Specialist Language Tests

Since October 2015, the Ärztekammer Hamburg (Hamburg Medical Association) has been conducting specialist language tests on behalf of the Behörde für Arbeit, Gesundheit, Soziales, Familie und Integration (Authority for Labour, Health, Social Affairs, Family and Integration [“Social Security Office”]) as part of the procedure for granting a licence to practise medicine.

These tests serve as proof of the necessary language skills for foreign doctors who have completed their training outside Germany. The specialist language tests have to be passed at Level C1 under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

The Verein für interkulturelle Bildung Hamburg e. V. (IBH - Association for Inter-Cultural Education Hamburg) offers training in preparation for these tests. You can find information (e.g. courses, dates, costs, participation requirements) on the IBH website and the IQ Netzwerk Hamburg (IQ Network Hamburg).

N.B.: Please remember to file applications for financial support for your specialist language test before registering and, in particular, before taking the test.


The competent Authority for Labour, Health, Social Affairs, Family and Integration (“Social Security Office”) is responsible for processing applications for the granting of a licence to practise medicine. When the competent authority has properly checked the application for a licence to practice medicine and deems a specialist language test necessary, it will send the Ärztekammer Hamburg the required data.

After receiving the data, the Ärztekammer Hamburg normally contacts the applicant by email and asks them to transfer the requisite administration fee.

Once the fee has been paid, you will receive a written invitation to take the test at the premises of the Ärztekammer Hamburg. This will include all other important information in addition to the test date.

If you are late or do not turn up, the test result will be a fail, regardless of the reason. A new date can be arranged at the earliest after three months.

Test process

The 60-minute test is divided into three sections, each lasting 20 minutes.

1. Doctor/patient discussion
2. Documentation
3. Doctor/doctor discussion

1. Doctor/patient discussion - medical history
The candidate asks a patient about their medical history. A doctor from the panel of examiners plays the role of the patient.
A real day-to-day doctor/patient consultation is simulated.
The patient’s medical history is taken in exactly the same way as set out in the curriculum for trainee doctors. Initially, the candidate forms an impression of the patient, explains their suspected diagnosis and makes further recommendations to the patient about diagnostics and treatment. The candidate is required to explain the measures they consider appropriate to the patient and respond to questions. It is important that the patient is able to understand the doctor to be assessed easily and well.

2. Documentation
In the second section, the candidate is required to legibly transfer the information gleaned about the patient’s medical history in the first section to a pre-printed form by hand within 20 minutes.

3. Doctor/doctor discussion - doctor’s round
The third section of the test simulates a doctor's round. Here, the candidate meets the fictitious head - and/or senior consultant - and has a collegial discussion about the “patient admitted” in the first section. The candidate presents the patient to their medical colleague(s) based on the notes made at the beginning.
The person the candidate is speaking to is a medical colleague, so they communicate in medical jargon. The candidate should also explain their own assessment of the situation and their ideas about further treatment.
After presenting the patient, the medical colleagues ask questions in a joint discussion.
The test concludes with a short vocabulary test of 15 medical terms that have to be translated into German.

Test assessment

The panel of examiners decides jointly whether the candidate has passed based on an evaluation sheet.

This evaluation sheet consists of 4 parts

- General professional communication
- Doctor/patient communication
- Written expression
- Doctor/doctor communication

12 minus points means that the candidate has failed. The particularly important test content is shaded and included in the assessment 4:1 compared with the fields not highlighted in colour.

Aids during the test
A notepad and a pencil are provided by the Ärztekammer Hamburg (ÄKHH). The notes are not included in the test assessment. No other aids are permitted.

The result of the test is sent to the candidate promptly by email and reported to the competent authority. Further processing is carried out there.
In the event of a fail, the specialist language test can be repeated after satisfying the conditions imposed.