How I passed the Finnish Yki test at first try (for Finland citizenship application)

How I passed the Finnish Yki test at first try (for Finland citizenship application)

Hi everyone, it’s been a long time since my last post. A lot has changed since then…

Today, I will write and share with you my Finnish learning journey and how I passed the Yki test for Finland’s citizenship at first try. It wasn’t easy for me to study Finnish for an exam while working full-time. Looking back, it was a stressful 2-month intensive learning period.

This post talks about my on-and-off learning progress throughout the 6 years I stayed in Finland, my YKI preparation and some tips on how to do the YKI exam.

My Finnish learning journey

I arrived in Finland in February 2017 to Kokkola. In the first semester of my Bachelor’s study that year, I took a Finnish course. The course was basic and covered Suomen Mestari 1 book, from chapter 1 to 6. I passed the course with good grades and had some fundamental knowledge about the Finnish language. Then I stopped studying Finnish completely there.

In the middle of 2018, after transferring my study to Turku, I signed up for an evening course to study Finnish, but I didn’t learn much from that course because it used a different book and covered more or less the same grammar points as the previous course. I didn’t attend all the classes and stopped soon after.

In 2021, after a long break, I picked up studying Finnish again. I signed up for an evening class in Helsinki, which I found through the website The course ran from September 2021 to May 2022, starting from Suomen mestari 1 chapter 6 and ending at Suomen mestari 2 at chapter 3. The course was great, with a slow pace for solidifying basic grammar points, classmates for speaking practice, a nice teacher who explained things in both Finnish and English, and at a low cost of 150 euros for the whole year.

After the first course, I signed up for a second one that ran from September to December 2022 and aimed for the A2.2 level. This course covered the entire Suomen mestari 2 book, and was intensive, with classes every evening from Monday to Thursday lasting 3 hours daily. At the start of this course, in September, I decided to sign up for the YKI test. I took the test in November. Around this time the course was covering around chapter 6 in Suomen Mestari 2.

How I prepared for the YKI test

In May 2022, I downloaded and paid for WordDive – a Finnish application that helps learners with Finnish vocabulary. I preferred this app to Duolingo because the examples were more realistic and practical for Finnish daily life. I tried to learn new words with the app for 10-15 mins per day. I didn’t study every day and didn’t study at all during the summer, but the app was helpful when combined with the evening Finnish course.

After registering for the YKI test in September 2022, I signed up for a YKI intensive training course at Jyväskylä University. The course lasted for 1 month during October 2022. It was online, 3 times per week for 1.5 hours each time. The cost was 175 euros if I remember right. This course was helpful for familiarizing myself with the test format and the teacher gave tips on how to score well. Some tips I remember are:

  • Don’t leave any answers blank. Empty answers get minus points, while wrong answers don’t.
  • In the Writing part, make sure you know the difference between formal and informal writing. Also, for the last question (argumentative writing), it is recommended to have 3 points to prove your statement.
  • In the Speaking section, for the Dialogue part, just answer correctly and to the point. But for the Opinion part, try to fill the 2 minutes time and speak the whole time.

For Speaking, the one thing I did that I think was most important in helping me pass the YKI Speaking exam was this: I practiced speaking with a small group (4-5 people) almost every weekday, an hour each day, for a month before the exam date. We practiced using the book Ykäänkö vai ykiinkö. The practice was extremely helpful in a small group setting because we shared a lot of ideas with each other and also learned useful phrases together. We practiced with strict timer to make sure each speaking practice is according to the real time limit of the test. The one-month practice did wonders to my speaking skills. I learned to react in Finnish and think in Finnish. I believe without the consistent practice, I wouldn’t have been able to pass the Speaking exam.

For Writing, I didn’t practice any real writing with timing before the exam. I looked at examples from the book Harjoitus tekee mestarin 4. I also recommend the book Samalla Kartalla 1, which has simple and relevant texts related to YKI topics. I tried to read a chapter every night before bed for 2 weeks before the exam date. Additionally, this Youtube channel has a lot of useful writing samples that I’ve learned the ideas and writing structure from.

For Reading, I didn’t do any Selkouutiset or intentional training. I think by practicing speaking and reading the writing samples, my reading skill got improved in the process. The reading exam was quite long with a lot of texts. The way I did it was that I did the first 3 texts, then the last 3 texts that require written answers, then when there was only 10 minutes left I went to the middle texts to finish the Reading exam.

For Listening, as you can see, I didn’t pass, so I can’t give any advice there. I think listening to more radio and getting used to spoken Finnish would help improve this skill.

Additional resources

These Facebook groups: Finnish YKI Test 2021 and YKI Test Practice and Apply for Finnish Citizenship. I found my speaking buddies from the first group. There’s so much great advice and resources in these groups.

Make sure your friends and your network know you are preparing for YKI test. I’ve got so much support and materials from my friends. My friends lent me most of the books I mentioned above and gave me tons of useful advice from their own experiences.

Final words

So, that was the whole summary of my Finnish learning journey. Honestly, I started learning Finnish only with the intention of passing the YKI test. But after putting in so much effort, the result was actually better than what I expected. I can now use Finnish in supermarkets, coffee shops, or hold simple conversations with Finns. I finally understand the ad posters on the streets. After almost 6 years living in Finland, I slowly “get” what is going on around me and feel a little more “integrated”. I’d say that learning Finnish and taking the YKI test was definitely one of the most challenging things I’ve done, but the outcome was worth it.

Good luck on your Finnish learning journey! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if you want to share your learning experience with me 🙂

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