Passing the Civic Integration Exam B1 requires an understanding of 4400 Dutch words. Besides, you should be able to speak in complex sentences, with correct word order. Focus on vocabulary and word order: the two requirements for success. Learn more about the new B1 exam in this blog.
Estimated reading time 8 minutes
Margreet Kwakernaak, author of Dutch for Dummies and 7 other textbooks on Dutch
Passing the new Civic Integration Exam needs additional language requirements
Are you an expat and planning Dutch citizenship?
First of all: read Civic Integration Questions 2022 to know which level is required for you.
Secondly: A2 is a lower language level than B1, and in 2023 the Dutch Government requires the higher B1 level for Dutch Citizenship.
Passing the new Civic Integration Exam B1 – What is the exam like?
Despite warnings of experts in integration policy, the Dutch government decided to increase the language requirements to B1. The exam to be passed is an existing one: State Exam NT2 Programme I
As an experienced teacher, I could write a novel about this exam, but to be short: it’s 25 years old and it shows its age. One part of the writing exam focuses on word order – which requires more grammatical knowledge than most actual teachers teach.
Though I expect this exam to be updated sooner or later, now, in 2022, students and teachers have to deal with the actual form. What does this B1 exam require?
Speaking and writing in the Civic Integration Exam B1 must be done in complex sentences in correct word order
Firstly, Speaking and writing at level A2 is mainly talking and writing about your daily life. Level B1 however, demands much more. Next to subjects related to daily life, the speaking and writing B1 parts include giving your opinion, giving instructions, and reporting work or an event.
Secondly, in Integration Exam A2, you can speak and write in short and simple sentences. Some sporadic conjunctions like en or maar guarantee success.
On the other hand, at level B1 more complex sentences are required. In the A2 level as described in Language Levels CEFR , en, want, maar en of, followed by the correct word order are required
Moreover, at level B1, using omdat, dat, hoewel en als, followed by the appropriate word order should be mastered for 75%.
What do I need 4400 words for? Passing the new Civic Integration Exam B1
To clarify this, a bit of history is needed. The original exam State Exam NT2 Program I was the entrance exam to lower intermediate professional education, mbo. Besides, the State Exam NT2 Program II at level B2 was the entrance exam to higher intermediate professional education, hbo, and to University.
Both exams continue being entrance exams. However, they have a second function nowadays. Both exams are Civic Integration Exams as well. Each of them entitles you to a permanent residence permit or a Dutch passport.
As a consequence of their role as entrance exams, each exam has its characteristic subjects: State Exam Program I has subjects related to work – mostly work at an intermediate level.
So it makes sense that the subjects of State Exam Program II are related to different sciences. Fortunately, in both exams, the subjects can be understood by anybody with a broad range of interests – and the required number of words. As mentioned, for the B1 program 4400 words are needed. However, for the B2 program 12.000 are required.
Which are the subjects in the B1 reading exam? Education, work, popular sciences, and technology
Let’s dive deeper into the reading part. We report about the two latest B1- exams, 2020 and 2021
The reading exam at level B1 takes 110 minutes. It includes 6 -7 texts, and you have to answer 36-40 multiple-choice questions.
The subjects of the 2021 and 2020 reading exams can be reparted in 4 categories:
work, education, popular sciences and technology. See the table of content for the exact subjects.
All information about this exam, is to be found at Staatsexamens NT2 On the page ‘Voorbereiden’ you find proof exams and example exams. As soon as you try your first reading exam, you’ll not that some subjects are pretty specific and use professional language. Fortunately, the more specific the texts are, the more global are the questions! No need to understand every line.
In a good exam training you learn how to tackle the texts – searching for keywords in questions, answers and the texts.
Users of the Delft method have a head start on the B1 exam. The method has been developed by TU Delft, Technical University Delft. It has been written for technical students and it gives extra information about Dutch technology related to water. Read more about this subject in the Delft method and KNM.
The listening subjects are all about work: jobs at an intermediate level
As the jobs relate to a wide scale of jobs, a broad vocabulary is needed. As far as technical terms are used, the interviewees explain them. Some parts of the listening exams are videos: pictures are a great help in understanding what it is about.
4400 words to pass the B1 exam – how to learn
As mentioned before: words are the basics of language learning. A good app like Duolingo is a nice start. Moreover, it is a good addition to any other language method for learners up to level A2. Word learning: make it part of your daily life tells you how to make word learning into a daily routine. You will enjoy this habit for the rest of your language life! With this habit even native speakers continue learning new words every day – highly educated native speakers know over 50.000 words at the end of their lives.
Passing the Civic Integration Exam B1- how to remember 4400 words
The main rule for remembering words is simple: use them! Use it or lose it is essential in second language learning: when you don’t use your newly learned language, you’ll forget it.
The second rule is last in, first out. It means that the language you learned most recently will disappear soon – in case you don’t use it. Language research showed that our brains need exercise: we have to use a new word seven times before it will be stored. But, our language warehouses need maintenance: we should repeat or, even better, reuse the words. The more we use the language, the better it is retained in our brains: long-term memory is stronger than short-term memory.
Read more about it in How to remember words; the seven steps
The B1 exam requires a correct word order – how do I get it?
Dutch word order is totally different from English as well as many other languages. Speakers of Roman languages, like Spanish, have to fight for correct Dutch word order. For Turkish, Chinese, Vietnamese – just to mention a few of the nationalities I have been teaching- word order is a recurring point of attention.
Fortunately, Dutch word order is a piece of cake for Germans, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegians- as Dutch belongs to the German language family,
Proper word order can be required by listening and reading a lot. However, that process may take several years. Moreover, many students never reach the point of speaking correctly without some grammar and the help of a good teacher. Basic Dutch word order gives you some rules and the teacher should provide you with a lot of exercises. Additionally, that teacher should be correcting to the point where the student can self-correct.
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- Passing the Civic Integration Exam B1 requires two main skills: you must have a vocabulary of 4400 words, using complex sentences with correct word order.
- Though the A2 level of the Civic Integration Exam could be reached by self-study and the help of volunteers, reaching the B1 levels requires double effort and professional help, especially in the fields of writing and speaking. When your native language is not German, it will take you years of hard work to acquire the correct word order. For The Delft method students, Suitcase talen offers two optional modules on grammar and word order.
- The Delft method focuses on vocabulary. In each Lesson, you learn 50 new words, in useful and communicative sentences. You prepare your classes with the e-learning and at Suitcase talen you practice in two short but intensive online conversation classes per week.
Students of Suitcase talen are highly educated expats, working full time or taking care of children. Online classes are in the evening. Read more in Suitcase talen Courses .