To receive a residence permission for an extended period of time the Dutch government requires some foreign citizens to take the Civic Integration Exam. It applies especially to those wishing to marry someone from Holland or to join their family already living in Holland.
This article tells about what is needed to successfully pass the exam. The applicants must prove a basic knowledge of the Dutch language and that they are familiar with Dutch culture and society. Their listening and speaking skills in Dutch are tested, as well as their ability to read and understand written text.
In both cases the level A1 of Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is required. The examinees do not have to write anything.
The exam itself consists of three parts and is conducted in Dutch language at an embassy or consulate general of the Netherlands in the country where the applicant lives. It is done via telephone that is connected to a speech-recognising computer.
Once the examination has started, it cannot be stopped or interrupted and the examinee cannot ask any questions. All the ambiguities have to be cleared with the embassy staff before the examination has been commenced.
The three parts of the exam are:
- Knowledge of Dutch Society (Kennis van de Nederlandse Samenleving)
- Spoken Dutch (Toets Gesproken Nederlands)
- Literacy and Understanding Written Texts (Geletterdheid en Begrijpend Lezen)
Part 1.Knowledge of Dutch Society
For the first part the examinee has to watch the film Naar Nederland - at home and preferably more than once. It will tell him/her all the basic information about life in Holland and what the Dutch society is like. Among of the topics covered in the film are e.g. geography, history, politics or education.
It also provides instructions how to take the Civic Integration Exam at an embassy. With the film goes an album containing 100 pictures and 100 questions to these pictures. The pictures are taken from the film, they are numbered and go in the order they appear in the film.
During the examination 30 questions will be asked. The movie can be watched in one’s native tongue (there are 18 languages available) or in Dutch, the questions at the exam will be in Dutch only. The answers also have to be given in Dutch.
Part 2. Spoken Dutch
In the second part of the examination - Spoken Dutch - there are several tasks assessing the understanding of spoken Dutch language.
They are divided into four groups:
- repeating sentences - this task appears twice
- answering short questions
- naming the opposites
- retelling two simple stories.
For the first three types of tasks the computer will give an example.
Again, the answers have to be in Dutch and said in a loud, clear voice. If it should happen that the examinee does not know the answer, he/she should not be quiet, but say “Ik weet het niet” ( “I do not know“) or something similar. If the computer does not hear any answer, it will assume that the connection has broken and will end the exam.
Part 3. Literacy and Understanding Written Texts
In the final part the examinee has to read out loud a set of words, sentences and texts from a booklet. There is also a task to finish a sentence with the correct word and a task to give answers to questions regarding a short story, altogether five different tasks.
The booklet with the texts will be provided by the embassy staff. The instructions and examples will be read by the speech computer.
When preparing for the Civic Integration Examination Abroad, there is a possibility to take a test exam from home. The test exam is shorter than the real exam at the embassy, but it gives one the idea of what the real exam looks like.
For the practice test one needs a TIN code from a Naar Nederland study package and a telephone. The best choice is a landline telephone. It is advisable not to use a mobile phone or Skype.
If the connection is interrupted during the examination or if the speech computer cannot hear the examinee properly, the results cannot be provided and the exam will have to be repeated with a new TIN code. After practice testing the examinees can look up their results on www.naarnederland.nl.
More information concerning the Civic Integration Examination can be found at the following web-sites: www.minbuza.nl - the site of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs www.naarnederland.nl - a website dedicated solely to the Civic Integration Examination and how to prepare for it.