PCE and EBAU are exams that high school students are required to take to be accepted into a Spanish university. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between PCE and EBAU.

PCE stands for Pruebas de Competencias Específicas (specific competency tests). EBAU stands for Evaluación del Bachillerato para Acceder a la Universidad (university access evaluation). Whether students need to take PCE or EBAU (or both) depends on their chosen university and each university will have different admission criteria depending on the country of origin.

PCE tests are administered by UNED (National University of Distance Education). UNED currently has 45 centres around the world where students can take the tests. There are also various UNED centres in Spain itself.

High school students from within the European Union may apply to take the PCE, as well as high school students from non-EU countries that have signed a reciprocity agreement with Spain. Non-EU students will be required to get formal recognition of their qualifications in Spain via the procedure of Homologación (Homologation) carried out by the Spanish Ministry of Education.  This can be organised via the MECD website or through the Spanish embassy or consulate in the home country.

Additionally, if the student’s country of origin is not Spanish-speaking, the university may also request official certification of your knowledge of the Spanish language. In Madrid, for example, a B2 level is required of the Common European Framework of References for Languages.

All PCE tests last for 90 minutes. Depending on the subject, some tests will require essays, some will require more succinct answers to questions, others drawings. PCE tests are taken in July and also in September. You can register here online.

Foreign students’ final high school grade (or studies equivalent to high school) counts for 60% of their qualification to enter a Spanish university. The remaining 40% of the grade is obtained from the PCE tests.


EBAU is also known as Selectividad (selectivity). These are the selection exams taken by Spanish high school students wishing to move on to university. Foreign high school students will only need to consider EBAU if their university of choice instructs them that it is a requirement of theirs.

EBAU selection exams are sat in June over a period of four days, with the option to re-sit if necessary in September.

Both the PCE and EBAU tests will require preparation. A guideline for the time it will take a student to adequately prepare for these tests is around six months. Previous exam papers are available online and various online courses to help prepare you can also be found.

Some Spanish universities require PCE, others EBAU, others PCE and EBAU. If you are looking to study in a Spanish university, the first step should be to inform yourself of the specific admission criteria of the university where you want to study.

The recommended route is to discuss your particular circumstances directly with the specific university. They will advise the subjects you should prepare for PCE or/and EBAU. Go Go Espana is here to help. Please get in touch if you require any assistance with anything related to PCE and EBAU.