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Certificate of Proficiency in Brazilian Portuguese. Celpe-Bras Exam

1 – What is Celpe-Bras?

Celpe-Bras is the Certificate of Proficiency in Portuguese for Foreigners, developed by the Ministry of Education (MEC) of Brazil and applied in Brazil and other countries by the Teixeira National Institute for Educational Studies (INEP) with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Celpe-Bras is the only certificate of proficiency in Portuguese as a foreign language officially recognized by the Brazilian government. Internationally, it is accepted for businesses and educational institutions as proof of competence in the Portuguese language.

In Brazil, it is required by universities for admission in undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as validation of diplomas of foreign professionals wishing to work in the country.

The exam is prepared by a technical committee composed of professors from leading Brazilian universities active in the field of Portuguese for Foreigners.

2 – Who can apply?

All foreigners over 16 years who have the Elementary Scholl (Ensino Fundamental), who want to prove, for educational, professional or other purposes, their proficiency in Portuguese in levels: Intermediate, Upper Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced Superior.


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3 – How is the exam?

The exam has a communicative nature. This means that it doesn’t aim to measure knowledge about the language through questions on grammar and vocabulary, but by the ability to use that language itself.

The applicant’s competence is therefore evaluated for their performance on tasks that resemble situations that may occur in real life. So, learning about the culture and the Brazilian way of life are essential to succeed in the exam.

4 – What are the exam components?

Unlikely proficiency exams that test separately the four skills (listening, reading, speaking and writing), Celpe-Bras valuates these elements in an integrated manner, that’s’ to say, how they occur in real communication situations. This integration component is obtained by means of tasks (tarefas).

Fundamentally, the task (tarefa) is an invitation to interact in the world using the language with a social purpose. In other words, a task basically involves an action with a purpose, directed to one or more parts. For each task there is always a clear purpose of communication (writing text to complain, to inform etc.) and a caller (which can be a newspaper, a friend, a boss, etc..), so that the candidate can adjust his text for the communication situation.

At the exam correction, these aspects are important for judging the adequacy of the candidate response. Example of a task: Writing an email to a friend suggesting activities for the weekend, based on the reading of a newspaper programming section.

5 – How are the tasks?


Two tasks integrating listening and writing
Two tasks integrating reading and writing


Interview and talk about activities and interests of the candidate and on general interest matters, from small texts, photos, cartoons, called provocative elements. This module is recorded on audio or video and audio, depending on the availability of equipment in the applicator center, since it provides guarantee of good quality recordings. 



6 – How is the Celpe-Bras structured?

The exam is divided into two modules: Individual Part and Collective Part. The first part integrates Listening, reading and writing. The second one integrates Listening, reading and speaking.

7 – What is needed to pass?

Since the goal of Celpe-Bras is to certify proficiency in Portuguese in all skills in an integrated manner, the final score of the candidate is not calculated by averaging the grades of Collective Parte and Individual Part. This means that and advanced performance in Collective Part, for example, does not compensate a weak performance in Individual Part.

Therefore, even with an advanced oral performance in Single Part, if the candidate does not achieve an intermediate performance level (minimum for certification) in Collective Party, he won’t get the certification.

According to the final general note obtained, the examinee will be classified as the following levels of proficiency:

Without Certification0,00 a 1,99
Intermediate2,00 a 2,75
Upper Intermediate2,76 a 3,50
Advanced3,51 a 4,25
Upper Advanced4,26 a 5,00


8 – What are the proficiency levels evaluated in Celpe-Bras?

The Intermediate Certificate is awarded to the candidate who shows a partial operational knowledge of Portuguese, proving to be able to understand and produce oral and written texts on limited subjects in familiar contexts and situations of everyday life. It’s someone that uses simple language structures and appropriate vocabulary in familiar contexts. He may present inadequacies and interferences of the mother tongue and/or other foreign language(s) more frequently in unfamiliar situations.

The Upper Intermediate Certificate is awarded to the candidate who fulfills the criteria in the Intermediate level. However, the inadequacies and interferences of the mother tongue and/or other foreign language(s) in pronunciation and writing are less frequent than at the previous level.

The Advanced Certificate is awarded to the candidate who shows wide operational knowledge of Portuguese, proving to be able to understand and produce oral and written texts, fluently, on varied subjects in familiar and unfamiliar contexts. This is someone, therefore who uses complex language structures and appropriate vocabulary. He may have occasional inadequacies in communication, especially in unfamiliar contexts. The candidate who obtains this certificate is able to interact with ease in various situations requiring domain of the target language.

The Upper Advanced Certificate is awarded to the candidate who shows all the requirements of the Advanced level, but the inadequacies in producing written and oral are less frequent in than that level.



9 – What is the minimum certification required by the institutions?

The requirement of a certain certificate or other is a unique institution’s decision. This depends on the needs of language use required for certain course or function.

10 – How are the corrections made?

The Single Part evaluation is made during the interaction face to face, by two trained evaluators. The marks are given independently by two observers: while one interacts with the candidate and gives a mark taking into account all the interaction, the other observes and analyzes his performance analytically, using a grid with six criteria (comprehension, competence interactional, fluency, lexical appropriateness, grammar adequacy, pronunciation) with gradations of specific performance for each level. The interactions are recorded in audio for eventual measurement and analysis by the Technical Committee.

The Collective Part evaluation is made at the Ministry of Education, in Brasilia, by specially trained correctors and supervised by the Technical Committee, using grids of correction with previously defined and specific criteria for each task.

Each task is evaluated by two brokers, also independently, keeping the confidential identity of the candidate.



11 – What are the application and registration dates?

Celpe-Bras is applied twice a year, in April and October. The inscriptions occur in February/ March and August/September, respectively.

12 – How to get prepared for the exam?

The candidate can prepare himself by reading newspapers and magazines, watching movies and TV shows, interacting with Brazilians. 

13 – Where can I register for the exam?

The candidate must take the exam only in accredited institutions in Brazil and abroad.

14 – How to apply for Celpe-Bras?

The candidate should fill in the application form and questionnaire. More information here.

Fonte: MEC

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