To become a Norwegian citizen, most people will have to pass an exam in social studies or the citizenship test. Here's what you need to know.
Prompted by the final Brexit deal, I am now in the process of ticking off all the boxes required to apply for Norwegian citizenship. This week I took—and passed—the Norwegian citizenship test.
No, that doesn't mean I'm a Norwegian yet! But it is an important step on the way.
Simply put, the test is a multiple-choice exam taken on a computer in a controlled environment at a test centre. It is designed to test your knowledge of Norwegian society.
What is the citizenship exam?
Norway's citizenship test (statsborgerprøve) is one of the two possible tests you must pass before you can apply for Norwegian citizenship.
The other is the social studies test (samfunnskunnskapsprøve), generally taken by people who have been through the social studies course for immigrants. I believe this test is free for people who had a right and duty to take the social studies course, including refugees.
Citizenship requirements depend on many factors, so you should check which exam(s) you are required to take with UDI.
The tests are available in multiple languages. However, to use the exam result for a citizenship application, it must be taken in Norwegian. The tests are available in both bokmål and nynorsk, the two written variants of the Norwegian language. You can take the test in other languages for other uses, such as for some categories of residency.
What I'm talking about in this article is the citizenship exam in Norwegian, but much of it applies to the social studies exam too.
What's in the citizenship test?
The test consists of 36 questions, each with three possible answers. The full syllabus is available at http://samfunnskunnskap.no/ and the information here is enough to revise from.
Themes include history, geography, the Norwegian way of life, children and family, health, education and learning, working life, democracy and the welfare society.
My personal experience is that one-third of the questions are easy and/or common sense, one-third should be knowable—or at least guessable—if you have lived in Norway for several years, while one-third require some specialist knowledge and/or prior study.
For example, do you know at what age Norwegians are required to start paying for dental care? Or what the longest river in Norway is? How about what percentage of students in Norway are female? Or the average age Norwegians get married for the first time?
I think the passing grade—24/36—is relatively low. I think most people who haven't taken the social studies course should be able to pass with just a few hours' study. However, don't take my word for it!
How to prepare for the exam
If you are taking the citizenship text, it's likely you have not been through the social studies course. Depending on how long you have lived in Norway and your interest in domestic affairs, you may find the test easy or difficult.
Having run a website about Norway for many years, I was familiar with much (but not all) of the material. This means it's hard for me to say how difficult the test would be for others! You need to judge that based on your own circumstances.
The best thing to do is to browse the information on http://samfunnskunnskap.no/. Pay particular attention to the themes you are less familiar with. As a childless adult immigrant, I had no experience of the Norwegian education system or the healthcare system for childbirth, children and young people, so I focused my attention there.
If you feel your knowledge of Norwegian society is strong, start by taking the example exam available online. You'll get the result immediately, which will indicate how much preparation you need to do for the real thing.
In my case, I scored a passing grade (just). However, it was useful in showing me the areas in which I needed to improve my knowledge before taking the test for real.
Registering for the test
Testing is arranged by individual municipalities. However, registration is done centrally via the online booking system at Kompetanse Norge. It's the same system used for the registration of Norwegian language tests.
You select your municipality then choose from the available tests. In Trondheim, the tests were held monthly with limited capacity, so I had to wait approximately 2.5 months from when I booked to the first available test date. This may not be the case in smaller municipalities.
Municipalities set the price. In Trondheim, the test fee was NOK 750, which I paid online during the registration process. Registration is binding and the only way to cancel and be entitled to rebook for free is with a medical certificate.
I believe those taking the social studies exam can book via their course provider and/or directly with the test centre.
Approximately two weeks before the exam, you receive a confirmation SMS detailing the location, date and start time of the test.
On the day
My exam was scheduled to start at 8.30am but we were asked to arrive at least 30 minutes in advance. It took place in one of the computer rooms at Trondheim's snazzy new Adult Education Centre.
The examiner began processing us at 8am and by 8.15am we were all registered, seated and were able to start the test early.
Face masks had to be worn along with the use of antibac when entering and leaving the room. The capacity was limited with the middle seat out of use. This meant there were only around 12 people in the exam.
Upon entering the room and showing photo ID, I was given a personal login to the online exam system. Once everyone had logged in, the examiner gave us a ‘daily password' that we needed to begin the exam to ensure that everyone started at the same time.
Phones had to be turned off and put away, and no talking was permitted once the test had begun.
You have 60 minutes to complete the test but it's unlikely you'll need anything like that much time. I took around 20 minutes to complete the 36 questions and four people had already finished and left before me.
Citizenship test results
I am unsure if every test centre operates in this way, but we were told our pass/fail result immediately before we left the room. The final result and test certificate will be sent by post in approximately two weeks.
Once I clicked submit and logged out of the system, the examiner checked his own system and confirmed that I had passed. That was a relief as everyone else who had already left the room had also passed!
FAQ about the Norwegian Citizenship Test
Do I need to take the citizenship exam? If you are applying for citizenship, probably. Citizenship requirements depend on many factors, so you should check which exam(s) you are required to take with UDI.
Do I get citizenship when I pass the exam? No. The exam is just one requirement for the citizenship application process. Most people also need Norwegian language exams, for example.
Can I take the exam in English? Not for citizenship. The study material is available in many languages, but if you are taking the exam for a citizenship application, it must be done in Norwegian. The test is also facilitated in Norwegian. You can book the social studies test in other languages for other purposes, such as some forms of residence permit.
Will I help you practice for the test? No, sorry! However, the information on this page should help. It is everything I wish I'd known before taking the test myself. Lykke til!