How to succeed at the CILS B1 for Citizenship – My best strategies
If you are here, you need to pass the Italian certification test to get your citizenship. In this post, I will expand on the CILS B1 for Citizenship test (CILS B1 cittadinanza).
For the sake of thoroughness, I must say there are at least two other B1 certifications that will serve you to get your citizenship. The reason why I am expanding on the CILS is that:
- The CILS is the most popular one and the one that many of my students have already taken and passed.
- People who want to become citizens can take a test called CILS B1 Cittadinanza, which is easier to take and shorter than the regular CILS B1 test.
- The CILS Citizenship can be taken both in Italy and abroad, while other citizenship exams, like the CELI, can be taken just in Italy.
The CILS B1 for citizenship (CILS B1 Cittadinanza) consists of four sections and will take 2.05 hours to complete, with a 15 minute break.
The four sections are:
- the listening task
- the reading comprehension and syntax section
- the writing production
- the oral production
1. Preparing for the Listening Section
The Italian CILS B1 for Citizenship consists of 2 audio recordings.
What is the best way to improve your listening skills to pass the CILS Citizenship test?
Your listening is not perfect at this stage, and you can probably grasp basic Italian conversations here and there using the most systematic vocabulary.
To improve your Italian listening at this point, you should use audio materials that are suitable for your level.
The rule of thumb is that if you don’t understand most of it, you are not using the correct audio source for your current level. To challenge your listening and gradually improve, you should not try to understand a movie or even the Italian TV news (that will turn into an overwhelming activity and is not useful to hone your intermediate listening skills). Instead, it would help if you listened to audio sources that are slightly higher than your current level of Italian. Like this, you help your brain absorb the new language naturally and consciously.
That means that you should listen to understandable content (you understand most of it).
What I recommend to my students is to use the Italian short stories with incorporated audio for beginner or intermediate levels. You can find a comprehensive list of the best short stories available with slow audio on the market here.
- Best Italian Short Stories for Italian Learners
- My short story collection narrated by me in slow Italian
The key to improving your listening skills in Italian is being exposed to the right content at the right level as much as possible.
Another helpful resource to improve your listening comprehension skills is:
You can learn more about this resource on my blog post here. It’s especially great for getting the hang of how conversations work in Italian.
2. Preparing for the Reading Section
The Italian CILS for Citizenship (B1) consists of 2 short texts and lasts 40 minutes. The first text requires you to complete multiple-choice answers. The second text is a vocabulary-based exercise about choosing the right word for each gap.
How to improve your reading to pass the B1 Italian language exam?
At this level, I recommend my students use the Italian short stories for levels A2–B1 or read the news using the website ANSA.
As stated in many of my articles, reading is a fundamental part of your Italian language learning process. When you read, you naturally pick up on the correct language patterns and use the passive vocabulary and grammar you’ve learned in different situations.
The short stories are great because they are short (while a whole book might be overwhelming, you can choose those that adapt more to your actual level). If you want to improve your beginner or intermediate reading skills, I recommend using these short stories in simple Italian. That’s what I use with my private clients too and I guarantee it’s one of the best ways to level up your Italian.
3. Preparing for the Writing Section
The writing part for the CILS B1 for citizenship consists of two writing prompts: an e-email (around 80 words) and a short essay (approximately 100 words) about a general topic regarding your life (e.g., describing your latest birthday or vacation). You’ll need to choose and complete only one prompt.
A sample of writing prompts from a CILS B1 Citizenship exam
How to improve your Italian writing to pass a certification?
Needless to say that you need to practice your writing skills to pass this task.
Writing won’t only help you pass your Italian exam, though. It’s also a fantastic way to brush up on high-frequency errors, prepositions, and verb conjugations in Italian.
The most important part is to have your Italian texts corrected and edited by your professional teacher (best case scenario) or your language exchange partner. Most learners use their language exchange partners only to practice their conversational skills. Why not use your Italian conversation partner to have your short essay corrected? I guarantee you will be surprised at how much you can learn from your mistakes.
To give you an idea of how writing can be effective and efficient to improve your Italian grammar and speaking flow..
This is a short text written by an intermediate student preparing for her citizenship exam; as you can see, it is possible to detect some of her high-frequency mistakes through a simple piece of writing.
A writing prompt can serve as a magical tool to point out your common mistakes in grammar and vocabulary. In this case, despite having reached an intermediate level, she was misusing the words meglio/migliore, male/cattivo, and il/lo. Addressing high-frequency mistakes is essential. If you don’t do that at the due time, they will become automatic mistakes and spoil your overall fluency in the long run.
4. Preparing for the Oral Section
The speaking part for the CILS B1 consists of four speaking prompts, and you’ll have the chance to choose which one you want to expand on.
Once you start talking about your chosen topic, the examiner will step in with some questions to test your ability to debate and be engaged in a real conversation.
Before this, you’ll also be asked to introduce yourself.
The speaking part lasts around 10 minutes, and it is recorded on the spot.
Best textbooks to study for the CILS B1 Citizenship exam
Once you land the intermediate level, you can start to train to pass your CILS B1 citizenship certification. The best is to buy a textbook that collects the certification test samples.
Do you offer a prep course for the Cils B1 Cittadinanza?
I offer individual courses for highly motivated students who want to perfect their Italian and get in the right shape for the exam.
If you don’t have time to commit to regular meetings or just need a quick fix for the exam (e.g., a customized learning plan), you can book a one-time session with me here.
Learn relevant vocabulary for your Italian Citizenship Exam with my short story in intermediate Italian (with slow audio)
Fiona is the first in her Italian-American family to learn her ancestors’ language. At university in the US, she earned a scholarship and moved to Rome to improve her Italian for a semester. But there’s more to the story. To complete an Italian citizenship application, she must obtain a copy of her great-grandfather’s birth certificate. This brings her to Sicily. In Sicily, she has several encounters that will forever alter her future.