Prøve i Dansk 3: some thoughts and advice on the written exam

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WP_000209Update (14 March 2017): The 2017 spring Prøve i Dansk 3 written exam takes place 16 May. The autumn exam will happen on 14 November. The registration deadlines for these two exams are 6 March 2017 (for the 16 May test) and 4 September (for the 14 November exam).

As I gazed out at AaB’s emerald green field, dotted with gold foil, I noticed that the sign hanging above it was out of date. It stated ‘Danske mestre 1995-1999-2008’. “They need to add 2014,” I thought absentmindedly, as I sat at my table of two and reviewed the words on my vocabulary list for the last time. That’s right – I was not at Nordjyske Arena to watch a football match; I was there to take a Danish exam: Prøve i Dansk 3 (‘PD3’), to be precise.

Prøve i Dansk 3 is the final, national exam for students at Danish language schools around the country who are completing the third level of language study. (See my previous post on studying Danish in Aalborg in order to learn more about the system.) You do not have to be enrolled in a state-funded language school to take the exam but if you take it ‘independently’, i.e. not as a language school student, you may have to pay. According to the law, the municipality in which one resides can decide whether to charge ‘selvstuderende’ exam takers a fee. In 2014, the fee for taking Prøve i Dansk 1, 2 or 3 as an ‘independent’ is 1,246 kr.¹ The exam is given twice a year – in May/June and November/December. It takes place over two months not because the authorities cannot decide on a date but because there are two parts to the test: written and oral. One takes the written part first; if they pass, they ‘get to’ take the oral exam a few weeks later.

The written portion of PD3 actually includes two main parts: a reading comprehension exam, which tests how well you understand written Danish, and a writing exam, in which you are the one who does the writing. The reading portion is broken down as follows: 1) a ‘quick scan’ part for which you are given the information booklet/brochure of an actual Danish organization or institution, such as VUF (Voksenuddannelse Frederiksberg), and must answer 15 questions about the information contained in it within 25 minutes. The aim of this part is to see how quickly you can pick information out of an authentic document and accurately answer who/what/when/where/how (much/many) questions; and 2) an in-depth reading section that includes two related texts about which you have to answer seven multiple choice questions (given the focus on job-related Danish at sprogskoles in Denmark now, these generally deal with the topic of work, employment and the job market. However, that is still taken very broadly, so the links may be rather obscure, e.g. childcare, equal opportunities, gender balance, etc.) and a third, shorter text with eight missing words, where you have to identify the missing word (also multiple choice). The total time allowed for this portion is 65 minutes.

The writing section also has two parts. The first is an email you must write in response to an email written to you. The email you write must address all the questions asked in the original email and close with an appropriate sign-off. For the second portion, you have a choice between two options: 1) describing a diagram or table displaying a statistical trend and explaining the underlying reasons; or 2) developing an argument about a relatively broad topic, such as volunteering, work-life balance, etc. The time limit for this section is 2.5 hours and each text you write must consist of a minimum 200 words.

Our exam yesterday was held at Aalborg Stadium because there were so many registrants. We filled the two main lounges of the stadium; I would estimate there were 150-200 of us in attendance. Observing other test takers, I gauged varying levels of anxiety, which made sense as the stakes differed depending on each person’s situation. Some – maybe most (and I include myself in this group) – were there just to formally complete the language training they began one, two or more years ago. For us, passing is not even required but I will be the first to admit that not passing would feel pretty awful. Others, however, came to the exam knowing that only a 10 out of 12 would get them to the next level – for some, the studieprøven course, which prepares students to study at a Danish institution of higher education in Danish; for others, the next step in the process of becoming a certified doctor in Denmark or training to become a health aid worker, among, I’m sure, many other reasons for needing a certain score. Still others were there to complete the requirement for permanent residency, for which a specific grade is required (see here for more information).

What became clear to me very quickly as we milled about the testing room before the exam began was that people had come with varying amounts of information and advice from their teachers. Thus, I would like to share here some of the tips you may or may not get from your teacher/s at the Aalborg Sprogcenter before you take the test this fall/next year/even later [disclaimer: any of these might change for future exams – they are not set in stone – so check with Sprogcenter teachers or administration prior to arriving at the test location]:

1) You may write with either pen or pencil but if you use a pencil, make sure it has a very dark lead tip and prepare to press very hard while writing. When a friend and fellow test taker told me the day before the exam that her teachers had warned them to bring only a ball-point pen to the test, I nearly laughed, thinking this was a little too ‘micro-managing’ on their part. Now I’m glad she told me because I came prepared with an erasable pen and I didn’t have to focus on how dark or light my text was. The reason behind this is that they photocopy all pages of the exam and your writing must come out clearly when copied.

2) You are allowed to bring any dictionaries you choose to use during the written part of the exam. Two friends (perhaps more) misunderstood that they could only bring a Dansk Ordbog (i.e. dictionary solely in Danish) with them. While test takers are strongly encouraged to bring a Danish dictionary, you can bring Danish-English, Danish-Spanish, etc. dictionaries instead/as well. I saw people with a 1.5 foot stack of three dictionaries – Danish, Danish-native language, Native language-Danish – at the ready. Please note: the exam officials also provide each person with a verb list (verbs in infinitive, present, past and past-perfect tenses) to use during the written portion.

3) Your mobile phone will be confiscated when you are shown to your seat. Bring a wristwatch if you want to monitor your time! Each test taker is asked to turn off and put his/her mobile in an envelope provided and write his/her CPR number on the envelope for collection after the exam. This is to prevent 1) people from using Google translate or other online translation service during the exam; 2) people from taking photos of the exam (I would imagine); and 3) any embarrassing interruptions during the exam.

4) You may consume food and drink during the exam.

5) There were about 5 minutes between part 1 and 2 of the reading comprehension portions of the exam. There was then a 15 minute break between the reading comprehension and writing parts. The exam finished at 13:30, although we were told to block off 8:15 until 14:00. You can leave early if you finish the writing part ahead of time.

6) There are many things you can do to prepare for the exam. Depending on whether you are enrolled at Aalborg Sprogcenter, you will get more or less help in getting ready. If you are a student at the school, there is quite a difference, as well, depending on which class you are enrolled in – day vs. evening course, how long you’ve been in the last stage of the 3rd level of Danish, who your teacher is, etc. Friends in the day course took several practice exams in the weeks leading up to PD3; I took perhaps two reading comprehension practice tests and did 3 or 4 writing exams as homework. I think the best advice I was given by my teachers was to read, read, read as much Danish news as possible, e.g. politiken.dk, nordjyske.dk, samvirke.dk. And build your vocabulary. Especially on the final portion of the reading comprehension test, when you have to identify the missing word in a sentence, there are some words that appear in nearly all exams over the last few years. Here is a list of words I identified by combing through 5 or 6 prior PD3 exams and picking out the words I was unsure of: 100 word vocab list for PD3. [Please note: this is in no way an official list endorsed by a Danish language school; it is based on words with which I felt I needed to become more familiar. That said, I’m really glad I prepared in this way as it made it easier for me to get through the various texts – many of these words came up more than once.] And here are instructions on the exam produced by the government.

I came away from the exam relatively confident that I passed but knowing that I made mistakes. Ah well – it’s all part of learning, right? Stay tuned for part two of this post – the oral exam, which I will publish after my oral exam on 16 June.

¹ See http://uvm.dk/Uddannelser/Uddannelser-til-voksne/Overblik-over-voksenuddannelser/Dansk-for-voksne-udlaendinge/Danskproever-til-voksne-udlaendinge for more information.

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24 thoughts on “Prøve i Dansk 3: some thoughts and advice on the written exam

    […] oral part of PD3 (mundtlig eksamen) takes place after the written section (which you can read about here). A few weeks after, in fact. We took that portion on 20 May, received the results a couple weeks […]

      Hafiz said:
      May 5, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      Hi,
      Can some body help me to provide written emails for pd3 prøve

    Rose said:
    January 6, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Thank you so much for the info.

      sarahinjylland responded:
      January 6, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      You are very welcome. I hope it’s helpful!

    […] citizenship. These include passing Prøve i Dansk 3 (instead of 2) – see my post on this test here and here; a more difficult citizenship exam (and higher passing mark); and proving that one has […]

    Filipinonurse said:
    January 31, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    This is such a helpful post. This could save me. Thank you. I hope i could meet one person that passed this test and coach me. I am soooo desperate to land a job in hospital before my visa expires that i need to pass this in a suicidal attempt.

    Do you think i can take this with module 3.2 level in sprogskole?

    I would love to hear more about this especiallt VERBAL test portion.. i need to have score of 10 which i impossible. … soooo strict for foreign nurses to get in denmark to be a certified one here.

      sarahinjylland responded:
      January 31, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      Hi Filipinonurse – How long have you been in Denmark? with only 3.2 module at sprogskole it will be difficult for you to pass PD3, I’m afraid. Unless you are practicing your Danish on a regular basis outside school, that is. I have heard that is very difficult for non-Danish nurses to get certified here, and I’m sorry that is the case. How much time do you have left on your visa? Any chance of extending it? You could probably find someone to coach you – you could also use the numerous sprog cafes in Aalborg (I assume you are in Aalborg?) to get help. Do you know about them? In any case, I do wish you the best of luck. 🙂

        Filipinonurse said:
        January 31, 2016 at 2:36 pm

        I have been here for 1year and 7 months as an au pair . I am ending this july 2016 . I have my “godkent”for papers alreadt and Just the language certficate of prøve 3 to land a job. I will totally try even if im not fully equipped. I wish i could find a temporary job to extend and aim for prøve later on.

        sarahinjylland responded:
        January 31, 2016 at 3:00 pm

        You should certainly try. I would recommend taking the practice exams and attending all the sprog cafe sessions you can at the Main library (Wednesday afternoons, I think), at Haraldslund, and so on to practice. The verbal part of the exam requires practice, practice, practice. I am not married to a Dane, and it was difficult for me. I do hope you pass!

    Filipinonurse said:
    January 31, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    This is such a helpful post. This could save me. Thank you. I hope i could meet one person that passed this test and coach me. I am soooo desperate to land a job in hospital before my visa expires that i need to pass this in a suicidal attempt.

    Do you think i can take this with module 3.2 level in sprogskole?

    I would love to hear more about this especiallt VERBAL test portion.. i need to have score of 10 which i impossible. … soooo strict for foreign nurses to get in denmark to be a certified one here.

    I am sooo desperate that i even wanna meet somebody that passed for a coffee or get some points from them

    Tusind tak.

    Sergei Karacharov said:
    November 11, 2016 at 7:32 am

    A non-obvious fact: Retskrivningsordbog – the orthographic dictionary, where all those irregular words, en- and et- words, how things are in singular and plural, all of this is provided – is also a printed dictionary. And so is a Synonymordbog. The teachers at the language school say that both are OK along with the usual dictionaries. Both are going into my exam book bag.

    Ravi Saxena said:
    November 24, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Hello to all,

    Can anyone please help me to understand the scoring system in Danske i prøve 3 test.
    I recently appeared in written test in Aarhus
    I received a letter from læredansk today to appear in the oral test. In the same letter they have mentioned my score in reading and written test which is as follows:

    02 in læseforståelse
    00 in skriftlig fremstilling

    Can somebody please help me to understand these numbers. Have I passed or failed?
    If I have passed, then will it make any difference if I fail in oral communication?

    Regards

      sarahinjylland responded:
      November 24, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      Hi Ravi – 00 is failing. 02 is pretty close to failing but it is passing. They will not calculate your final score on the whole exam until you complete the oral part. You should get the score for that right after the exam but you won’t get your final score until the diploma ceremony (at least that is how it is in Aalborg.) I heard that they weight the oral part more than the other two, but I don’t know the formula for calculating the final score. Good luck on the oral :).

        Ravi Saxena said:
        November 25, 2016 at 11:44 am

        Hi Sarah,

        Thanks for your reply. 🙂

        Regards

        Ravi Saxena said:
        December 10, 2016 at 12:19 am

        Hi Sarah,

        Today was my oral test and I secured 4 (x2) marks. Earlier I had got 2. So in total I got 2 + (4×2) = 10. Which i am told is further divided by 4 to arrive at exact result. Which in my case should be 10/4 = 2.5. The examiner told me that I have passed danske 3 and will receive my diploma soon.

        But now my question is that is passing Danske 3 with 2.5 enough to apply for citizenship. A hearsay is that one needs to pass it with atleast 4 marks. is that true?

        Regards

        sarahinjylland responded:
        December 13, 2016 at 2:41 pm

        Hi again Ravi – As far as I know, you only need to pass. I have not heard that a certain grade or mark is necessary for the citizenship application. However, you should check with the Ministry of Justice to make sure. Good luck!

    Ravi Saxena said:
    December 14, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for your response.
    I called them. They confirmed that just passing is enough and there is no separate requirement regarding grades.

    Regards

      sarahinjylland responded:
      December 14, 2016 at 11:12 am

      Great! Good for you and anyone else who wanted to know…Thanks for sharing.

    paulinelapetite said:
    January 20, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    hi ! really really Helpfull post Thank You ! x
    I wanted To ask You How Long Do You think You Need To study danish At least to Be able To pass the Test ? ( When You Move To denmark As well)
    I am German so my native Language Is pretty similar And I am fluent in english And french so I learn languages Quite fast but I am Not Sure if it Is realistic To reach this Level of danish in 6 month ?

      sarahinjylland responded:
      January 22, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      Six months would be really, really difficult. Germans generally learn Danish quite quickly, especially reading, but you need to get to a certain level of spoken proficiency and that takes more than 6 months – usually…

    An Tran said:
    March 14, 2017 at 12:07 am

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for the great info. I am self studying now, and i plan to take the tests later as independent test takers. Do you know where I can find some test examples to practice for my exam (for the written part at least)

    Ela said:
    May 13, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Geez….Buddy, thanks so much for this guideline! Imagine: I was told by my teacher that I CANNOT bring any kind of dictionary! And I was in total panic. Now I can calm down and pick a dozen of dictionaries 😀

      sarahinjylland responded:
      May 13, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Yes, but remember that’s only for the written exam!

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