CILS Center by email ( or by phone 0577-240365 to agree on the methods and aids necessary for the exam. Candidates must present the medical certificate at the time of registration and send it to Discuss all this with your exam center and they will explain more clearly and accurately.


If you want to see your tests, you must contact the CILS Center within 30 days from the date of publication of the results on the web. You must send your request to . You must indicate: name and surname, place and date of birth, serial number, email address. You must attach a copy of a valid identity document and pay the fee for access rights to the exam and review. With this issue it is also best to process it with your exam center or ask them before doing anything.