Italian Citizenship Test. All you need to know.

Due to the amendments to the Italian law in December 2018, it is now compulsory to obtain an Italian B1 language certification for all applicants for Italian citizenship through marriage or residence.

Anyone applying for dual citizenship under these terms must prove an adequate competence in the Italian language.

What does ‘B1’ stand for?

The Italian level B1 is the third level of Italian in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), a definition of the different language levels stated by the Council of Europe.

In other words, those who have reached the B1 language level have a level of Italian that is beyond the basics but still not perfect. He or she can interact with the language on a day-to-day basis, deal with most of the situations on a trip to Italy, describe personal experiences, events, or aspirations, and briefly express his opinions. 

How To Prepare For The B1 Exam 

To reach a B1 Italian level, it means that you have already completed the two previous levels: A1 (beginner) and A2 (elementary). If you haven’t done it yet, I suggest you sign up for general Italian classes at a language institution near you or by hiring a private tutor. For online learning options, I recommend using:

  • Preply is an online marketplace with tutors from all over the world, including Italy. Certain tutors are trained to prepare students for the certification exams.
  • Rocket Italian is an online, self-paced course that can help you lay out an itinerary for your study time, and it’s available for complete beginners too.

If you have already studied some Italian but don’t know at what level it is, I suggest you have your level assessed by a professional teacher (if you would like your Italian to be assessed by me, you can book your call here).

Don’t forget that it’s a crucial part of your preparation to train all four competencies of language learning, which are reading, writing, speaking, and listening. All of the B1 certification exam is, in fact, split into different tasks, each one tackling one of these competencies.

How long does it take to learn Italian at a B1 level? 

It all depends on your level. If you are an absolute beginner in Italian, it might take anywhere from 12 to 36 months, depending on your time commitment and native language. If you already have a solid intermediate level, it might take you only as little as a couple of months. 

A1 and A2 grammar topics 

Italian PronunciationHow to correctly pronounce Italian words and sounds.
Articles (Definite and Indefinite)The use of definite (il, la, i, le) and indefinite (un, una, uno) articles.
Number and Gender of Adjectives and NounsUnderstanding the gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural) of adjectives and nouns.
Present Indicative of Regular VerbsConjugating regular verbs in the present tense.
Present Indicative of Irregular VerbsConjugating irregular verbs in the present tense.
Reflexive VerbsHow reflexive verbs work in Italian.
Modal Verbs (Voglio, Posso, Devo)Using modal verbs like “want,” “can,” and “must.”
Verb Piacere and Impersonal VerbsUnderstanding the use of “piacere” and other impersonal verbs.
Past Tense (Passato Prossimo)Forming the past tense in Italian.
Reflexive Verbs with Passato ProssimoUsing reflexive verbs in the past tense.
Imperfect Tense (Imperfetto)Forming and using the imperfect tense.
Future SimpleHow to express future actions.
Imperative MoodGiving commands or making requests.
Direct and Indirect Object PronounsReplacing objects with pronouns.
Possessive AdjectivesIndicating possession with adjectives.
Present ProgressiveDescribing ongoing actions in the present.
Impersonal Form “Si”Using the impersonal form “si.”
Indefinite Adjectives (Nessuno, Niente, Ogni, etc.)Expressing indefinite quantities or qualities.
Articulated PrepositionsCombining prepositions with articles.
Conditional FormExpressing hypothetical actions.
Particle “Ci”Understanding the use of the particle “ci.”

B1 grammar topics for the Citizenship Exam

Reflexive Verbs with Passato Prossimo and Other Verbal FormsHow reflexive verbs are used with different verb tenses.
Difference in the Usage of Passato, Prossimo, and ImperfettoUnderstanding when to use the past tenses in Italian.
Double Object Pronouns (Me lo, Te la, etc.)Using pronouns to replace direct and indirect objects.
Pronouns “Ci” and “Ne”Understanding the use of these pronouns in various contexts.
Correct Use of Articles and PrepositionsKnowing when and how to use articles and prepositions.
Indefinite Adjectives (Qualche, Alcuni, Nessuno)Expressing indefinite quantities or qualities.
Comparatives (Più Buono, Più Bello, etc.)Forming comparisons in Italian.
Present ConditionalExpressing hypothetical actions in the present.
Present SubjunctiveUsing the subjunctive mood in the present tense.

B1 conversation topics

Your WorkDiscussing your occupation, job responsibilities, and career goals.
Your VacationsSharing experiences from your trips and favorite travel destinations.
Your HobbiesTalking about your interests, such as music, movies, sports, or books.
The EnvironmentDiscussing environmental issues like pollution and recycling.
Healthcare SystemsComparing and discussing healthcare systems in your country and Italy.
Education SystemsComparing and discussing education systems in your country and Italy.
Shopping HabitsSharing your shopping preferences and habits.
RelationshipsTalking about various aspects of personal relationships.
Educational Background and Future TrainingDiscussing your academic background and plans for further education.
Debating Various TopicsEngaging in debates about the advantages and disadvantages of different subjects.

What Are The Available Certifications For The B1 Cittadinanza test?

Italian Language Proficiency ExamInstitutionMore Information
CILS B1 CittadinanzaUniversity of Siena for ForeignersMore Information
CELI 2 CittadinanzaUniversity of Perugia for ForeignersMore Information
PLIDA B1Dante Alighieri AssociationMore Information

All of the above certifications are available in Italy and at Italian institutions and schools around the world.

What’s the structure of the tests? 

All of the B1 language tests aim at assessing all of the competencies of language learning and they’re generally split into five sections covering listening, reading, writing and speaking. However, one task’s specifics and lengths may change from one type of exam to another.  

The CILS B1 certification 

I would say that the CILS certification is most recognized worldwide as it has the most significant number of exam centers worldwide, spread among Italian schools, universities, or other types of institutions.  It is also easier to access prep material for the CILS certification online in the form of courses or books.

The CILS offers two types of B1 exams: The CILS B1 Cittadinanza and the CILS B1. 

How does the CILS B1 Cittadinanza differ from the regular CILS B1?

The CILS B1 Cittadinanza has been specially designed for all those applicants that need to obtain the Italian Certification for Citizenship. It thus has a focus on the communicative aspects that the potential passport holder might be involved in. 

The CILS B1 level for Citizenship includes a reduced number of tasks compared to the regular CILS B1 exam (two listening tasks, two reading tasks, one speaking task, and one writing task) and takes around 2 hours instead of 5. 

However, one thing to keep in mind is that, the CILS B1 for Citizenship has to be passed in full. It means that you’ll have to pass all the sections of the exam he other to succeed at exam. This is different from the other CILS tests, where the applicants are allowed to you retake only those parts of the exam that they have not passed, if they have failed in the first place. 

List of CILS exam centers around the world

More information about how to pass the CILS B1 Cittadinanza test here.

The CELI certification 

The CELI certification is very similar to the CILS certification. The CELI also provides a shortened citizenship exam (CELI 2 Cittadinanza). However, this letter is only available in Italy. So, if you do not live in Italy, I would recommend taking the CILS B1 for Citizenship, which is offered by many language schools  around the world.

Check out my page here if you want to learn more about the CELI 2 exam.

List of CELI exam centers around the world.

The PLIDA certification 

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Because the PLIDA exam does not have a Citizenship version, you must take a regular B1 exam.  Although this exam is longer than the CILS and CELI, I believe it is easier. This certification  It is mostly available in South America, Canada, and Europe.  Only one or two centers in the United States currently provide it.

More information about the PLIDA B1 exam here.

CertificationTypes of B1 ExamsDescription and Differences
CILSCILS B1 Cittadinanza– Must pass all sections.
– Offered worldwide.
CELICELI 2 Cittadinanza– Available only in Italy.
PLIDA– Regular B1 Exam– No specific citizenship version.
– Longer than CILS and CELI B1.
– Available in South America, Canada, and Europe, but few examination centers in the United States.

Test preparation material 

To pass the B1 Cittadinanza exam successfully, you don’t just need to have a good command of the topics I listed above, but you also need to be acquainted with the exam structure. Knowing beforehand in what order the tasks are presented, how much time you will be allowed for every task, and the specific requirements of each task will make the difference on the day of the exam.

My suggestion is to get as many exam samples as you can. You can find them online in the form of a certification or as a textbook on Amazon.Just dial your accreditation and your level.

Once you reach the intermediate level, you can start to train to pass your B1 citizenship certification. 

The best game plan is to buy a textbook that collects the certification test samples. 


Do you offer a prep course for the B1 Citizenship Test?

We offer individual classes for highly motivated students who want to perfect their Italian and get in the right shape for the exam.

If you can’t commit to regular classes or just need a quick fix for the exam (e.g., a customized learning plan or getting your mock test checked out), you can book a one time individual class with me here.  

Serena Capilli

I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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Ciao, I’m Serena! I’m the creative force behind both this blog and my collection of short stories in simple Italian for language learners, available on Amazon.

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