Online placement tests onSET-Deutsch and onSET-English for refugees

The TestDAF Institute’s onSET placement tests enable learners of German or English as a foreign language to verify their language proficiency – quickly and easily. A special onSET exam has been developed for refugees and is now offered free of charge.

In order to study at a German university, students need very good German language skills, as well as knowledge of English for English-language degree programmes. That is why a majority of prospective student refugees are required to complete a German course. To determine the candidates’ language proficiency level and possible placement in a suitable preparatory language course, the Online Language Placement Test for Refugees (onSET) is now available free of charge:

  • German as a Foreign Language: onSET-Deutsch, formerly “onDaF”
  • English as a Foreign Language: onSET-English

1. Funding requirements

In order to gain access to all of the programmes and measures of the DAAD, the candidate must hold one of the following residence titles:

  • Persons with a BüMA/Proof of Arrival (asylum-seeker registration certificate prior to application in accordance with §63a AsylG)
  • Asylum seekers (process pending - temporary residence permit in accordance with §55 AsylVfG)
  • Tolerated persons (temporary suspension of deportation - tolerance permit in accordance with §60a AufenthG)
  • Refugees with right to asylum in accordance with Art. 16a GG/ GFK (residence permit in accordance with §25 par. 1 AufenthG)
  • Recognised refugees in accordance with § 3 AsylVfG (residence permit in accordance with §25 par.2 S.1/1. AufenthG)
  • Persons granted subsidiary protection in accordance with § 4 AsylVfG (residence permit in accordance with §25 par.2 S.1/2. AufenthG)
  • Persons granted deportation protection in accordance with § 60 par. 5 and 7 AufenthG (residence permit in accordance with §25 par.3 AufenthG)
  • Persons with a residence permit in accordance with § 22 S. 1 and 2, §23 par. 1, 2 and 4, § 24 and § 25 par. 5 AufenthG
  • Family members (parents, children, spouses), who have joined recognised refugees or asylum seekers as defined under the Geneva Convention or those granted subsidiary protection, may also participate in the free review process if they can provide proof that the “principal” person (the first to be granted refugee status) has a residence permit.

II. About onSET

The onSET test is an online language placement examination for German or English as a foreign language. It was developed by the TestDaF Institute and has been used by universities, language training providers and the DAAD for several years. Basically, it is an Internet-based, fill-in-the-blank test. Candidates register for participation online, sign up for a testing date online and choose whether to take the German or English placement test. In the standard procedure, participants take the onSET in a licensed testing centre on a fixed date under supervision.

The test is designed to precisely assess one’s language proficiency for placement in language courses (GER A2 - C1). It cannot be used as a language certificate for university admission.

IIa. Information on the onSET testing procedures for refugees

The onSET for refugees differs from the standard procedure in that it can be taken on any date at any location and without supervision. The test is available in three versions. An institution which determines course placement using onSET (universities, preparatory colleges, language centres) can choose the version most suitable for their needs. The reason behind providing three test versions is to offer institutions as much flexibility and provide the most accurate assessment of the candidate’s language abilities as possible.


Tasks: 8
GER Level: A2-C1
Location: Licensed testing centre
Test results (document): Certificate with score and GER Level


Tasks: 8
GER Level: A2-C1
Location: Candidate’s PC
Test results (document): Confirmation of score and GER Level


Tasks: 6
GER Level: A2-B2
Location: Candidate’s PC
Test results (document): Confirmation of score and GER Level

On the assumption that most refugees arrive with very little knowledge of German, the TestDaF Institute developed the “fixed-focused” version especially for this target group in order to enable candidates to participate despite having limited language proficiency.

Participants with a higher language competency can take the “fixed version” which assesses language proficiency up to the C1 level.

Those who register for either of these two versions online may immediately take the test and receive confirmation upon completion.

In individual cases, candidates may be allowed to participate in the “standard procedure” under controlled conditions on a date fixed by the testing centre (university, etc.). In this case, the participants receive an onSET certificate. The administering institution can monitor the test proceedings and verify the identity of the participants.

To verify authenticity, all certificates and confirmations are provided with an online verification code.

The TestDaF Institute is more than happy to help candidates determine which test is most suitable for them.

IIb. onSET registration

Refugees may register to take the free language placement test (focused versions) on the website Registration for the standard version must be arranged through a testing centre.

During online registration, participants are asked to upload a document certifying their refugee status, after which they may begin the test at any time. The confirmation of participation is automatically sent to the participant via e-mail and can be printed out as needed.

Contact partners at the g.a.s.t.

If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact the following:

Gesellschaft für akademische Studienvorbereitung und Testentwicklung e.V. (g.a.s.t., Society for Academic Study Preparation and Test Development)
Tel.: +49 (234) 32 29 770

DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst - German Academic Exchange Service