Highly competitive modern universities have amped their admission criteria, challenging the student to augment their abilities. And with an advanced degree from a prominent institute can massively enhance one’s career prospects worldwide. However, linguistic barriers can hinder several students from availing of these opportunities.

Finland is one of the most popular destinations for modern studies due to their high-quality academia and innovative research models. The universities here offer distinct degrees and lucrative scholarships, easing the financial pressure. However, gaining admission to Finnish universities requires fluency in the local language.

For this purpose, the Finnish Proficiency Test (YKI) is available for candidates interested in applying to a prestigious university in Finland. All details including test duration, structure, details, and tips to prepare for YKI are highlighted for international students in this article below.

What is the National Certificates of Language Proficiency (YKI)?

In Finland, adults can take standardized language tests called National Certificates of Language Proficiency (YKI) to determine what degree of proficiency they have in a variety of languages, mainly Finnish. Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for developing and organizing these examinations.

These tests are designed for non-native speakers to evaluate the person’s language skills in everyday practical situations within Finland. There are three proficiency levels available for this test which are basic, intermediate, and advanced. The Finnish government recognizes only YKI certificates as valid proof of linguistic competence.

Accurate and comprehensive assessment in these tests is conducted, which takes around two months to grade. The result is then provided in the form of a certificate of completion of YKI. This certificate has no expiry and is valid throughout the candidate’s life.

The candidate has to register at least two months before taking the test. Anyone above the age of 16 or older is eligible to apply for YKI. The Certificate of Finnish Language Proficiency can be used to gain admission to a Finnish University or to apply for a job.

Benefits of Taking National Certificates of Language Proficiency (YKI)

Candidates looking to demonstrate their Finnish speaking ability can take advantage of the YKI test in different areas, although it’s challenging. It provides the following benefits.

1. Validating Language proficiency

From universities to employers, by clearing the YKI test, the candidate can certify that he is fluent in Finnish without any hesitation. The test being certified by the Finnish government is widely accepted by institutes throughout the country. It helps the individual be confident enough to use Finnish as his language medium.

2. Improving communication skills

Although the test has different levels of competence, being competitive covers the basics of Finnish even at basic levels. It eliminates the candidate to stutter and face inconvenience while communicating with the natives. The test allows flexibility to be capable enough to easily elaborate the user’s thoughts with context-boosting conversational abilities.

3. Direct access to universities

World-recognized universities see students with a Finnish Proficiency test certificate as valid candidates and would mostly consider them for their academic programs. It is often considered a necessity to gain admission to bachelor’s and master’s programs within the universities of Finland. Some universities require intermediate B1 or B2 level admission, while the top universities only accept advanced C1 or C2 level as admittance criteria. It all depends on the institute and course of study.

4. Access to employment prospects

Another benefit of having YKI is the candidate becomes of high demand for firms. The candidate will be able to gain advantage from a diverse set of employment options ranging from industry, and commerce to education. Career development also majorly depends on this. It propels a candidate to further their spot at the highest positions within multinational companies.

5. Lifetime validity

YKI test is valid for a lifetime. There is no expiration of the retaking requirement of this test. This is one of the biggest plus points because it can be useful throughout life. It also applies as an achievement even If you move to any other country.

When and Where to Take YKI?

There is not just one chance, but many chances to take the YKI test throughout the year. There are many dates available on their official website. Make sure that you register for the test two months before taking it for a smooth experience.

Talking about the location where you can take the exam. There are several exam centers available throughout Finland to take this test. Applicants can also select the city where they want to take the test. Simply choose the location on the ‘Test Center’ option on their official website. It will show you the numerous exam centers available and you can choose accordingly.

Cost of Taking the YKI

The fee for the YKI test depends on the level of proficiency the candidate decides to take the test. To register, you have to open their registration website. You need to provide all the personal details along with a working email address.

A working credit card is required to pay the fee online. After registering, you will receive a payment link at the provided email address. This is valid for 1–8 days. You can use this to pay for the fee online.

Within Finland, these are the YKI test prices:

YKI Level Price
Basic Level €135
Intermediate Level €155
Advanced Level €195

Outside of Finland, the YKI test prices are as follows:

YKI Level Price
Basic Level €200
Intermediate Level €225
Advanced Level €265

Overview of the YKI Scoring System

Various levels of YKI are required to gain admission to a Finland university. These levels were created to correspond with CEFR. CEFR is considered a globally regarded standard for evaluating language competence. Ranging from A1 to C1, there are 6 levels of CEFR. These refer to beginners up to native language speakers, respectively.

Students aspiring to take admission to an esteemed Finnish University need to look at the different levels that are accepted in these institutes. A brief explanation of the scoring system is presented here, including specifics of all levels.

CEFR YKI Level Linguistic Competence
A Basic Level A1 1 Beginner (Not Applicable)
The candidate can understand slow, clear speech. Simple and short texts with basic grammatical structures are understandable to the individual.
A2 2 Elementary (Not Applicable)
The individual comprehends clear and simple speech representing everyday situations. The candidate understands basic language skills and cues along with writing concise text.
B Intermediate Level B1 3 Intermediate (Undergraduate Level)
At this level, anyone can read and understand extensive, complicated texts in Finnish if they are related to the area of study or interests. At the B1 level, Finnish speakers are expected to be able to compose brief texts on familiar subjects, describe typical scenarios, and offer short explanations for their opinions.
B2 4 Intermediate (Undergraduate Level – Highly Recommended)
The candidate at this level comprehends the normal tempo of sentences and is fluent in speaking. The individual can easily communicate in official and unofficial settings. The main idea of intricate texts is easily understood by them.
C Advanced Level C1 5 Advanced (Graduate Level, Doctorate – Highly Recommended)
In the C1 level of competence, the candidate demonstrates an understanding of lengthier texts. He can use suitable vocabulary in different situations. The student is capable of conveying a message successfully in official, informal, casual, or work settings.
C2 6 Proficiency, Native speaker (Not Required)
The candidate shows fluency in communication and understanding. Contextually appropriate style is mastered at this level and the individual has complete command of vocabulary and shows a high degree of complexity in language and writing.


Overview of YKI Test Structure

The YKI is not a single lengthy test, but it is further divided into various sections. In each of these sections, there are different levels of questions, tasks, and activities that assess the proficiency of the candidate. The whole test takes around 180 minutes (three hours) to complete. Here is a detailed view of the YKI test structure.

Test Section Description
Speaking This section has a total time duration of 20 minutes.
It includes an interview and role-play. It tests the communication ability of the candidate.
The interview (10 minutes) includes a one-on-one interaction between the examiner and the candidate. The individual is asked questions that revolve around his interests and personal life.The role-play section (10 minutes) is a conversation where the candidate is provided an opportunity to express themselves given a certain situation. His cognitive abilities, conduct, and verbal expressions will be evaluated in this.
Listening Comprehension This section has a time duration of 40 minutes.
It is divided into 4 main parts.
Part 1: MCQs based on a short dialogue. (10 minutes)
Part 2: MCQs based on a short monologue (10 minutes)
Part 3: MCQs based on longer text (10 minutes)
Part 4:Rhetorical question based on longer text (10 minutes)
The candidate is assessed on his capability to understand and comprehend basic to advanced language in this part.
Writing This section has a time allotted of 60 minutes.
It is further divided into two main sections.
Part 1: Write an email to a person given a situation or topic. (30 minutes)
Part 2: Write a comprehensive essay on a topic. (30 minutes)
The writing skills and speed of the candidate are judged, and this is mostly important under the advanced levels of the test.
Reading Comprehension The reading section is allotted 60 minutes.
It is further divided into 6 sections, each evaluated and timed differently.
Part 1: MCQs built on short text (10 minutes)
Part 2: MCQs built on longer text (10 minutes)
Part 3:True/False questions depending on longer text (10 minutes)
Part 4: Rhetorical questions, depending on longer text (10 minutes)
Part 5: Similar questions depending on two texts (10 minutes)
Part 6:Write summary of a longer text (10 minutes)
The candidate’s ability to read and comprehend basic to advanced text is assessed in this section and determines the overall score of the individual.

Ways to Prepare for YKI

Here are some complex studying techniques that might help you gain an advantage and ultimately succeed in YKI.

1. Strategize early

Make a plan and schedule your preparation according to it. Stick to the plan and employ it daily. Allot time to each section of the test equally to cover all basics. Start early to go through all aspects of the test.

2. Get familiar with the test structure

Make sure that you know all the sections and requirements of the YKI test. Understanding its format is key. Not knowing what may come in the test may result in low marks which require retaking the test. You need to understand the different subsections of the test and how timing can affect their result.

3. Preliminary practices

Properly completing the YKI demands a lot of prep. Setting up dedicated study time for every aspect of Finnish is the most viable approach to improving weak areas. The best way to do well under timed test settings is to be well-versed in the kind of questions that will be asked.

The reading and listening portions of the exam will be simpler for candidates who have a broad vocabulary. One such method of improving language abilities is by using internet resources. Candidates who invest their efforts into studying the particulars of a certain regional dialect may see their scores improve on tests reflecting their ability to comprehend Finnish.

4. Mock tests

There is a diverse range of mock tests available online to take the YKI tests. These can be used as practice material for self-evaluation. These are ideal to understand time management and your errors which can be saved on the test day. Sample exams contain many questions that may also appear in the real exam, which might be a great help.

5. Preparatory courses

Some online communities, study groups, and prep courses exist to aid the student’s YKI preparation. They offer structured guidance and support that might be needed to conduct the test properly.

Universities and Institutions Accepting YKI

The following are only some of the top Finnish universities that welcome students who have passed the YKI Exam.

# University Name City/Location Minimum YKI Score Accepted
1 University of Helsinki Helsinki C1-All courses
2 Aalto University Otaniemi B1- All courses
3 University of Turku Turku B2- All courses
4 University of Oulu Oulu B2 – All courses
5 University of Eastern Finland Joensuu B2 – All courses
6 University of Jyväskylä Jyväskylä B2 – Undergraduate courses
C1- Post-graduate and doctoral Courses
7 Abo Akademi University Turku C1 – All courses
8 Metropolia University of Applied Sciences  Helsinki B2 – All courses
9 Karelia University of Applied Sciences Joensuu B2 – All courses


Language is a big factor in enrollment. Due to the test’s advanced nature, YKI certifies that the candidate shows complete command over Finnish to study in the Finland institutes. International students can benefit from passing this test, but it requires meticulous planning.


We hope you make use of this article once you decide to study in Finland. Unsure of what study program to take? Here’s a list of Available Programs in Europe!  And if you want to know more about a particular language exam in other European countries, feel free to check out the Foreign Language Proficiency Exams page!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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