Norskprøve or Bergenstest: which exam should you take?

Should I take Norskprøven or Bergenstesten?

Which exam should I take?
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You will have to pass a Norwegian language exam to prove that your Norwegian is sufficient if you have any of these dreams: Finding a job in Norway, studying, getting a residence permit, applying for Norwegian citizenship …

Not all exams will be accepted for the same purpose. Picking the wrong exam will cost you a lot of time, energy, and money – so here is an overview over which exam you should take according to your situation.

Why „more difficult“ is (usually) better

A general rule first: you should take the exam with the highest possible level (depending on how good you are at speaking Norwegian) because it will open more doors. For example: it is sufficient to take Norskprøve A2 if you need a residence permit, but you will also get a residence permit if you have passed the (way more difficult) Norskprøve B2 or Bergenstest. But with Norskprøve B2 or Bergenstest you can also study at a Norwegian university, which you cannot do if you have only passed Norskprøve A2.

I’d make two exceptions from this rule: if you either need a confirmation urgently (e. g. you need to apply for a residence permit very soon) or if you’d just like to see what the exams look like.

When to take the Norskprøve

To avoid confusion: You might still hear Norskprøve 2 and Norskprøve 3 somewhere, but these exams do not exist any longer. They have been replaced by

  • Norskprøve A1/A2
  • Norskprøve A2/B1
  • Norskprøve B1/B2

Let me deal with the first two right away: you should only take them if

  • you have to because it is your obligation to attend official Norwegian courses or
  • you need a residence permit as soon as possible or
  • you would like to get some basic exam experience.

I hesitate recommending Norskprøven at an A1/A2 or A2/B1 level if you just want to improve your chances on the job market. Let’s face it: who is impressed by „some basic knowledge“ of Norwegian? Nobody! If you want to challenge yourself or if your potential employer demands it, then take the exam. But just taking it so that you can put it on your CV is probably a waste of time. If you want a good job where Norwegian language matters, you will need to prove B1 or B2 level.
The good thing about the Norskprøve exams is that there is no pass/fail any longer. The result of the exam will be the level of your Norwegian. For example, if you register for the A2/B1 exam and you score relatively low, you will get a certificate that your Norwegian is at level A2. If you score high, it will say level B1.

What does the Norskprøve look like?

The first two parts of the Norskprøve exam are digitalized. You will sit in front of a computer and solve tasks for reading and listening. If you are good, the computer will present more and more difficult tasks to measure your level more accurately. So these parts of the exam are the same for all levels. In the third part you will have to write a text, and in the fourth part you will have to talk – alone and with another candidate – in front of a (human) examinator. For this part you will have to find out by yourself for which level you should register. If you have a teacher, ask them for advice. If not take a placement test first.

The Norskprøve is held four times a year, usually in March, May, September, and December. You can take it in almost all municipalities (kommuner), and the place where you take it is usually the adult education centre (voksenopplæringssenter). The price is determined by your kommune.

We have published a free ebook with a lot of background information about Norskprøven and how you should get prepared for the exam. You can download it here:

If your Norwegian is good: take Norskprøve B1/B2 or Bergenstest?

I believe that (almost) everybody who has achieved a solid B2 level in Norwegian should take the Bergenstest. Here is why:

  1. It is the exam with the highest reputation on the job market (apart from Trinn 3 eksamen, which you can only take if you are a Norwegian university student). Maybe Norskprøven with a B2 result will once get the same reputation, but right now (November 2019) Bergenstesten is still the „king of Norwegian language exams“.
  2. If you have passed Bergenstesten, you will also have sufficient documentation for studying at a Norwegian university. If you are applying for university studies with limited admission, Bergenstesten can give you more points and therefore increase your chances of getting in. Norskprøven will always give you four points, whereas Bergenstesten can give you up to six points if you score high. Moreover, in connection with university studies, the written Bergenstest will do, whereas you have to pass both the written and the oral Norskprøve (I don’t understand the logic behind this, but that’s the current situation, and it has been like this for several years).
  3. So here we have one of the key differences between Norskprøven and Bergenstesten: while Norskprøven is an integrated exam, Bergenstesten is divided into a written and an oral exam which you can take independently of each other.

There are, however, a few disadvantages with Bergenstesten that you should take into account:

  • The written Bergenstest seems to be more academically challenging; you have the grammar part which does not exist in the same form in Norskprøven (however good knowledge of grammar is required there as well), and you have the referat (summary) which does not exist in Norskprøven either. The other parts (written production, reading comprehension, listening comprehension) are fairly comparable.
  • You can take Norskprøven almost everywhere in the country, and in a few municipalities it is cheaper than Bergenstesten.

My conclusion:

→ Your level is A1

Don’t take an exam. Keep on learning Norwegian.

→ Your level is A2/B1

… and you want:

  • a job: take Norskprøve A2/B1
  • a good job: keep on learning
  • to study at a university: keep on learning
  • a residence permit (and nothing else): take Norskprøve A2/B1

→ Your level is B2 or higher

… and you want:

  • a job: take Norskprøve B1/B2
  • a good job: take Bergenstesten (both parts)
  • to study at a university: take Bergenstesten (written part only)
  • a residence permit: take Norskprøve B1/B2

More information

We have published three free ebooks with background information about Bergenstesten and Norskprøven. You can download them here:

Disclaimer
Please note that while I have carefully researched all the details, I cannot guarantee that the information given is 100% correct and up to date. Before making a decision on which exam to take, always check with the institutions that offer the exams and with the relevant Norwegian authorities whether the information is correct and up to date.

Our Norwegian courses for passing Bergenstesten and Norskprøven

Mysteriet om Nils - Norwegischkurs für Fortgeschrittene

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