Certificates confirming the knowledge of the Polish language

Certification exams that confirm the knowledge of the Polish languages have been organized since 4. They constitute the only means to certify as to the user’s language proficiency in Poland. Most often, they are taken by persons who wish to start working or studying in Poland and foreigners who plan to apply for the Polish citizenship.

Certification exams are organized and coordinated by the State Commission for the Certification of Proficiency in Polish as a Foreign Language, an institution controlled by the Bureau for Academic Recognition and International Exchange. The State Commission for the Certification of Proficiency in Polish as a Foreign Language, established on 3 August 2003 by the minister responsible for education operates pursuant to the Polish Language Act. It is composed of representatives from the biggest Polish academic centres that teach Polish as a second language. The commission fixes the exam dates, the composition of the exam juries, prepares indispensable exam materials, oversees the organization and issues certificates confirming the language competence of the candidate.

Detailed conditions, the specifics of organizing the exams and issuing certificates, including standard requirements for each proficiency level are defined in the Ordinance of the Minister of National Education and Sport of 15 October 2003 on exams in Polish as a foreign language. The exams are held in Poland and abroad, in the countries of origin of migrants and in the countries with an active Polish community. Exam sessions are organized three times a year, in the spring, summer and autumn). Tests at B1, B2 and C2 levels are available. Exams at A1, A2 and C2 levels are currently being developed. The standard exam requirements are compliant with the guidelines of the Council of Europe, whose goal is to standardize foreign language exams across Europe. All foreigners and Polish citizens who live permanently abroad can take the exam. The only limit is age – in the case ofB1 and B2 tests, only people who on the day of the test have turned 16 are eligible for the exam, and in the case of C2 – 18.

The method of preparation is not formalized, so it does not matter if the candidate participated in a course, read Polish philology or is self-taught. Holders of a master’s degree in Polish philology who have graduated from a Polish university do not need to pass the exam. Their diploma will be automatically considered to constitute a certificate of proficiency.

Sposób przygotowania nie jest określony, więc od strony formalnej nie ma znaczenia, czy dana osoba brała udział w kursach, studiowała polonistykę lub też przygotowywała się indywidualnie. Do egzaminu nie muszą przystępować osoby, które ukończyły studia magisterskie na kierunku filologia polska w Polsce. Ich dyplom jest automatycznie traktowany jako potwierdzenie znajomości języka na poziomie zaawansowanym.

The certification exam consists of the following elements:

  1. Listening
  2. Usage of grammar
  3. Reading
  4. Writing
  5. Speaking

Sample tests can be found here. On the website of the Commission for the Certification of Proficiency in Polish as a Foreign Language you can find learning materials, references sources for specific levels and a self-assessment test which will be useful especially for those candidates who have never learned in a systematic way.

In order to achieve the certificate, you need obtain a passing grade from each of the written parts and from the oral part. The grading scale is based on the Polish system used in Polish schools and universities (very good – good – sufficient – insufficient). In order to pass, the candidate needs to achieve at least the sufficient mark.

A successfully passed exam can be used to apply for a university course in Polish. More information about university education in Poland for foreigners can be found the article on Polish citizenship.

Below you will find the Council of Europe language proficiency levels described in a nutshell:

Level description


Beginner level

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.


Pre-intermediate level

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.


Intermediate level

Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise while traveling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.


Upper- intermediate

Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialization. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.


Advanced level

Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning. Can express ideas fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.


Proficient user

Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

More detailed requirements for the exam levels are defined in the Ordinance of the Minister of National Education and Sport of 15 October 2003 on exams in Polish as a foreign language.

Unfortunately, as we’ve already mentioned not all examination levels are available for learners of Polish. It means that only some of the proficiency levels are accompanied by a standard that defines the guidelines for curricula and teaching methods. In practice, it means that language courses at non-standardized levels can vary in particular centres that organize such courses. The situation will probably improve once the standards are introduced.

Examination fee vary depending on the level:

  • €60 for the B1 level,
  • €80 for the B2 level,
  • €100 for the C2 level,

Successful candidates also have to pay an additional fee for the certificate, which amounts o €20.

The statistics show that candidates for the exam come mainly from Ukraine, Russia, USA and Belarus. They are usually aged from 20 to 29. Women are more numerous than men.

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