The onSET for Refugees

onSET for Refugees was funded from 2016 to 2019 by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and will now be continued by g.a.s.t. for use at universities. Universities can continue to offer the test free of charge to groups of refugees who are interested in studying.

Please note: Individual registrations can no longer be considered. If required, the regular onSET can be taken at a licenced test centre for a fee. Further information can be found at:

onSET gives universities the opportunity to measure the language level of university applicants in German or English as a foreign language. After a maximum of 30 minutes, participants receive a certificate with their CEFR level. The onSET result helps with finding a suitable language course.

The benefits for universities

With onSET, universities can…

…determine the language level of learners and assign them to language courses.
…measure the progress of learners.
…ascertain readiness for language tests.
…offer proof of language proficiency for employment purposes.

With language placement, you can easily build homogenous groups for your language courses and test the progress of your language learners. This increases learning success.
Your language learners also receive a prediction of their success in a high-stakes language test like the TestDaF. The TestDaF is required for admission to a degree course in Germany.
For job seekers, onSET is also proof of language proficiency in German or English.

Participants know their language level immediately after the test. The test lasts a maximum of 30 minutes.

onSET placement is based on the CEFR and indicates a level between A2 and B2. Below A2 and above B2 is not differentiated.

Dr. Iryna Shalaginova, University of Koblenz-Landau

Dr. Iryna Shalaginova, Universität Koblenz-Landau

“onSET for Refugees offers a free, quick and reliable process to assess the language knowledge of participants.

The test results enable us to better advise participants before the start of courses, keep their expectations to a realistic level and build homogenous language groups so as to ensure more efficient language lessons.”

The Test Structure

onSET is a test with six gap-filling tests.
These are short texts where some words have some letters missing. The missing letters are represented by an underscore to make a gap. Each text has 20 gaps that participants must fill correctly. Here is an example:Beispiel
Timing is important. Participants have five minutes per text to fill in the gaps. After this, they are moved on to the next text. They can also move sooner to the next text. It is not possible to go back.
One point is given for each correctly filled gap. A maximum of 120 points can be achieved. The result is shown after all six texts have been completed. Participants see their total score (between 0 and 120 points), the percentage they have completed correctly and their level of language proficiency on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

The Test Procedure

Participation in onSET requires one or several computers or laptops with an internet connection.

If possible, the test should be taken using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

From 01.01.2020, registration via this website is no longer possible. Universities can register their participants in groups. A group must consist of at least 5 people. For further information, please use the contact form.

IMPORTANT: A calm and quiet environment must be ensured during the test. You should also ensure that each participant completes the test alone and without assistance or resources. This maintains the integrity of the test and enables participants to find the most suitable language course.

Sample Test

Get to know onSET with the sample test.

In the sample test, you complete four tasks instead of six. The tasks in the sample test look exactly like those in the regular placement test but are slightly easier overall.
When you click on “onSET-Deutsch” or “onSET-English”, an automatic test is performed to check that your browser settings are suitable for the sample test. If an error message appears, please change the relevant setting.

Select the sample test for German or English:

onSET-Deutsch onSET-English

When the test can be taken

As soon as a participant is registered, he or she can take the test at any time.

The registration process requires a lead time of around 5 working days. Please register promptly with the coordination centre (see above).


Restrictions in the availability of the onSET portal and test implementation can arise during routine maintenance work.

The next maintenance work will be carried out on 2023/03/29 between 05:00 and 09:00 (German time). You will be notified of this on the portal homepage two days in advance.

Certification of the onSET Result

All participants automatically receive certification of their test result by e-mail (pdf). This pdf document can be printed out at any time. It remains permanently available to download from the participant portal.