Got four 4s in YKI after living in Finland for 2.5 years

About Eszter 

Hi, I am Eszter. I’m from Hungary, and I have been living in Finland for two and a half years. After two and a half years of living here, I passed the YKI test. 

Before moving to Finland, I had a couple of weeks to prepare. I started to read certain Facebook groups or pages and realized that learning the language is a huge part of integration. It was always very clear to me that I would like to speak Finnish and be able to live my life in Finland.

When I arrived, I booked a private Finnish teacher to start learning the language because I arrived in November, so there were no official courses at that time. I had private classes for two months and in December, I was applying to the intensive courses to learn the language.

Are Hungarian and Finnish similar? 

That’s a good question. Hungarian and Finnish are in the same language group. But they were separated around 4,000 years ago. I would say knowing Hungarian helped just as much as the fact that Finnish is not my first foreign language to learn.

Origin of Finnish and Hungarian from Uralic Languages


So if you just imagine how differently your grandparents speak compared to us. I think Hungarian and Finnish maybe have five words that are the same at this point. The grammar and the logic are a bit similar, but that’s it. 

The most important thing that helped me to learn Finnish quickly was my education. Finnish was already my third language to learn so I had knowledge about how to learn the language, how to pass exams, and how to prepare for the test. In addition to Hungarian and Finnish I also speak German. 

Did you have a private tutor that you would recommend?

That was a Hungarian lady who was teaching Finnish. It was around 15-20 euro for one lesson, and her name was Tímár Bogáta.

What were the courses that you took to learn Finnish and specifically to prepare for the YKI test (YKI Testi)?

My approach was to learn the language well enough that I could live my life and work in Finnish. So, in this sense, I wasn’t preparing specifically for the YKI test, but rather for life in Finland. This is something I would warmly recommend, even though I understand that learning the language might not be easy. However, I feel that if someone wants to live here, it’s essential for finding employment, getting integrated, finding friends, and being part of society. My goal was never just to pass the YKI test, but rather to become part of Finnish society, which gives a very different perspective.

With the YKI test my strategy was “I will just go to the test when I am confident enough”. And I did get four fours on the test.

I was looking for courses on, and I really recommend that. There is a good variety of courses, including an intense course held in the evening hours. I spent three hours there listening to Finnish, understanding Finnish, and working on the grammar. When you spend this much time in classes, I think the language is just going under your skin at some point. 

If we talk even more concretely, I attended a general language course at Helsinki Yliopisto, and it was quite affordable, ranging from 125 to 150 euros for a whole year. They even offer a 50% discount for unemployed people living in Helsinki. The teachers there are really good—professional and very nice. They teach using Suomen Mestari  books, from levels one to four.

Did you take any intensive YKI course before taking the test?

No, I had the B1.2 certification from my general language courses. At that point, my teacher said she’s 100% sure that I can pass the test, so I didn’t need a lot of preparation. But it’s important before every exam to understand what the exam is about, what is evaluated, and what the tasks are. Without knowing that, it’s very difficult to know how much time you should allocate to each part.

What would you recommend people to do before taking the test?

I recommend watching YouTube videos. There are a lot of YouTube videos that talk about YKI. What kind of tasks, how much time you will have for that task, what can you bring with you? Can you bring drinks, can you retake the test, can you bring a dictionary? These things are very important to know before the exam.

You can also check the official YKI Website of the Jyvaskyla University. There were sample tests, and I did and checked how well I can do, and it also gave me feedback. I feel that the actual test was a bit easier than the sample tests. I think if someone is confident on those samples, then it’s a good sign to go for the YKI.

Out of all four parts of the test, which one did you find the most difficult and why?

The speaking part is really difficult because you are in a language studio where everyone speaks at the same time, so I was mentally prepared that there would be a lot of noise and I would have to stay concentrated. But I found that if I pressed my hands on the headphones hard enough, I actually didn’t hear others that much. In the end, it was not that disturbing.

One thing I wish I could have practiced more was taking notes. In the listening part, there were multiple-choice questions or single-choice questions where you had to choose the right answer. The audio was playing, and even though I understood, I didn’t have time to write notes down. And when I did have the time, I forgot what it was about. So one thing I could have practiced is taking notes while listening.

What was your writing task topic?

One was related to the library, and I needed to write a letter explaining why I think it’s important to have a library. The other one required me to write a text to my friend, informing her that I was sick and asking her to walk my dog for me.

Tell us about your test day.

Everything went quite smoothly. There was this desk where they took away every device we had, not just our phones but also our smartwatches. Then, we entered the room and were assigned to a certain seat. 

Only bring what you feel comfortable with. I think water is always really useful, and you get the pencils and the eraser. One thing that I wish I had had is a sharpener for the pencils. I had to write a lot, and I needed to sharpen my pencils many times. Luckily, the exam place had one.

From the moment you check in to the exam, everything is very clear. They tell you which room to go to, where to sit, what’s going to happen, and how much time you are going to have. They put up a clock so you can monitor the time. They also remind you how much time you have left, so you can manage your remaining tasks.

They spoke very clearly and made sure that everyone understood what was going to happen. They used easy Finnish. And the test was organized by Omnia in Espoo.

How would you motivate someone to take the YKI test?

The exam is aimed at assessing how well you know Finnish. The secret is to genuinely want to learn Finnish and not just to pass the test. I understand it’s really important and the main motivation for many people. The test doesn’t aim to find your mistakes in your Finnish knowledge. It’s designed to help you pass it.

What is your opinion about why people want to apply for citizenship while they can stay in Finland on their Visa P?

I’m from the EU. I had a very different motivation and a very different background. I also had friends from outside of the EU, and it provides a sense of security. You can never know how the regulations will change in the future. This is basically the most secure way to make sure that you have all the rights in the long term.

Do you have any plans to learn Finnish further? 

Yes, I asked my workplace if they could support my language learning, and they appointed me and another colleague from my workplace to a language teacher, so we have this lecture once a week. 

In addition, I would like to attend C level courses. I want to be proficient enough to work in Finnish. Currently, B2 level is not enough; I feel I could improve further. Mainly in meetings, I feel a bit lost, and I also need to enhance my workplace vocabulary. This is also important to me as I do not want to be limited in seeking another job, changing careers, or pursuing further education due to language barriers.

Many opportunities at the moment require proficiency in Finnish. If you wish to study certain professions or work in specific fields, knowing Finnish is essential.

I’m somewhat disappointed that there aren’t many C1 level courses available. To fully integrate and participate in society, I believe proficiency at the C level is highly beneficial. I looked into it and found that Vantaa is organizing some C level courses, but some are only available for Vantaa residents. These courses are scheduled on Friday evenings or Saturday mornings, which I understand as they are designed for people who are already working full time. At this point, I will try to see if I can manage on my own, or I will consider hiring a private teacher.


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