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Passing the ECL Hungarian Language Proficiency Test

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Language learning is all fun and games…until you reach a plateau. 

You may start asking yourself “But where am I going with this?” And you wouldn’t be the only language-learner doing so. 

When learning a language, it’s normal to lose motivation every now and then. That’s why it’s important to set goals and milestones for yourself; there’s no better way to keep yourself motivated and pumped through all those hours hunched over books. 

Do you know what else makes a great motivator? Tangible progress! The most effective way to monitor your progress, test your mettle, and find room for improvement is through a Hungarian language proficiency test. 

This article is the guide for preparing for the ECL Hungarian language exam. 

If you have no idea what we’re talking about, stick around. We’ll give you tons of information about this test, including how it works and what you can expect to see on it. And if you’ve already decided you want to take the ECL Hungarian exam, keep reading for tips on how to prepare and succeed! 

A note before we start: If you’re not sure what level of Hungarian you’re at, we recommend taking a free online test first. This will allow you to see where you’re at, without spending the money you would on an official test. If you’re not satisfied with your score on the free test, don’t fret: HungarianPod101.com is here to help you sharpen your Hungarian skills! 

Now, let’s start with a quick comparison of the two main Hungarian exams.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Hungarian Table of Contents
  1. ECL vs. Origó
  2. The ECL Listening Test
  3. The ECL Reading Test
  4. The ECL Writing Test
  5. The ECL Speaking Test
  6. Tips on Preparing for the ECL
  7. Conclusion: HungarianPod101.com Will Help You Ace Your Exam

1. ECL vs. Origó

Currently, there are two official Hungarian proficiency tests available for foreigners: the ECL and the Origó. Both exams are a great way to test your knowledge if you want to live and work in Hungary, or even if you’re just curious about how far you’ve come in your Hungarian studies.

You can register for both exams online:

  • The registration deadline is usually one month before the exam date (but double-check on the website). The sooner you register, the better! 
  • You’ll need to pay a fee before you take the test. This is usually between 30,000 and 35,000 Ft (around €90-100), though this can vary based on the level you’re taking.

The Origó and ECL language tests are similar in that they’re both monolingual Hungarian exams. They’re both accredited, and they both have four sections: writing, reading, listening, and speaking. Do note that Origó allows candidates to take the oral and written tests on the same day or on different days. In order to pass either test, you must: reach at least forty percent on each section AND reach at least sixty percent overall. 

1- Origó

Origó is named after the language center of a Hungarian university in Budapest: ELTE (Eötvös Loránd University) Nyelvi Centrum. Origó offers tests for other languages, as well, and creates its own tests and exercises. You can easily apply for any exam on the official website, though you can only take the tests in Budapest. The Origó website also features samples (displayed in Hungarian) to give you a better idea of what to expect.

The structure and components of Origó exams are fairly similar to those of the ECL exams. Here, we’ll cover the unique components of the Origó test:

  • There is one candidate in front of two examiners.
  • The conversation is guided.
    • You’ll talk about a given topic based on an image. The severity of this topic differs based on the exam level you’re taking.
    • You’ll roleplay (act out a situation).
  • You’ll need to interpret an excerpt (only at the C1 level).

2- ECL

The abbreviation “ECL” stands for “European Consortium for the Certificate of Attainment in Modern Languages.” 

It’s an international examination system that offers standardized tests in the languages of EU countries. ECL offers Hungarian language exams for four levels: A2 (waystage), B1 (threshold), B2 (vantage), and C1 (effective operational proficiency). For these, you can find sample sheets containing examples of exercises that you might encounter when you sit for the exam. You can take the ECL test in Pécs, Hungary.

From now on, what you’ll be reading applies to the ECL Hungarian language aptitude exam.

A Guy in a Blue Shirt Who’s Happy about His A+ Grade

2. The ECL Listening Test

Duration15 to 35 minutes (depending on the level)
MaterialsAudio files (there will be two)
TasksAnswer questions and complete exercises related to the audios
Question TypesMultiple choiceShort answerMatching Completing sentences & chartsPlacing words where they belong
Additional NotesYou will hear the audios twiceThe audios’ complexity varies by levelFocus on the core meaning for the best results

As you saw in the table, the complexity of the audios you’ll hear vary based on level. This means that you need to study your vocabulary accordingly! The higher the level, the broader and more diverse your vocabulary should be. For example, at the A2 level, you’ll need to know generic, everyday words and phrases; at the C1 level or higher, you should know words and phrases in a range of fields and topics.

The best way to expand your vocabulary is to test yourself from time to time. Aim to learn a few new words every week or month, and occasionally write your own tests to see how much you know! 

In the meantime, here are some examples of questions likely to appear on the listening test: 

  • “What color is the car?” (Milyen színe van az autónak?) [A2]
  • “Where do the students meet?” (Hol találkoznak a diákok?) [A2]
  • “In what show did the actress appear last year?” (Múlt évben milyen műsorban szerepelt a színésznő?) [B1]
  • “What interested her/him in books other than images as a child?” (Mi érdekelte gyerekként a mesekönyvekben a képeken kívül?) [C1]

If you keep the things we mentioned in mind and practice a lot, you should be fine during the exam. Don’t hesitate to hear what an actual A2-level audio sounds like.

A Girl Holding Her Head and Studying

3. The ECL Reading Test

Duration60 to 90 minutes (depending on the level)
SectionsTwo sections
MaterialsTwo texts, one shorter and one longer
TasksAnswer questions and complete exercises based on the texts
Question TypesFill-in-the-blankShort answerMatching
Additional NotesThere will be 20-30 questions or blanks on your sheet (but fewer questions the higher the level is).

Again, the complexity of the texts and exercises varies based on the level you’re taking. At the A2 level, you should be able to comprehend the general meaning of short, simple texts on familiar, general topics like public notices, travel brochures, and timetables.

Here’s an example of something you may read:

  • “In Hungarian cities, you have to board buses and trams through the front door. It is possible to buy a ticket from drivers of buses and trams.”
    A magyar városokban az első ajtón kell felszállni a buszra, a villamosra. A busz vagy a villamos vezetőjétől is lehet jegyet vásárolni.

The B1 level differs only a bit from the A1. On this level, you have to understand the general meaning of texts on a variety of topics. You should also understand essential details of simple passages on familiar topics such as job advertisements, instructions for use, personal letters, and domestic bills.

If you pass a B2 exam, it means that you can understand specific information about a certain topic and recognize the tone and purpose of passages taken from newspapers, magazines, regulations, formal letters, reports, etc.

If you take a Hungarian exam at the C1 level, you must demonstrate the ability to comprehend information and ideas, to recognize the tone of the speaker, and to identify the purpose of different types of texts written for the general reader.

Example:

  • “To what causes can the shorter length of the earlier Kipling-edition be attributed?”
    Milyen okokkal magyarázható a korábbi Kipling-kiadás kisebb terjedelme?

You can read more about these requirements yourself on the official ECL website.

As with the listening section, your vocabulary should be adequate for the level you plan on testing for. However, in this case, you probably have it easier as the words are actually written down, so you don’t have to guess what word you heard in order to make sense of the text.

A Woman in a Red T-shirt Holding Her Head in Front of a Computer

4. The ECL Writing Test

Duration35 to 75 minutes (depending on the level)
SectionsTwo exercises
Materials
TasksWrite two pieces of text
Essay TypesYou may be asked to write texts in the following formats:
Letters of invitationOrdinary messagesPersonal lettersEmails (formal and informal)Internet blog or forum commentsReports (official and personal)EssaysMagazine articles
Additional NotesThe length of the texts you’re supposed to write vary from level to level:
A1: 50 words per written pieceA2 and up: An additional 50 words per level (C2 will have 200 words)

There are four key areas you should focus on while writing:

  • Grammar
    • Do you know whether to use á or a?
    • How are your sentence structures looking?
  • Spelling
    • Practice, practice, practice, to ensure that your spelling is impeccable! 
  • Handwriting
    • The examiners won’t be able to read or correct your work if it’s illegible. 
  • Layout & Aesthetics
    • Make sure that your text is well-organized and neatly put-together. 
    • A paper full of crossed-out words and scribbles may cause confusion! 

Here’s an example of a task you might get for a B2-level ECL exam:

  • “Your Hungarian friend is going to visit you and your family and inquires about your eating habits. Reply to him/her in an email.” (ca. 150 words)
    Az Ön magyar barátja meg fogja látogatni Önt és a családját, és az étkezési szokásaikról érdeklődik. Válaszoljon neki e-mailben! (B2)

For this exercise, you’ll be given guidelines for how to compose the email.

Students Taking an Exam

5. The ECL Speaking Test

The ECL oral test comprises two or three candidates having a conversation in front of two examiners. 

The examinees start by introducing themselves. This part is not assessed, but it helps ease the candidates into the exam and loosens the tension a bit. Then comes the guided and assessed conversation between the examinees. They have to talk about a certain topic based on a picture and act out a situation. The topic can be about anything—depending on the level again—from your daily routine, to holidays and issues concerning health.

It’s advised to sometimes disagree with your partner and to provoke each other a bit, rather than agreeing on everything. This way, you can show the examiners that you have a wide range of vocabulary and that you have the tools needed for a debate. However, it’s essential to respect the other person’s opinion and to remain polite throughout the conversation. 

Another crucial thing to watch is how much you speak. It almost doesn’t matter what you say, just say something. If you stay silent most of the time, the examiners won’t have anything to assess. Thus, they might give you a percentage at the end that doesn’t reflect your actual knowledge.

Multiple-choice Exam Sheet

6. Tips on Preparing for the ECL 

Studying for a Hungarian language exam is just about the same as studying for any other exam. However, in the case of Hungarian, you might want to pay special attention to spelling; Hungarians tend to write and pronounce words differently than an English-speaker is used to. Therefore, you might want to do as many mock tests regarding Hungarian grammar and spelling as you can.

Another way you can practice is by watching Hungarian talk shows, series, or movies. There’s no better way to learn all the slang you can expect to hear in day-to-day Hungarian conversations. This is also a very fun way to learn and study! 

An important part of any language is speech. Although you can hear people talking in movies and series, it might be a good idea to invest in some CDs and listen to a few songs as well. Or, you can buy a Hungarian book and listen to the CD it comes with multiple times until you understand the conversations fully.

You can practice your Hungarian alone in your room in front of a mirror, or even with online tutors, but the best way is to talk with a native speaker. In today’s world, there are many apps you can download to meet and talk with people from all over the world. Now may be the time to try one! 

Do you plan on visiting Hungary anytime soon? Try to make a friend there! They can be your penpal, though you can also call each other from time to time. 

What matters is that you practice the language.

Language Skills

7. Conclusion: HungarianPod101.com Will Help You Ace Your Exam

Now that you know everything about ECL and a little bit about the Origó Hungarian language proficiency test, you can decide if you want to jump straight in or practice some more first. Either way, you can count on us to provide you with all the learning tools and support you need.

We’ve given you a basic summary about ECL and its contents, with a few examples. Now, you can decide whether ECL is something that would work for you, or if you should delve into Origó a bit more. One thing is for sure though: they’re not going to be much different. But if you feel like Origó would work better for you, go for it. All that matters is that you feel comfortable and are confident in your knowledge.

If you have any questions about either Hungarian exam, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask. We’re all in this together, right?

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