5 tips on how to prepare yourself for an YKI (Finnish Language proficiency) test

5 tips - Prepare for an YKI test

To apply for a job or admission for education, you demonstrate your fluency with the National Certificate of Language Proficiency, also known as the YKI certificate. It is an official document for adults, which is useful in many situations. Having passed the Intermediate level, you could, for example, work in the medical profession. Passing the Intermediate level is also required when you wish to gain Finnish citizenship.

You can participate in YKI tests at specified test centers on pre-determined dates. Before that, I encourage you to prepare for the examination adequately. Below I have listed 5 tips to prepare you for the YKI test.


1. Understand the YKI test

We recommend you do your research, so you know what to expect.

YKI tests are held several times a year. For example, the intermediate level tests are arranged 5 times a year. Tests are organized at specified locations, and you apply for them online. Basic and intermediate level tests last for 3-4 hours, while advanced tests last for 5-6 hours.

The National Certificate of Language Proficiency test assesses participants using a six-point proficiency level scale, which is equivalent to the six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. Not errors but language skills are assessed during the tests, i.e., listening, reading, speaking, and writing. The certificate is permanently valid.


2. Learn the structure of the YKI test

The examinations are available at three levels.

  • Basic
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Choose which level is appropriate for you as required by your school or workplace.

All three levels consist of four subtests: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Each subtest is evaluated separately. Basic level grades are 1 or 2, for intermediate 3 or 4, and advanced 5 or 6. It’s also possible to be graded below 1, 3, or 5, respectively, during these tests, which would mean that you didn’t pass the test. For example, to pass the intermediate level test, you would need to get a grade 3 for each subtest. If you receive less than 3 for one subtest, you would need to retake the whole test.

You can try out different tests and subtests here:http://ykitesti.solki.jyu.fi/en/


3. Improve your vocabulary

The exam prohibits the use of dictionaries and electronic devices, so it’s worth revising some vocabulary. The subtests consider different kinds of topics, for example:

  • Personal identification
  • Home and living
  • Retail and services
  • Culture
  • Travel
  • Health and well-being
  • Work
  • Environment and society

It’s worth practicing vocabulary in various ways. If you feel there’s a topic you struggle with, read news and other articles related to it. Write down some useful words and phrases and use the vocabulary you have learned. When talking, don’t hesitate to ask if there’s a word you don’t know – there are dozens of Finnish speaking people around you, so why not learn from them. Listening is essential. The news and podcasts are an excellent way to absorb the vocabulary of topical issues.

It’s essential to realize it’s not impossible. Think of Finnish as different instead of difficult, and that will take you further, faster!

↓ Keep reading below ↓


4. Practice different forms of conventional communication

The examination contains activities such as these:

  • Giving and asking for factual information
  • Expressing opinions, attitudes, and emotions
  • Dealing with transactional activities
  • Acting according to social norms

To practice for the YKI test, it’s worth considering how you would handle these situations in your everyday life – in Finnish, of course. Choose to speak and write in Finnish, even if you don’t have to. For example, sometimes it’s a good idea to ask for information even if you already knew the answer. Doing so will encourage you and prove that you really can handle these kinds of situations in Finnish. Imaginative training is not a bad idea either. Think of situations you might encounter in your everyday life ­­– a blockage in a pipe, for example – and say aloud how you would resolve the situation in Finnish. Above all, remember to speak Finnish as much as possible. If people are used to speaking any other language with you, switch to Finnish.


5. Be sure to study Finnish comprehensively

The YKI test assesses listening, reading, speaking, and writing with all the skill components playing an essential role in the examination. Pay special attention to the areas you find the most challenging, but be sure to practice all the language skills. However, you don’t have to be perfect. To pass the Intermediate level, for example, you should be able to understand longer conversations and the central ideas of ordinary everyday texts, tv, and radio programs. You don’t have to excel in nuance, tone, or style at this level.

If you want a few tips about the comprehensive study of Finnish, I wrote an article about it.

When the test day is dawning, grab your pencil, eraser, and an official identification card and arrive early at the test center. Then everything is up to you – prove that you master your subject. Hard work pays off, and those hours of extraordinary effort will speak for themselves.


We now offer private Finnish lessons if you need assistance with preparing yourself for the YKI test or any areas of the language that you want to continue to develop.

If you are a medical professional motivated to develop the language skills necessary to find your place in Finnish healthcare, we provide courses to help you pursue your passion. Read more about them here.

Writer of the blog post:

Riikka Valkjärvi
Finnish language specialist

Source: Opetushallitus