Norwegian test 101

I have been silent on this blog for a while because I was getting ready to take a Norwegian test in the hope to make it to the B2 level, which is like the « basic for foreigners if they want a life here » kind of deal. It’s the second time I pass it, and I can break it for you.

I passed the test through Kompetanse Norge, a directorate specialized in higher education that focuses a lot on foreigners’ education. You can take the test at specific moments during the year, and it’s all explained in details on the website, which is pretty great because they also give examples of tests and how to get ready for it pretty much.

Most people wait until they get a sufficient enough level to try to achieve the B2 level, which is a bit like saying you « can » speak and understand things happening around you. It’s not a super high level but mandatory to go into university here if you’re not a transfer student. You register for the B1-B2 level test and try to achieve the higher grade pretty much, as you get the results divided according to level. When I passed the test two years ago I had achieved a B1 level despite getting a B2 result to one of the tests, which is pretty good for a first time.

The test is divided in four sections that you take on two days. One day is for the reading understanding, oral understanding and writing exams, it takes around four hours in total. The oral and reading understanding tests are automatic, you get simple questions at first and then it progressively accelerates and gets harder, which is a pretty straightforward way to establish your level. The writing test comes in two steps: one is a « complaint » you’re sending an email about, it can be about your child’s kindergarten or the bus route, and the other is a detailed argumentation on a topic, a bit like sociology for beginners. The topics for this vary a lot, this time I had the choice between talking about the pros and cons of digital education or the idea of banning dialects from TV, radio and official instances.

The oral takes a bit the same shape as the writing test, except that it’s way more stressful (at least for me!) to have to speak in front of people taking notes on you. It’s pretty much you, another random candidate and two teachers who speak with you while judging your level. You get a simple question at first, like « what do you think of this? », then you have to discuss a topic with the random candidate. If the person speaks clearly and is structured, you’re lucky! The last part of the test is the most difficult, as it’s expected of you to speak at least five minutes in an organized way about a very typical Norwegian topic, often related to your opinion as a foreigner. It can get to very slippery territories, especially if you take into account Norwegians don’t like much hearing criticism. I got « Foreigners have to be as Norwegian as possible » for the test I took this week, and oh boy, I had a lot to say!

Examples of topics during the oral test

Then you have to wait around three weeks for the results, which is stressful but who never had to wait for important test results, am I right?

Little tips for people who wish to study and take that test. I trained and studied with Lingu online, they have competent teachers and ressources. There is also Folkeuniversitet for those who have more time, it’s a really good school apparently. You can listen to podcasts, watch Norwegian TV online, and train online, there is a ton of ressources out there. Lykke til!

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