25 February, 2010

The Entrance Exam

Today I had the exam to find out what level I am at with Dutch language and samenlevering (I'm not sure what the best word in English is for this. Maybe society?). The exam was at 11.30 in Almere, not far from the train station.

When I arrived at the office, there was no reception and no one around to check in with. I finally found a lady and found out where the exam was, so off I went only to find that it was actually another person's exam and I barged right in. Off to a good start then! It turned out that the examiner was running late, so I had to wait which was a bit of a shame because I could have still been at work, and if they had let me know I would have made other arrangements.

So I met my examiner, who was a lovely young lady. Very friendly and welcoming. The type of person that I would want to have as a friend to be perfectly honest. We sat down to begin the test, and first of all I was given a card with a long list of words to read aloud - for pronunciation. I didn't find it too difficult until the dreaded gefeliciteerd, which I really cannot say! I can sprout the Schipols and Goudas with the best of them, but gefeliciteerd trips me up every single time! You know how some people just can't say phenomenon or specific? That's me with gefeliciteerd. I don't even know how to spell it!

The second test as to fill in a form. First name, last name etc. Then came questions like: Do you think people should eat healthy food all of the time, yes or no? Give two reasons. And Do you play sport, and which sports do you play? After completing the form I was given a sheet with a small story that had missing letters from certain words. Like: Janice is jarig. Zij is 30 j___. There were sets of three stories whereby I had to find the correct words for the sentence. Not as easy as I would have thought because as much as I can understand, the vocabulary is my weak point. I just can't find the words to describe what I want.

After the writing test we took a small break and did something like an IQ test. There was a sheet with 30 questions and images where I needed to pick out the image that didn't 'match'. I had 7 minutes to complete it. Not sure why it was in the exam, but did it with not too many issues.

Then came reading. I was given some text to read, then had to answer questions. Quite easy actually. The first was a postcard, the second was an accident report in a newspaper, third was an advertisement for the UWV (Centerlink or social security) and the last was a notice about City Council working bees. I could understand quite a lot and think I managed quite well to answer the questions.

Next was listening. The first was a man at a pharmacy to collect medicine, the second was a couple getting to know one another at a party, and the third was a news item about car free days. I managed ok with the first two (I struggled with the questions at first because I didn't understand what she was asking), but the third was very difficult. Too much information crammed into a short time frame. I really couldn't get my head around much of it.

Lastly was samenlevering. Questions started out quite easy: Who is the queen, who is the prime minister, name three holidays in the Netherlands etc. Then it went on to ask about what you do if you want to change your license, what happens if you are asked for ID by the police and you don't have it (you get a fine, by the way), what you should do if there is a problem with your gas at home etc. Then, lastly was questions about children! But not to worry, pretty easy stuff. How old are they when they start and leave school, what is the name of school for children 5-12 and 12-18 etc. Then where do you take your children if you both work - I knew it was day care, but couldn't think of the words "kinder dagopvang ."

All in all it took me just on two hours to complete the test. I think that if you have almost no knowledge of Dutch you will take much less, because in each section you begin with easy questions that gradually get harder. Once you can no longer understand, you go onto the next set of questions. Somebody who has good fluency could easily take longer than two hours to complete the test.

The best news, I'm at level A2 - the level I need to have to pass the inburgering examen! So, I'm going to push myself to get through the exam as fast as humanly possible and then use the lessons to relax and actually enjoy learning at my own pace afterwards. Of course I need to find out if that is even a possibility. The City Council will probably stop funding the course once I pass the exam which would be incentive to draw it out over a longer period (to get my money's worth).

One thing I did notice, the woman at the Gemeente (prejudiced Anita) had noted on my file that I had asked why I should do the course and goodness only knows what else, so I was put in a position to set the situation straight and let her know exactly what Anita's reasons for me to study were....

I feel great now. I don't suck and my language skills are much better than I thought!


Fi said...

Starting to reap the rewards and build the confidence - way to go girl! You're an inspiration for me :-)

Connie Koorevaar said...

I guess it's biased for people with children, that's REALLY stupid. If you don't have kids you'd have no reason to know NOR CARE what the grade levels are called and when do they start and finish! :( I'm beginning to be scared!!!!

Unknown said...

Connie, you'll have no problems. It is literally what ages are the children (5 and 18), what are the different levels called (basis and middelbare) and where do you take small children if you work (kinder dagopvang). The hardest question was about fees. there are apparently fees you pay at the beginning of the year to the school and they are for school trips etc. The woman was really sympathetic about it knowing I don't have children, but your language level is well and truly high enough to get you through. Trust me. ;)

Valentijn said...

The IQ test was probably to assess how fast of a class you could handle. A friend of mine in Utrecht had to take a test there with the gemeente to get into the intensive class, but in Amersfoort they just wanted to know how much education I'd had, so they'd know if I have sufficient study skills.

alex said...

ehmmm.hi.I just started to read your blog.I am married to a sweet dutch girl and moving to nl in september.I want to ask whether u have to pay back the fee of the course back to the state?

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