I arrived at Rosenhof Voksenopplæringssenter around 8 AM. With plenty of time I just decided to sit down in front of the room where I would be taking the exam and go through some notes. Not even 2 minutes had passed when the notes were closed and thrown into my bag. ‘The goal is to relax, not to stress. It won’t make any difference now.’ was the thought at the time.
Immediately after closing my bag I hear in Norwegian.
– ‘Where do you come from?’ – asked me a girl who had just taken a sit on my right side.
– ‘Portugal. And you?’ – I’m always up for a conversation before the exam.
– ‘Lithuania. Why are you taking the test?’ – asked her while smiling.
– ‘I need it because I want to apply to university.’
– ‘Oh, really? Me too! What do you want to apply for?’
– ‘Medicine. You?’
– ‘Really? How exciting! I am an economist and I want to take the test which will give the authorization to take full responsibility for a company’s accountancy here in Norway. In order to take that test, you must prove Norwegian proficiency. By the way, how many years is the medical degree?’
– ‘6 minimum. Doctors study their whole life, I assume.’
– ‘Do you know what you are getting into? Have you ever studied at university?’
– ‘Yes. I happened to study economics as well.’ – At this point, I recognized her surprise.
– ‘Wow. So you are an economist too! How come do you want to study medicine now?’
– ‘I’m sick of office jobs. It’s just not me. It’s never too late to follow my dream. I like to believe that it is never too late.’
– ‘Hum… I see. I tell you something: since I was 14 that I dreamed about being a doctor. However, I graduated in economics and now I can’t just go back to zero. How come are you willing to do that?’
– ‘In 20 years I want to look at my past with no regrets. I want to feel that I did everything to be working in something that I love. Not something that is OK to work with. At this point, I have no doubts that I love medicine.’.
– ‘Hum… I see…’ – and then she got into some sort of thoughtful mode. She didn’t talk much after that. I could see that she was processing my arguments.
All the sudden I started wondering how many people, out of those who have the possibility to follow their dream, actually follow it. I don’t think many do.
Not long after this talk, we were called into the respective rooms. The exam has 5 parts.
- Reading and Comprehension = 2 texts, 16 questions (8 for each) + 1 text with gaps that you must fill in (3 alternatives are given to choose from). 1 hour is given.
- Listening = You listen to 25 mini dialogues (once and only once) with a break of seconds in between them. You have must answer a question about each mini dialogue. 3 alternatives are given.
- Interview = You listen to an interview which is about 5-7 minutes. The interview is played twice. After that, you are given 45 minutes to write a text explaining what the interviewed person said. You have usually 7 points/topics that you must mention in your text.
30 minutes break. Breathe! Go to the toilet, eat, stretch, jump…
- Grammar = 30 pairs of sentences. The first is given to you. The second is partly written. You must fill in the gaps and make sure that both sentences mean the same.
- Written essay = You can choose from 2 topics. You must write an essay about the topic chosen. About 350 words. The first 1/3 of the text you must introduce the topic. The other 2/3 is your own argumentation.
2,5 hours are given for part 4 and 5 together. So you can take as long as you want to complete the grammar exercises. The whole exam takes about 5-6 hours. Pretty long, right? You need to pass all the parts in order to pass the exam. If you fail one single part of it, you must repeat it.
This was the second time I took the exam. The first was in April 2013. I failed big time because I had no idea of what is expected by judges in each type of exercise. But I wanted to try anyway.
The first part was fine, I think. It is tough, but if you prepare, you manage it just okay.
I think this time around the listening part was fairer. Most of the dialogues were in perfect Oslo dialect (Norway has many dialects) and that makes it fairer, in my opinion. Some of them were really fast though. I consider this the toughest part of the examination. Either you get it, or you don’t. Whatever happens, you must move on to the next question. If you fall behind, there’s no way you can figure out the answer to the next one. So you better hear and decide quick. Hopefully, I have 13 or 14 out of the 25 dialogues right.
The interview was okay. I don’t really know how I feel about it. Honestly, I did my best. That’s what matters to me.
The grammar was easy. When I came home I realized that 4 of my answers were wrong. Two of them were stupid mistakes. Especially when you got the right answer but you have a typo in the word. That counts as zero. Frustrating… But I must live with it now. I’d be very surprised if I didn’t pass this part. But wait until you get the result, Hugo!
For the written essay 2 topics were given.
‘Is society too much focused on losing weight lately?’ or ‘Flexible working hours. Is this a good thing?‘.
I chose the flexible working hours. I took 5 minutes to decide what to write and how to write. Once I had a mental draft, I went for it. I think I did good enough. But I want to show what I wrote to my teacher and hear his opinion. When you are writing the essay, you are doing it on a 3 layer paper. The third paper is for you to take home. It’s the only thing we can take home. All the rest (even your drafts) must be left there.
The results are posted online in 6 weeks (minimum). I don’t want to think about it too much. I have other things craving for my attention right now: physiology, chemistry and biology.
It felt so good to be finished with the test. I love the feeling after exams. What a relief.