In the last two posts of the series, I’ve talked about the two papers Reading and Listening, that are part of your Civic integration exams (Inburgeringsexams). But then, to be qualified for Dutch citizenship or permanent residence, you must have some knowledge of Dutch society.
Kennis van de Nederlandse Maatschappij (KNM) is a mandatory paper that you’ve to take to qualify for your Civic integration exams. As the name suggests, this paper tests your knowledge of Dutch society and culture. That sounds easy, isn’t it? I mean, you’re, after all, living in this society for quite some time now. You’re exposed to the Dutch way of life; you can read and understand ‘een beetje’ Dutch. So, it gives you an idea that tackling this paper should not be that difficult. And it isn’t, believe me. That is if you know how to approach this exam.
Information about the KNM exam
This is a computer-based exam lasting 45 minutes. You need to answer 43 questions. In the exam, you will usually watch small video clippings. The duration of the clippings is between 50 seconds to over a minute. The discussions are usually on topics related to Dutch society, customs, habits, and culture. You need to get acquainted with not only the way of life, but also with the values, rules, and several agencies working in the Dutch society. In other words, the topics covered are diverse, such as work and income, the education system, housing, and insurance. If you ask me, even if you’re not taking the exam, it is worth your time to learn about the society where you’re living!
KNM exam – start preparing early
You already know, by now, that the required level of language competency for all exams this year is A2. That includes your KNM paper too. One of the tips I give to my students is to start preparing for the KNM paper as soon as they reach A1 level. This paper also tests your reading skill, and usually, most of the students take this paper after clearing their Reading paper. By now, they have some experience in reading Dutch texts. However, the prescribed books on KNM sometimes include words that are rather difficult for A1-level students. Keep reading.
Self-study or KNM training?
A lot of people want to know if it is safe to do self-study or if it is better to take a KNM training course. Of course, that is a personal choice.
However, in my opinion, the books available on KNM are good enough for self-study. There are plenty of books available on Dutch culture and society. The book Welkom in Nederland, for example, is very comprehensive and quite suitable for preparing for this exam. If I were you, I’d start reading the book quite early, preparing small notes as you finish the chapters. Some students find the books too lengthy and boring. While I do partially agree with them, I’d say- books are still the best bet to tackle this component of the Inburgeringsexam!
Tips to tackle this exam
There are, of course, several ways to prepare for this exam.
The DUO website has got some good sample papers. Practising those will surely give you a good insight as to what is expected of you in the exam. Each book also gives you practice exams and online mock papers. You can do the exam training online and solve the practice questions as you finish reading each chapter. There is a very good website called Inburgeren.nl. Do check it out! By doing the assignments, you’ll surely learn more about the important topics you need to learn for the exam.
Discussing with the natives
Another great way to improve your knowledge about Dutch society and its customs is to discuss with the natives. The Netherlands has its own rules, systems, and way of doing things. While the books will surely provide information on various topics like visiting your doctor, the political system in the Netherlands, the different kinds of insurances, important Dutch organisations, etc., interaction with the natives on these topics can be helpful too.
Next week: How to tackle the Schrijven (Writing) paper
An article by Chaitali Sengupta. She is the founder of the language institute ON-POINT COMMUNICATIONS and gives online Inburgeringsclasses.