Ah! so you have done the work. You have taken the Dutch courses and a considerably high level. You have received the books and done all your exercises in addition to attending your classes. For a few lucky ones, you have also manged to become a teacher’s pet hehe!
It is now time you ensure that you it is put in writing that you are efficient in the Dutch language. An odd mix of not natively fluent, but not also foreignly inadequate. You can read, write, speak, listen and agreeably make use of the Dutch grammar without bursting a vein. You are the envy of all your international friends.
Well, hold your horses for there is the big baddie in your way: the Nederlands Staats Examen NT2 or commonly known as the linguistic version of, “You Shall Not PASS!” Hehe! Well fear not. Here are a few tips/ Do’s and Don’ts that you can arm yourself with in the battle of attaining that precious NT2 Staatsexammen Diploma.
Do make sure that you register on the given dates.
The first hurdle is getting past the registration. Due to changes in the exam setup. An individual can only take the exams a maximum of 4 times a year as opposed to the unlimited times previously. As a cherry on the obstacle cake, there a few selected dates on which you can register. For example, as I write this article, those wishing to take the entire or some of the four exams in March had to register on/from the 4th of January at 9am. This seems plausible enough and doable. Until you realise that by midday; the exam places in areas like Amsterdam and the Randstad are completely full. You now may have to register in Zwolle and take a long train ride to your exam hall.
The amount of traffic to the DUO website on the registration days will see your web pages face a black Friday-esque internet stampede. So have trustworthy internet and get ready to be technologically aggressive…in whatever manner that is. Keep checking on the NT2 Staats exammen website where their registration dates and entire calendar is placed. Make sure you are on time: 9am with sturdy internet and all your details readily at hand.
Don’t assume that you are a pro/get cocky.
I sincerely mean this point with the kindest of hearts and from experience too. I had been performing quite well on my NT2 course that I believed it was a given for me to pass. I fell into that all so easy trap, I got cocky. I decided to cut myself some slack, after all I had dome the work and proven myself in the countless hours of class and homework.
However, when you get into that exam hall, you have a limited amount of time to get the most of what you can right. there is no time for slacking off; before or during. And what exam would it be if the questions were straight forward and not in any way tricky? (“examiner laughs in complicated Dutch”). You need to understand the complexities of the Dutch language and its nuances. And to do this, you have to remain linguistically vigilant and keep your mind to learning each and every single day. That means in and out of the classroom.
Do Practise…. a lot.
I cannot say this enough. Practise your Dutch at any one moment you get. Even in those tantalizingly sweet moments of temptation. Picture this, you are now confident that you can use your Dutch at B2+ level. So, you can now take it out of the classroom. You decide to function a day in Dutch. You are in Amsterdam; you go up into a shop to get a snack or you want to make an inquiry form a Dutch native. You open your mouth; almost immediately the Dutch grammar makes a profound escape from your brain, the proverbial cat emerges and ties your tongue with ropes of steel, and you manage to sputter out some words in broken Dutch. It is at that moment that the Dutch native who is quite enviable fluent in English too offers to help you in English. Resist I say, resist!
Hehe, kindly insist on using your learned Dutch, read in Dutch, write/text in Dutch, listen in Dutch. It will pay off in your exam: high level or not.
Don’t forget to immerse yourself in the culture.
This is a pretty useful habit. It is very likely that the more you acquaint yourself in a culture, the language also comes almost naturally. I have had the lovely chance to travel up and down the Netherlands. Form the Germanic Calvinistic north with the hard-throaty guttural “G” to the Spanish influenced catholic south with the melodic Dutch that has a very soft feathery “G” you could almost miss it’ accompanied by rolling “R’s”. This can be important in the listening exam as you weave through various accents to answer questions against the clock. Of course, there are many ways to do this. From travel, to food, acquaintances etch, pick a any or all and immerse yourself away!
Do revise through your work.
This applies to the portfolio of work that you have acquired during your course. The audio bits, the texts you have written, the reading texts and the speaking/ ‘uitsprake’ exercises. Giving yourself a reminder every now and then leading to the exams will serve to fortify your skills in the exam and in life in there Netherlands in general.
Don’t forget your hard correspondence from DUO.
It is very important that you carry the letters that have been sent to you from the DUO. Read the roles thoroughly and extensively. Make sure the details are correct. This point sounds like a broken record. But you will be surprised how missing a minor detail may case a mountain of problems.
It is also important that you carry this correspondence with you on the exam day. This adds a layer of identity confirmation which is required.
The above tips do not only deal with exam material, but with the interconnected aspects that ease your way into passing the Staatsexammen and passing your NT2. I may have dramatized the article a little bit, but form experience I know all to be true. Get yourself set and earn that prized NT2 Diploma. Good luck!