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Examinations and Tests

Frequently Asked Questions About the Estonian Language Proficiency Examinations

1. Language skills levels – what are they?

Language skills levels are the six levels of language proficiency (A1–C2) developed by the Council of Europe and described in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. These levels are used to measure foreign language proficiency. Learn more here. Mother tongue proficiency is assessed with the help of other means.

2. Who are Estonian language proficiency examinations for?

These examinations are for the employee whose mother tongue is not Estonian and who needs to prove his/her employer that he/she speaks the Estonian language at the level required at his/her job position. Learn more about Estonian language proficiency requirements at different positions here.

3. Which parts does the examination consist of and how long does the examination last?

The examination consists of four parts: writing, listening, reading, and speaking. Depending on the level, the written part of the examination lasts 2-3 hours and, after a short break, it is followed by speaking. Learn more HERE.

4. Where can I find learning materials and examination sample tests?

You can find learning materials HERE. We also recommend you to visit the language proficiency testing environment TESTEST and the language learning environment KEELEKLIKK. Before the examination we also recommend to attend a free of charge consultation where consultants will answer all your questions.

5. How many points do I need to score to pass the examination?

In order to pass the examination you need to get at least 60 per cent of the total sum of the examination points provided. The score can not be 0 for any of the examination parts (listening, reading, writing, and speaking).

6. Which level of Estonian language proficiency is required to apply for the Estonian citizenship or a long-term residence permit?

At least B1.

7. If I graduated from university (finished basic or secondary school) with the Estonian as the language of instruction, do I still have to take an Estonian language proficiency examination?

No, you do not! If you finished Estonian-medium basic or secondary school or graduated from Estonian-medium university, your Estonian language proficiency is proven by your graduation certificate.

8. Which level do the previously received beginner’s, intermediate and advanced levels of language proficiency (including the levels of basic and secondary school leavers) correspond now?

People who passed the Estonian language proficiency examination before 1 July, 2008 do not have to re-take the examination. Their certificates of Estonian language proficiency correspond to the language levels of the new system as follows:

  • The language proficiency proven with the beginner’s level certificate is considered equal to B1 level of language proficiency.
  • The language proficiency proven with the intermediate level certificate is considered equal to B2 level of language proficiency.
  • The language proficiency proven with the advanced level certificate is considered equal to C1 level of language proficiency.

Learn more here.

9. Why is there no examination for C2 level?

C2 is the highest foreign language proficiency level described in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This level is equal to the language proficiency at the level of an educated native speaker. Such a high level of proficiency in Estonian as a foreign language cannot be required at any position, and thus there is no examination for C2 level. If you read in a job advertisement that the position requires Estonian language proficiency at C2 level, please turn to the employer for clarification.

10. Does the examination include questions about the culture and history of Estonia?

The texts for reading and listening may include texts about the Estonian culture and history. These texts do not require you to have any previous knowledge of the history or culture, as the information necessary to complete the task is presented in the texts themselves.

11. What if I know nothing about the topics covered in texts for reading and listening?

You do not have to have any previous knowledge of these topics. You can find answers to all questions if you read/listen to the text carefully.

12. Why doesn’t the speaking part of B2/C1 level examination contain other topics besides employment for those who are still studying or are unemployed?

B2/C1 proficiency level examination measures the mastery of the professional Estonian language. That is the reason why the speaking part of the examinations of these levels includes employment-related topics.

13. Why am I not allowed to write in pencil at the examination?

In order to prevent cheating, examinees are allowed to write in the test book only in pen. If you write only in pencil or write in pen above writing in pencil, your work will not be assessed. L

14. When the essay in the Estonian language B2 and C1 proficiency level examination is marked, is the draft considered as an answer?

The draft sheet is meant for the examinee for taking notes, not for writing the examination answers. The draft will not be considered when an unfinished essay is being marked. An examination paper can be marked objectively only based on the text written by the examinee into the examination book at the appropriate place, not based on the draft.

15. Does it make any difference which examination contact point I take my examination at?

No, it does not. Examination test books are the same at all the examination contact points, and the examination procedure is also the same. Do not believe rumours saying that the examination is easier at one or another contact point.

16. How much does it cost to take the examination?

The examination is free of charge.

17. What do the percentage ranges on my certificate / notice of passing / notice of fail mean?

Your results in sub-skills are represented as percentage ranges and verbal assessments:

0% – noncompliant with the level requirements;
1–49% – noncompliant with the level requirements;
50–59% – poor;
60–75% – satisfactory;
76–90% – good;
91–100% – very good.

This means that if your speaking skills were, for example, given the verbal assessment “good”, the results of your sub-skills were between 76 and 90 percent.

18. If I fail the examination, when can I make a new attempt?

If you scored less than 35% of the possible amount of points, you can take the examination again in six months’ time.

19. Am I really not allowed to go to the toilet during the examination?

If during the written part of  the examination you will have a strong need to go to the toilet, you will be allowed to leave the room and you will be escorted to the toilet by a member of the examination panel (from the examination room to the toilet door).

20. I have taken the same proficiency level examination several times, but why does not my result improve?

Just taking the examination cannot improve your result. Your score is improved through learning and active use of the language. If you keep receiving low scores for the reading and listening parts, read newspapers, listen to the radio, and watch television in the Estonian language. If you fail the writing and speaking parts, then use the Estonian language whenever possible – in a shop, office or institution, or when communicating to your Estonian colleagues.  Before you take the examination, we also recommend you to attend language courses of the corresponding level. All these things will certainly help you to improve your examination result.

21. Can I see my examination paper?

Yes, you can see your examination paper at Innove. In order to do that you need to submit a corresponding application. Then a representative of the Foundation Innove will contact you in order to agree on the convenient meeting time. Learn more here.

You will see your examination paper exactly the way you submitted it at the examination. Assessors of the written part do not correct mistakes in your work, make comments or notes there. For clarification of your score for the written part, possible grammar mistakes or fulfilment of the task you can turn to the specialist who will be present while you are getting acquainted with your examination paper.

22. Can I take the examination if I have vision or hearing disabilities?

An examinee with special needs can take the examination in the form that is suitable for him/her. Learn more here.

23. What do I do if my conversation partner at the speaking part of the examination does not speak any Estonian?

Examiners know what to do in such a situation, and they will allow you to speak more or will talk to you themselves, if the other examinee does not speak Estonian enough.

24. What if my score was calculated wrongly?

Capturing of the answers for the reading and listening parts of the examination is duplicated, and, if necessary, is conducted for the third time as well. That is why you can be absolutely sure that your score is captured correctly. Writing and speaking are also assessed by two assessors, and if their scores differ significantly, the work is assessed for the third time. If you think that your examination paper was not assessed fairly, you have the right to make an appeal.

25. I scored 0 points for one task/both tasks of the writing part. How could it happen if I wrote so much?

Apparently you did not read the writing task carefully. For instance, you had to write a formal letter to your boss, but you wrote an informal letter to a friend. In this case the task itself remained unfulfilled and it could not be assessed.

26. Who controls validity of language proficiency tests?

The Foundation Innove is a member of the Association of Language Testers in Europe ALTE. ALTE controls validity of Estonian language proficiency tests.

27. Can the examiner interrupt the examinee during the speaking part of the examination?

During the speaking part the examiner interrupts the examinee’s monologue (turn to speak, presentation, etc.) only in the case when the examinee is deviating from the topic of the task too much. Then the examiner has to interfere at a convenient moment and try to make the examinee return to the topic with the help of suggestive questions. Usually such interruption situations occur at B2/C1 level examinations when the examinee starts presenting a learned by heart monologue which has nothing to do with the task the examinee has been given.

28. I sent an appellation to the Ministry of Education and Research as well as an application where I enquire an explanation for my score. However, the decision of the appellation committee did not contain any explanation. Why?

The appellation committee does not give you any explanations or answer your questions. If you have any questions regarding your examination paper or its assessment, if you want to be given explanation about the content or scores of your examination paper or about the examination in general, you need to submit Innove an application for getting acquainted with your examination paper. You can see your examination paper only on the premises of Innove in Tallinn.

If you have any other questions, please contact us via e-mail: info@innove.ee.

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