Mastering the Dutch integration exams through independent study
June 20, 2023

If you're a non-EU citizen aspiring to obtain Dutch nationality or permanent residence in the Netherlands, passing the Dutch integration exams, or inburgeringsexamen, is a crucial step. Luckily, Bart Nawijn from offers valuable advice on self-studying for these exams.

The inburgeringsexamen, or Dutch integration exams, are mandatory for individuals aiming to become citizens or residents of the Netherlands. Two groups of candidates are required to take these exams:

  1. Individuals who have lived in the Netherlands for at least five years and voluntarily apply for permanent residence or a Dutch passport.
  2. Individuals holding temporary residence permits, including refugees (vluchtelingen) and family migrants (gezinsmigranten), who must pass the exams within three years.

While the exams may seem daunting, this article provides valuable tips to make your preparation easier.


About the integration exams

To become a Dutch permanent resident or citizen, you must pass five exams, four of which assess your proficiency in the Dutch language in reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Additionally, there is a Knowledge of Dutch Culture and Society (KNM) exam.

The language exams are categorized as A2 level (beginner) or B1 level (intermediate), depending on your entry date to the Netherlands. If you're uncertain about your level, it's advisable to contact DUO (The Education Executive Agency) or the IND (Dutch immigration authorities) for guidance.


Preparing for the exams through self-study

While attending courses at language schools is a common way to prepare for the exams, many skills and knowledge can also be acquired through self-study. In fact, numerous students have successfully passed their exams within a few months solely through self-study.


Handy self-study tips

Here are five valuable tips for self-study:

  1. Set clear goals and timelines Setting goals and deadlines helps you stay motivated and organized. Registering for the exams on the DUO website, typically two to three months in advance, serves as a clear goal. Generally, it takes around four to five months to progress from A0 (complete beginner) to A2 level and a similar duration to move from A2 to B1. However, the timeline may vary according to individual learning speed.
  2. Understand the exam formats early on Once you've set an exam date, familiarize yourself with the exam formats by practicing with sample tests. Don't worry if you don't understand everything at first. Exam formats provide insight into what is expected, making your studies more structured. You can find practice exams on the DUO Inburgering website and within Inburgering Online's self-study courses.
  3. Build your vocabulary with a personalized word list Building vocabulary is crucial for comprehension and speaking in a new language. Enhance your word bank by creating a personalized list of unfamiliar words encountered during the day. Jot them down in a notebook or on your phone. Learning words that personally interest you fosters proactive learning.
  4. Focus on easier aspects of grammar In addition to vocabulary, practicing grammar is essential. Dutch grammar is rule-based and structured. While some rules may differ from those in your native language, only a few topics are challenging. Most grammar topics are relatively easy to learn and apply. Recognizing this will enhance motivation. For instance, sentence structure can be a difficult topic at the A2 level, but others are more manageable.
  5. Immerse yourself in daily Dutch Expose yourself to Dutch regularly through TV, radio, music, and other media. Choose content that interests you personally, as this will boost your motivation to understand. Don't be disheartened if you don't grasp everything immediately; it's a normal part of the learning process.

Bonus tip: When addressing skills and exam order, it is recommended to begin with receptive skills (reading and listening) before moving on to productive skills (speaking and writing). Finally, prepare for the KNM (knowledge of Dutch society) exam.

If you're unsure where to start preparing for the inburgeringsexamen, offers guided self-study courses that require no books or classes.


Within 45 days I passed all exams.

This is probably the best course. I am happy to inform that within 45 days I passed all exams. The best part is when KNM course was added. It helped immensely reduce the preparation time from many months to a few days. I highly recommend this course.


It's better than spending lots of money on classes.
The course is very very good, friendly to study alone. In fact it's better than spending lots of money on classes. I passed my exam and I would not have been able to without the course. Thank you guys.


Highly recommended!

Great course. The content is presented in a way that motivates you to keep going. The content and exercises are very well aimed to complete the integration exam. If you have questions, you send an email and get a very quick answer. Highly recommended!