Ombudsman report: written naturalization exams in Greece need “improvement”

The Greek Ombudsman was investigating the process of written naturalization exams in Greece after several candidates withdrew from two lengthy tests in November.

The independent body did not find any evidence that the process had been compromised in any way, however it recommended improvements as the exams increased candidates’ stress due to deficiencies.

As Minister of the Interior Makis Voridis told the state news agency Amna on Sunday, the procedure for the Greek citizenship exams, through which applicants obtain the “Certificate of Sufficiency of Knowledge for Naturalization” required to become a Greek citizen, has become completely fair and flawless. …

The minister cited the results of an audit carried out by the Greek Ombudsman, an independent body, on the day of the last written examination, 7 November.

The entire process, which was similar to that used for the nationwide university entrance exams, was also overseen by a representative of the National Transparency Office, while the expert inspector of the Ombudsman also visited the grading center for examinations two days later.

The inspector’s report ruled out any possibility that the process had been compromised in any way, and there was no repeat of the problems encountered during the previous exams held in May.

However, the Ombudsman noted that there were several cases of severe stress and panic among candidates who passed the two written exams, attributing this to fatigue due to the length of the process and the instructions, which were often unclear and confusing.

More than half of candidates failed or abandoned the exam ahead of time, with the authorities reporting exam questions with a high level of difficulty, long length, and several types of “open-ended” questions that were unnecessarily difficult to understand.

To further improve the process, the Ombudsman recommended that the authorities re-examine the difficulty level of the exam and use a simpler language and multiple choice formats for the next examinations in May.

Recently enacted legislative changes in the naturalization process have also simplified the citizenship application process as it no longer requires a separate certification of the applicant’s ability to participate in the country’s political life, which is believed to be covered by passing an exam. At the same time, the oral interview was canceled, except in cases where there are doubts about the applicant’s ability to be economically and socially integrated.

PS According to the teachers of the Greek language, who, like mushrooms, grew here and there after the introduction of innovations, the questions for the exams cover the 5-6 year course of a general education school, and sometimes approach the level of university students.

The total volume of recommended textbooks is about 1300 pages of text, tables and figures, which is many times higher than the previous questions and recommendations for exams.

In the opinion of applicants for naturalization, the authorities want to siphon off more money from them, because for each retake one has to pay a pretty decent amount, by the standards of Greece, in the amount of 150 euros.

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