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Bulgarian Proficiency Test Guide: Pass the Test with Success

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Have you ever heard about STBFL or ECL? Did you know that you can check your Bulgarian language skills by taking a Bulgarian language level test and getting a certificate that corresponds to your language level?

There are many reasons why taking a foreign language exam is important. Here are just a few scenarios that indicate you should start planning to take one yourself:

  • If you plan to move to Bulgaria 
  • If you want to build business relations with Bulgarians
  • If you want to stand out from the crowd when applying for a job
  • If you want to increase your motivation to learn more

In the process of preparing for your Bulgarian as a second language exam, you’ll not only improve your studies, but you’ll also learn language skills that will be advantageous for you in the future. Moreover, by expanding your language skills, you’ll be able to feel like part of a different community, country, and culture—and make many Bulgarian friends.

BulgarianPod101.com has prepared this detailed Bulgarian proficiency test guide to give you all of the tools and information you need to pass your Bulgarian exam!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Bulgarian Table of Contents
  1. General Information About Official Bulgarian Proficiency Tests
  2. The Standard Test of Bulgarian as a Foreign Language (STBFL)
  3. ECL – European Consortium for the Certificate of Attainment in Modern Languages
  4. Foreign Language Proficiency Exam (FLPE)
  5. Official ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)
  6. How BulgarianPod101 Can Help You Prepare For The Test?
  7. Conclusion

1. General Information About Official Bulgarian Proficiency Tests

Whether you have an upcoming Bulgarian language test or you plan to take one in the future when you’ve had time to improve your language skills, it’s beneficial to learn more about the specifications. There are four Bulgarian language exams available for foreigners: 

  • The Standard Test of Bulgarian as a Foreign Language (STBFL) 
  • European Consortium for the Certificate of Attainment in Modern Languages (ECL) 
  • Foreign Language Proficiency Exam (FLPE)
  • Official ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)

BulgarianPod101.com has prepared this guide for you with detailed information about each of these exams, including:

  • General information about each of these four Bulgarian language tests
  • How many levels there are and what they mean
  • How many sections there are and what they consist of
  • The duration for each section (and for the entire exam)
  • Where the exam can be taken
  • What the fee is for taking each exam
  • What kind of certification you’ll receive for each level

2. The Standard Test of Bulgarian as a Foreign Language (STBFL)

A- General Information About the Exam

The Standard Test of Bulgarian as a Foreign Language (STBFL) is conducted by the University of Sofia. In Bulgaria, it’s accepted as proof of Bulgarian language proficiency. This Bulgarian language exam consists of five levels of language competence: A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. Each level is regulated based on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) and ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe) levels.

1- Detailed Information About the A2 Level Exam

The A2 level of this Bulgarian proficiency test reveals basic competence and corresponds to the ALTE A2 Level based on CEFR. 

Total Duration: 180 minutes, 4 parts for a total of 285 points. To pass, you need to get at least 144 points.

The A2 test consists of four sections:

    ★ The Listening Test

Duration: 40 minutes, 5 exercises for a total of 55 points. To pass, you need at least 28 points.

The candidate should understand the meaning of words and phrases, be able to take notes while listening to short texts and dialogues, and be able to find specific information in longer texts.

    ★ The Reading Test

Duration: 15 minutes, 2 exercises for a total of 35 points. To pass, you need at least 18 points.

The candidate should be able to read texts and answer related questions. The texts could be in the form of advertisements, letters, notes, or short stories.

    ★ The Writing Test

Duration: 105 minutes, 6 exercises for a total of 135 points. To pass, you need at least 68 points.

The candidate should be able to: write some simple notes or announcements; describe different events, places, people, and things; write personal letters to a friend. For this part of the exam, candidates can expect to:

  • Fill in the blanks
  • Answer writing questions
  • Write offers and commands
  • Make comparisons 
  • Write descriptions, essays, or dialogues
    ★ The Speaking Test

Duration: 20 minutes, 2 exercises for a total of 60 points. To pass, you need at least 30 points.

The candidate should be able to: take part in conversations; ask questions; understand what other people are saying. The first exercise is conducted in the form of an interview and consists of five to ten questions related to the personality of the candidate. The second exercise consists of a dialogue, in which the candidate has to describe something and reveal his/her own opinion about it. 


2- Detailed Information About the B1 Level Exam

The B1 level of this Bulgarian language proficiency test reveals threshold competence and corresponds to the ALTE B1 Level based on CEFR. 

Total Duration: 180 minutes, 4 parts for a total of 365 points. To pass, you need at least 184 points.

The B1 test consists of four sections:

    ★ The Listening Test

Duration: 40 minutes, 5 exercises for a total of 95 points. To pass, you need at least 48 points.

The candidate should be able to: understand longer and more-complicated dialogues; take notes while listening; answer spontaneously in dialogues related to different situations.

    ★ The Reading Test

Duration: 30 minutes, 3 exercises for a total of 55 points. To pass, you need at least 28 points.

The candidate should be able to: read short and long dialogues; paraphrase them; answer questions. Candidates will be reading original dialogues and articles

    ★ The Writing Test

Duration: 100 minutes, 6 exercises for a total of 155 points. To pass, you need at least 78 points.

In addition to being able to describe different things, the candidate should be able to write stories, dialogues, and two types of essays (analytical and descriptive).

The Writing Test
    ★ The Speaking Test

Duration: 10 minutes, 2 exercises for a total of 60 points. To pass, you need at least 30 points.

The candidate should be able to talk about and discuss familiar topics and argue for/against a specific position. The first exercise is conducted in the form of an interview and consists of five to ten questions related to the personality of the candidate. The second exercise consists of one or two dialogues related to daily or professional topics, in which the candidate has to analyze events or situations, as well as describe and reveal his/her own opinion. 

3- Detailed Information About the B2 Level Exam

The B2 level of the exam reveals good competence and corresponds to the ALTE B2 Level based on CEFR.

Total Duration: 260 minutes, 4 parts for a total of 300 points. To pass, you need at least 180 points.

The B2 test consists of four sections:

    ★ The Speaking Test

Duration: 20 minutes, 5 exercises for a total of 20 points. To pass, you need at least 8 points.

The first exercise is conducted in the form of an interview and consists of five to ten questions related to the personality of the candidate. The candidate should be able to: talk about and discuss different topics; argue; describe the pros and cons of different options; make comparisons; clearly express his/her thoughts in detail. 

    ★ The Listening Test

Duration: 60 minutes, 4 exercises for a total of 85 points. To pass, you need at least 51 points.

The candidate should be able to: understand sentences and short dialogues; correctly answer questions about them; take notes.

    ★ The Reading Test

Duration: 90 minutes, 5 exercises for a total of 60 points. To pass, you need at least 36 points.

The candidate should be able to comprehend a text related to media, a profession, or everyday life. He should also: cope with longer text on familiar topics; be able to fill in the blanks; be able to answer questions with yes or no; be able to choose the right answers from multiple options.

    ★ The Writing Test

Duration: 90 minutes, 5 exercises for a total of 155 points. To pass, you need at least 93 points.

The writing exam checks the developed skills of listening, reading and writing, starting with Global and detail listening comprehension and assessment of spontaneous communication. The second part consists of writing an answer to a group of questions, writing a continuation of a story, writing descriptive or argumentative texts, as well as writing an essay on a preferred topic. 

4- Detailed Information About the C1 Level Exam

The C1 level reveals high competence and corresponds to the ALTE C1 Level based on CEFR. 

Total Duration: 180 minutes, 4 parts for a total of 300 points. To pass, you need at least 156 points.

The C1 test consists of four sections:

    ★ The Listening Test

Duration: 40 minutes, 3 exercises for a total of 55 points. To pass, you need at least 28 points.

The candidate should be able to: understand different types of sentences; choose the right answers corresponding to them; take notes.

    ★ The Reading Test

Duration: 40 minutes, 3 exercises for a total of 60 points. To pass, you need at least 30 points.

The candidate should be able to: comprehend texts related to different areas of expertise; discuss various topics; understand the core meaning of texts; extract the relevant information from the texts. He or she should be able to identify phrases in fiction as well as in texts rich in information.

    ★ The Writing Test

Duration: 85 minutes, 6 exercises for a total of 125 points. To pass, you need at least 63 points.

The candidate should be able to write well-structured texts using different forms of expression. The exercises consist of writing five short texts, a continuation of a story, and an essay. 

    ★ The Speaking Test

Duration: 15 minutes, 2 exercises for a total of 60 points. To pass, you need at least 35 points.

The candidate should be able to talk freely about different topics and express his/her opinion clearly. The first exercise is conducted in the form of an interview related to the personality of the candidate. The second part consists of talking about professional and routine topics, as well as commenting on current events.

5- Detailed Information About the C2 Level Exam

The C2 level reveals perfect language knowledge and corresponds to the ALTE C2 Level based on CEFR. 

Total Duration: 240 minutes, 4 parts for a total of 300 points. To pass, you need at least 180 points.

The C2 test consists of four sections:

    ★ The Listening Test

Duration: 40 minutes, 3 exercises for a total of 120 points. To pass, you need at least 72 points.

The candidate should be able to understand everything he/she hears and exchange information making use of facts and arguments. 

    ★ The Reading Test

Duration: 90 minutes, 3 exercises for a total of 88 points. To pass, you need at least 53 points.

The candidate should be able to: comprehend texts related to different areas of expertise; discuss various topics, including those related to science; understand the core meaning of texts; extract the relevant information from the texts. He or she should be able to identify phrases in fiction as well as in texts rich in information.

    ★ The Writing Test

Duration: 90 minutes, 3 exercises for a total of 92 points. To pass, you need at least 55 points.

The candidate should be able to write well-structured texts using different forms of expression. The exercises consist of writing five short texts: a continuation of a story, essays, descriptions, notes from meetings and seminars, reports, personal and business letters, etc.

Writing Personal and Business Letters
    ★ The Speaking Test

Duration: 20 minutes, 2 exercises for a total of 20 points. To pass, you need at least 8 points.

The candidate should possess language competence that’s close to that of native speakers. The first exercise is conducted in the form of an interview related to the personality of the candidate. The second part consists of talking about professional and routine topics, as well as commenting on current events. The candidate should know how to use some Bulgarian and foreign sayings, quotes, and popular thoughts.

    ► Passing the Bulgarian C2 test can be very challenging, especially the speaking test. To help you out, we’ve put a video below that can teach you 50 Bulgarian phrases to use in a conversation:

B- Where Can the Exam be Taken?

This exam can be taken at the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” in the Department for Language Teaching and International Students.

C- What is the Fee for Taking this Exam?

  • The exam fee for US applicants is $100 + $15 postage fee for shipping the certificate. $115 in total. 
  • The exam fee for European candidates is EUR 85 + EUR 10 postage fee for shipping the certificate. EUR 95 in total.
  • The exam fee for applicants from other countries is $115 or $95 (optional).
Language Skills

3. ECL – European Consortium for the Certificate of Attainment in Modern Languages

A- General Information About the Exam

The European Consortium for the Certificate of Attainment in Modern Languages is an international examination system for testing the listening, oral, reading, and writing skills of candidates for fifteen European languages:

  • Bulgarian
  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Hungarian
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • Polish
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Serbian
  • Slovak

The test is subject to strict quality standards and reveals how well the candidate can cope with everyday, professional, and personal situations.

This test consists of four levels of language competence, adapted to the recommendations of the Common European Framework: A2 (Waystage), B1 (Threshold), B2 (Vantage), and C1 (Effective Operational Proficiency).

B- Detailed Information About the Examination Components

Unlike most language tests, the ECL does not include translation- or grammar-related tasks. Each of the four levels has the same test structure: four components tested by completing two tasks. Let’s take a look at them:

1- Oral Communication

This exam consists of two parts: a listening skill assessment and a speaking skill assessment. The candidates are assessed by two examiners. The maximum number of points a candidate can get is 25. The minimum number of points to pass is 10. Here are the parts of the oral exam:

    ❏ The first 3-5 minutes of the oral exam are for warming up and relaxing; candidates are not assessed during this time.
    ❏ The next part of the test is for starting a conversation between two candidates, while the role of the examiner is to guide their conversation with questions. Duration: 5-8 minutes.
    ❏ The third part of the test is for creating a monologue that reveals the candidate’s thoughts regarding a given topic or area of interest. Duration: 5-8 minutes.

2- Listening Comprehension Test

The candidate has to listen to an audio recording and demonstrate the ability to understand it by completing two different tasks. These can consist of multiple-choice questions, short answers, sentence completion, etc. 

The maximum number of points a candidate can receive is 25. The minimum number of points required to pass is 10.

3- Writing Test

The candidate is allowed to use a dictionary for this task, which consists of writing two texts on a given topic and predetermined length. The examiners will evaluate the texts based on factors such as style, fluency, text structuring, and morphology. The maximum number of points a candidate can receive is 25. The minimum number of points required to pass is 10.

A Dictionary can be Used
  • The candidates for level A2 have 35 minutes to complete the task and have to write two texts of about 50 words each.
  • The candidates for level B1 have 40 minutes to complete the task and have to write two texts of about 100 words each.
  • The candidates for level B2 have 60 minutes to complete the task and have to write two texts of about 150 words each.
  • The candidates for level C1 have 75 minutes to complete the task and have to write two texts of about 200 words each.

4- Reading Test

After reading the given text, the candidate should complete two tasks with ten items each so that the examiner can assess his or her reading comprehension. These tasks might be multiple-choice questions, matching, sentence completion, or short answer.

  • The reading comprehension test for A2-level candidates consists of 400-600 words.
  • The reading comprehension test for B1-level candidates consists of 500-700 words.
  • The reading comprehension test for B2-level candidates consists of 800-1000 words.
  • The reading comprehension test for C1-level candidates consists of 1000–1300 words.

The total time allocated for this part is 35 minutes for levels A2 and B1, and 45 minutes for levels B2 and C1. The number of words in the reading comprehension test varies between 400 and 1300 based on the level.

C- When and Where Can You Take the Bulgarian ETC Exam?

The Bulgarian ETC exam can be taken two times per year, in June and December. In Bulgaria, the exam center is located in Varna. The examination fee for this test varies by location.

4. Foreign Language Proficiency Exam (FLPE)

A- General Information About the Exam

The Foreign Language Proficiency Exam (FLPE) is intended only for students enrolled in the New York University’s Graduate School of Arts and Science. Through it, the students demonstrate foreign language skills required for their graduation.

B- Specific Information About the Test

FLPE consists of only one task: The candidate should translate one to three paragraphs of Bulgarian text into English. They can make use of a print dictionary. The duration of this Bulgarian language exam is 2 hours and the grading system is Pass/Fail. Students must follow the standards of written academic English to receive a Pass grade.

The FLPE Test Consists of Translation

C- When Can the Bulgarian FLPE Exam be Taken? 

The FLPE exam is administered by the Office of Academic and Student Affairs of the Graduate School of Arts and Science, and takes place three times per year: in March, August, and November. Upfront registration is required.

D- What is the Fee for Taking this Exam?

The registration fee is $25 and should be paid within four days of registering for this exam. There are three ways to pay the New York University: by submitting the fee in person, via a money order, or via postal mail.

5. Official ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)

A- General Information About the Exam

The ACTFL OPI test is a reliable way to assess the language knowledge of a person in the form of an interview. It’s conducted by a certified ACTFL tester who leads the one-on-one interview for about 30 minutes. The best part about the test is that it’s adapted to the speaker’s abilities and preferences, and it’s interactive enough to make the candidate feel relaxed during the exam.

The OPIc version of the ACTFL test is conducted online through the so-called “live” OPI, and is led by a computer program. However, Bulgarian is not yet included in this internet-based version.

The assessment of the Bulgarian exam can be used for various purposes, such as: employment selection, college credit, placement, linguist and teacher credentialing, etc.

    ► If you’re interested in learning how to apply for a specific job in Bulgarian, BulgarianPod101.com offers a series of lessons dedicated to job interviews.

B- Specific Information About the Bulgarian OPI Test

The OPI Test Is Conducted by Phone

The OPI test is conducted by a certified ACTFL tester in the form of a telephone conversation that lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. During this conversation, the tester identifies the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses in various language aspects. The conversation follows a strict protocol and structure that ensures the assessment is reliable.

It consists of four parts: Warm-up, Level checks, Probes, and Wind-down. Here’s more information about what each of these parts involves:

  • Warm-up – This phase is an introduction to the exam. It includes greetings, conversation openers, and other informal pleasantries.
  • Level checks – During this phase, the tester involves the candidate in conversation on different topics that the speaker is interested in to check his level. Each check looks at different linguistic tasks that the candidate should succeed at.
  • Probes – This phase is intended to reveal the limits of the candidate’s proficiency by raising the level higher. When the speaker reaches the point that he or she can no longer sustain functional conversation, the interviewer can clearly see the limits of the candidate’s skills and knowledge.
  • Wind-down – This is the final phase, and it’s designed to return the candidate to the language level he or she is most comfortable with. The OPI exam ends on a positive note.

There are three possible scales for assessment, which are:

    ► The ACTFL scale that determines the candidate’s level somewhere between Novice and Superior
    ► Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale with five levels between ILR 0 (No Proficiency) and ILR 5 (Functionally Native)
    ► The CEFR scale that determines the candidate’s level between A1 and C2

C- What is the Fee for Taking this Bulgarian Language Exam?

There are two versions of the exam, and the fee is determined based on your choice. These are:

  • The certified OPI exam, which is conducted by two raters. The official OPI certificate costs $136.88. 
  • The commercial OPI test that’s conducted by one rater and costs $109.12.

6. How BulgarianPod101 Can Help You Prepare for the Test

To pass your Bulgarian language exam successfully, you need to thoroughly prepare for it. Researching your preferred language test is very important, so that you’ll know in advance what requirements you have to conform to. Fortunately, BulgarianPod101.com has already done this research for you in this Bulgarian proficiency test guide, and we’ve provided you with the most important details about each Bulgarian language test you might be interested in taking. 

Now, we would also like to give you the best tips to pass your Bulgarian exam:

  • To get ready for your exam, you should spare at least 30 minutes a day for preparation. Don’t wait until the last minute, as you won’t have enough time to cover all of the required materials.
  • Make your test preparation fun by studying topics in Bulgarian that you’re interested in. This will definitely enrich your vocabulary and allow you to have fun at the same time. Moreover, some of the Bulgarian exams are based on the candidates’ favorite topics and hobbies, so it’s an advantage to learn as much of the vocabulary related to your hobby as possible. 
  • Don’t be mediocre in your preparation. Do as much as you can to learn the more-complex details of Bulgarian. Your extra effort will pay off during the exam.
  • Try to start using new words and phrases, as well as new grammar rules, immediately. The sooner you get used to them, the better; this is because using them right away ensures that they’ll become a part of your daily life. Use them multiple times per day until you’re confident using them.
  • While you do your daily chores, try to think about what you’re doing in Bulgarian. For example:

      ❖ Сега мия чиниите. (Sega miya chiniite.) — “Now, I wash the dishes.”
      ❖ А сега пускам пералнята. (A sega puskam peralnyata.) — “And now, I start the washing machine.”
      ❖ След това ще прибера масата. (Sled tova shte pribera masata.) — “Then, I will clear the table.”
  • If you don’t know some of the words you encounter, you can check them in your dictionary and repeat them until you remember them well. Another good option is to write new words on sticky notes and look at them every time you practice. This is a great option because it will also help you remember the right way to spell them.
  • Speak with your Bulgarian friends only in Bulgarian. Do not turn to English as soon as you meet difficulties.
  • Try to find some past Bulgarian exam papers online, so you can test your abilities. To avoid any surprises, show up more than ready for the test!

7. Conclusion

At BulgarianPod101.com, we believe that this Bulgarian proficiency test guide will help you get ready for any of the four Bulgarian language exams. However, you might still be interested in hiring a Bulgarian language expert who will better prepare you for your upcoming Bulgarian exam. You can choose your native Bulgarian teacher from our MyTeacher program to increase your chances of passing the test.

We would love to hear your opinion about this guide. Do you feel ready to pass a Bulgarian exam now, or do you need more information or practice? Let us know in the comments!

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