27 maj 2011

Polish certificate exams

Since Poland has opened to the world, more and more people are interested in learning Polish and living here. A need to certify the language skills has occured. In 2004 the Polish certificate exams were introduced for the first time. Now they are organized regularly in Poland and abroad. You can take them in Warszawa and Kraków or any place in the world if there are minimum 20 candidates.

The exams test language skills on the 3 levels: B1, B2 and C2 (the highest possible). These names origin from the EU language standard established by the Council of Europe. They are explained briefly also on the official website of the Polish certificate. I don’t want to copy all the information provided there. What is important – everybody can take them unless you are a Polish citizen (but if you permanently reside abroad, it’s possible). The minimum age is 16 (B1, B2) and 18 (C2). Probably it’s because you need to have a certain knowledge about the world to understand texts on the test but I’m not sure it’s the best idea.

The main question is - do I really need a certificate? Why should I do that? There are of course internal and external reasons. External – if you would like to study and work in Poland, it can help a lot. A certificate can convince an employer in any kind of job. In some professions there is an official requirement – nurses, doctors, civil servants, real estate agents, property managers and appraisers have to speak Polish at certain levels.

Internal reasons are even more important. I’ve passed FCE and CAE – the Cambridge Exams in English so I know this topic quite well. For me these huge and stressful exams were very motivating. I've learnt a lot during preparations and I have very nice memories from that period. The satisfaction with the results is incomparable to anything else:) Even if I hadn’t had any further benefits I would have taken them to feel more self-confident in English. So I recommend taking the Polish exams to everybody. Yes, I know, doing the same exercises can be boring but the effort is worth it!

And this is what my student Lukas thinks about it: "The Polish Language Exam was to me a kind of confirmation of my learning progress. I was sure, that I would continue learning Polish, but it always leaves you better off, I thought, if you have a state's certificate. The exam lasts two days, first you must listen, read and write and fill in the grammar exercises, second you meet the commission and talk to them for 15 minutes. The whole examine, hence, lasts for more than 4 hours. It's hard to equally concentrate during such a long time, however the exercises are compact and you just do one after another. Obviously one has to be well-prepared, but being able to concentrate and to properly understand the questions is even as important. The parts themselves aren't too difficult, but the combination and number of exercises, challenging you from different directions, is really demanding. If you manage, however, it gives you a very good and overall feedback about your level of proficiency in Polish language. And a good feeling too ;-)"

On the website you have sample tests. Fortunately there are more and more books on the market to help you in preparations. The list is available here. The best idea is to learn with a teacher because language nuances get more and more complex on the advanced level. Polish native speakers are in most cases not able to explain them.

The exam statistics are very interesting. What a pity that the names of the countries hasn’t been translated into English;) Try to guess what countries are Włochy and Węgry:) It’s clear that our neighbours are those who take exams most often. It’s also not a surprise that women are more likely to pass it
than men because they generally study more.

What is your experience? Do you have a certificate in Polish? Is it a good idea?

Useful vocabulary:
zdać egzamin – to pass the exam
zdawać egzamin – to take the exam
zdający/zdająca – an examinee

11 komentarzy:

  1. I also heard that an 'A2' level exam is in the pipeline? I hope so because that's more my level!

    Very informative post =)

  2. Thanks!

    I know nothing about the A2 exam and I hope you're right!

  3. Paulina, thanks for this great post. I'm not at B2 level yet but I hope to be in . . . in time! I think setting a goal of writing the B2 exam is a wonderful idea. I shall set it as my new goal. Next, to establish a timeline. Great to see you keep blogging, and thanks for the strawberries recipe too!

  4. Thank you for motivating me to write:) B2 is a great goal! Fingers crossed!

  5. Ha! Did I say B2? I meant B1 of course!!!

  6. Lukas did B1 and now he's preparing for B2, you will do the same:)

  7. Very interesting and something I am certainly thinking about in due course.

  8. Hi all,
    I will apply for the exam B1 in few month, i am scared from the writing and oral part, anyone who already did the exam, please tell me your experience. how fluent i am supposed to be? how much good in writing? any useful advice? i have finished books hurra 1,2 and 3. I can pass the tests in Badz na B1, but i am postponing the exam because i am scared from writing and oral parts.

  9. Hi, I am planning to give B1 exam in next year.I am looking for sample test but could not found.Link which you have provided also showed error of page not found. May you please provide me correct link to sample test.


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