For years, acquiring Danish citizenship required a crash course in Danish history.
Prospective Danes were forced to pass a citizenship test (indfødsretsprøven) that was often criticised as too difficult and too full of obscure information.
The test was supposed to have been phased out at the end of 2012, but its new, more modern replacement faced several delays. It wasn’t until earlier this month that the new citizenship test (now called statsborgerskabsprøven) was issued for the first time.
The new exam has a more updated focus, posing questions about modern Danish society.
While the old version included questions about the ramifications of a 1901 parliamentary procedure change, the farmers’ co-operative movement of the 1800s and which type of lamp was designed by Poul Henningsen, the new version featured questions on Eurovision, the Church of Denmark and paternity leave.
Other questions were merely simplified. While the old test asked how many MPs the Faroe Islands and Greenland send to Christiansborg, the new one merely asks whether the two autonomous members of the Kingdom of Denmark are represented in parliament.
The Local spoke with two American expats who took the 30-question citizenship exam on June 11 to hear what they thought about the updates.
Jane Riis Knudsen is originally from New York but has lived in Denmark for 40 years. She said the test took her about four minutes and that she missed just one question.
“I thought it was an easy test,” Riis Knudsen told The Local. “It was easy for me anyway, but it might not be easy for the Somali girl sitting next to me. When I took the test there were maybe 30-35 others in the room and when I left after 15 minutes, I’d say about 90 percent of the people were still taking it.”
She said that even though the test was easy for her, that might not be the case for everyone.
“There seemed to be a lot of people from African countries, Lithuanians, Russians – a real mix. I’m sure that people who might have come here as refugees would have found it more difficult.”
Riis Knudsen said that she decided to take the exam after parliament voted to allow dual citizenship earlier this year.
“I’ve lived here for two thirds of my life,” she said. “I have two kids who were both born here and have dual citizenship. Now that the opportunity was there for me, I thought i’d take it.”
She plans to take the Danish language test the next time it is available and then apply for citizenship.
Another American who took the June 11 test was Becky Steckhahn-Strohmer. She was also done within a matter of minutes and passed the test easily.
“It was really easy but it was because it was information I needed to know in order to live in Denmark,” she told The Local. “I had heard so many horror stories about the old version being completely irrelevant information.”
Steckhahn-Strohmer, who blogs for Expat in Denmark, said the citizenship test was much better than the family reunification test she had to take in 2011 under now obsolete rules.
“That test was overtly racist,” she said. “There were some questions in there that seemed like they were telling people, ‘In Denmark we do it this way and you really shouldn’t go against that.’”
Unlike Riis Knudsen, Steckhahn-Strohmer said she does not plan to take advantage of the new dual citizenship rules.
“Filing my American taxes is a pain in the ass, plus Scandinavia is such an amazing place to live!”
The citizenship test given on June 11 is available at the link below