The good news is that I found the exam centre and got there early (using Danish GPS on my phone and following directions from an artificial Danish voice!). I arrived so early that I even went to a local bakery and ordered a coffee an pastry, all in Danish without any problems at all. It felt great!
The bad news is that I found out the hard way that a photo travelcard that contains the same address as my public health insurance card is not valid. I had to hastily speak to the examiners and arrange my passport delivered. This was all done in nervous, broken Danish. But at least I could communicate in my target language! The protip that I have for anyone taking this exam is: always bring your passport.
The actual test was a lot harder than I thought. I was also thrown off by the way the exam was conducted. In the UK, when you are given an exam you must wait until everyone has the paper before you begin. The examinator will go to the front of the room and say something along the lines of “The exam starts now”. There was no cue of this kind, so in the first exam I lost out on a precious minute of the 25 minutes in the test. When subsequent exams were given out, you also just started when they were handed to you, again without any sort of cue. Finally, there was no clock in the room, there were no start and end times written on a whiteboard and there were no consistent reminders about how much time was left. The first exam had a “two minutes left” reminder, the second exam had a “five minutes left” reminder and the final exam had a “fifteen minutes left” reminder. I will make sure to bring a watch with me next time.
Læseforståelse 1 – Format: kort svar (short answer)
This should have been easy – it is an exercise in skimming and scanning a large text. The text was a brochure about volunteer work abroad. Sadly I ran out of time, only answering about 10 of the 15 questions. I was extremely nervous and had difficulty concentrating, and I guess thats just how it goes sometimes.
Læseforståelse 2 – Format: multiple choice
I felt that this went a little better. Typically this is a much harder reading test, because you have to read the texts very thoroughly and understand inferences and rewordings. Fortunately the texts themselves were about schooling and education in Denmark – a topic that I found very interesting and relevant, seeing that it is my ambition to one day be a teacher in this country.
Skriftlig fremstilling (free writing)
This test consists of two written exercises, where you have to write 200 words. In the first exercise, I had to write an e-mail to a fictional friend who was considering living abroad for a year. That went ok, because I’ve practised this kind of informal correspondence through real life penpals and also on previous exercises at my language school.
In the second written exercise, I was required to describe and comment about exercise and gender in Denmark. There was a graph showing how many men and women run regularly in the period from the late 70’s until the early 2000’s. Out of desperation I found myself rambling about how the emergence of internet and satellite/cable television in the mid 90’s brought about a rise in people trying out new things, such as running, because of the suddenly abundant information.
I will find out my grade in a few weeks, but honestly I am expecting a very low pass. I was very nervous on the day and it definitely affected my performance.
Surprisingly, I actually feel quite motivated for the upcoming oral exam next month. I’ve been reading about self compassion recently and even trying out some exercises. People often tell me that I am very hard on myself, and I am learning to be kinder and more understanding. The truth is that I tried my very best with what I had available to me.
The hard work that I’ve put into learning Danish can’t be taken away from me. A low grade, or even the worst case scenario – failing this exam, won’t suddenly wipe my memory of Danish knowledge. Around this time two years ago, I couldn’t even speak a single word of Danish! All of these things are worth remembering as I continue studying and developing this language.
I hope you’ve found this post interesting, and I’ll see you again next Sunday!