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Would you pass an Austrian citizenship test?

To become an Austrian citizen, it’s compulsory to pass the citizenship test. But what does it involve?

Would you pass an Austrian citizenship test?
Photo: Alexander Klein/AFP

For many people taking the naturalisation route to Austrian citizenship, the test can be a daunting part of the process with lots of studying involved to pass.

But how hard is it? And what does it entail?

The Local spoke to people preparing for it to find out.

What is the citizenship test?

The Austrian citizenship test is an exam designed to demonstrate an applicant’s knowledge of Austria. It was introduced in 2006.

It covers the democratic system, the national history and regional facts relating to where an applicant lives.

The questions on the democratic system and history of Austria are prepared by a central committee and the regional questions are prepared by the respective provincial governments.

If a person fails the test, they can retake it until they pass.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to become an Austrian citizen?

What does the exam involve?

The exam is in German and involves answering a series of multiple choice questions within two hours.

Raquel Macho, 52, from Solihull in the UK, lives in Leonding, Upper Austria, and will take the citizenship test at the end of April. 

She told The Local: “I have found it really interesting to learn about the history of Austria and Upper Austria and the democratic order of the country. Even my husband and kids who are Austrian have found some facts very interesting.

“There are 18 multiple choice questions in the test – six on the history of Austria, six on the democratic order and six on the history of your region.  

“In order to pass you need to achieve at least 12 points in total and fifty per cent of the required points for each group.”

The time and date of the tests are set by the provincial governments.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about getting Austrian citizenship

How do people study for the test?

Raquel is preparing for the exam on the Einbürgerung website – a platform dedicated to studying for the citizenship test.

Using the website involves selecting the region where you live and answering 18 random questions, which is useful to find out if there are any gaps in your knowledge.

Raquel said: “You have to get all the answers you choose on a question correct but sometimes there are up to three correct answers. 

“If you choose one answer which is correct and the second or third is incorrect then you lose the mark completely for that question. 

“So only choose the answers that you are absolutely sure are correct.”

Shan Aly, 32, from Pakistan, lives in Vienna and is also studying for the citizenship test, although he hasn’t booked a date for the exam yet. 

He told The Local: “There are lots of common sense questions to prepare for, as well as cultural topics to study.

“There is a lot of Austrian history to learn and even some Austrians I talk to are not aware of everything I am studying.

“It’s interesting to learn the history because it’s very different from the subcontinent where I’m from. We’re not taught about Austrian history in school there.”

So, are there any strange questions or topics to watch out for?

Raquel, from Solihull, said: “Not really – they are all valid questions and the answers should be known as a citizen of the country with everything covered from the monarchy, politics, wartime, the republic to EU membership.

“But the most fun one for me was the region where the Kaiser liked to spend his summers. 

“I’m not sure if it will be included in the official test but I have to agree with him that Salzkammergut is one of the most beautiful places in Upper Austria.”

Test your knowledge

Want to make a head start on studying for the Austrian citizenship test? 

Here are some sample questions from einbuergerung.at (originally in German but translated to English below).

  • What was the name given to the meeting of monarchs in Vienna between 1814 and 1815?
  • The United Nations Organization (UNO) was founded on June 26, 1945. Where is the UN headquarters?
  • What was the name of Austria’s first own constitution?
  • After the founding of the Republic of Austria, several crises followed. Which ones?
  • Who was the Foreign Minister of Austria when the State Treaty was signed?
  • What human right is violated by a forced marriage?

Fortunately, the Austrian citizenship test has a high pass rate – over 90 per cent. But it does require some studying to prepare.

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WEATHER

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

With violent storms becoming increasingly common in Austria, here’s how to protect yourself (and your home) this summer.

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

Storms are a regular occurrence in Austria during the summer months, but the strength and frequency seems to be increasing.

Overnight on Tuesday, June 28th, both the Pöllinger and the Treffner rivers in Carinthia burst their banks causing widespread flooding, mudslides and damage across the region.

Reports on Wednesday morning said the villages of Treffen am Ossiacher See and Arriach (Villach-Land district) were still metres under water and several people had been rescued from the deluge.

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

According to ORF, emergency services were still struggling to reach some areas and there were unconfirmed reports of missing people.

A Tweet from Unwetter-Freaks said: “Bad pictures from #Arriach in #Kärnten , which was hit by several storm cells last night. According to ORF, the place is currently cut off from the outside world and cannot be reached by the emergency services.”

Earlier this week, rural areas in Upper Austria were also hit by storms (overnight, June 27th) bringing torrential rain and hail the size of golf balls, which caused extensive damage to crops and grassland in the key agricultural state.

READ ALSO: 23 essential articles to help you navigate life in Austria

The Klaus reservoir had to be drained of 200 cubic metres of water to avoid flooding and trees were brought down across the province by wind gusts – some up to 91 km/h.

The Kronen Zeitung reports the storm caused damage to around 16,000 hectares of agriculture land, with insurers estimating the cost to be up to €6.5 million.

One Tweet showed the size of the hail on Monday night and read: “In the night we had ‘light’ hail.”

Storms then hit the region again on Tuesday night leading to a lightning strike on a hay barn in the Mühlviertel and the flooding of an underground car park in Linz.

With the summer season far from over and the possibility of more wild weather in the coming months, here’s how to stay safe during storms in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: When and where to avoid driving in Austria this summer

Check the weather report

It might sound obvious, but checking the weather forecast should be at the top of the list of summer storm preparations.

Unlike in the past, weather reports are now typically reliable, and apps like Bergfex and Accuweather are well-known for providing detailed forecasts and weather warnings.

However, long-range forecasts can change quickly, so if you’re planning a camping or hiking trip, be sure to check the weather between 24 and 48 hours before to avoid being caught out.

Additionally, the Österreichischen Unwetterzentrale (Austrian Severe Weather Centre) has regular updates about storms and weather forecasts for Austria and users can sign up for email and SMS notifications.

Stay indoors

According to the organisation, Die Helfer Wiens (The Helpers of Vienna) one of the biggest risks during a storm is being hit by a fallen tree or flying debris.

For this reason, they advise people (and pets) to stay indoors during a storm and close all windows and doors. 

If staying in a tent or campervan, it’s also a good idea to seek shelter in a building (if possible) until the storm has passed.

However, if you are outside during lightning, the Austrian Red Cross says the best approach is to crouch down into a ball to reduce the amount of contact you have with the floor.

READ MORE: How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

Stay away from the cellar

Cellars and underground car parks can quickly become flooded during heavy rain – as seen in recent storms in Upper Austria and Carinthia, and last year during violent storms across Austria.

Flash flooding can happen quickly (the clue is in the name), so stay away from cellars and underground spaces during a storm and call the emergency services if you suspect a flood in your home.

Remove plants and furniture from balconies

Having plants and flowers on a balcony is a lovely way to brighten up an outside space, but they risk being damaged during a storm.

To safeguard your pots and lovingly-planted flora, move them inside – especially during a thunderstorm with strong wind gusts and lightning.

The same applies to any outdoor furniture that could be damaged by wind or hail, like cushions, decorative objects and sun umbrellas.

Park cars under shelter

Hail is one of the leading causes of dents to bodywork on cars and damage to windscreens, both of which can be costly to repair.

If hail is forecast during a storm, park a car in a garage or under shelter, if possible. 

If strong wind is expected, then avoid parking a car under trees as debris, or even the tree itself, could end up landing on the vehicle.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How Austria banned everyone from the forest for 123 years

Don’t go into the forest

Whether walking or driving, the best advice is to stay from the forest or areas with lots of trees during a storm.

While sheltering under a tree can protect from rain or hail, lightning or strong wind can bring down trees. This makes the forest a dangerous place to be in a storm.

But if you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of being in a forest when a thunderstorm hits, stay away from low branches and tree trunks and crouch down low. Place any walking sticks or metal poles away from you and stay away from metal fences.

Avoid risky activities

Certain outdoor activities are especially hazardous if there’s a lightning storm. 

Any activity in an open area or that puts you into contact with water or metal is strongly advised against. So that means fishing, swimming, boating, cycling and golfing are out until the storm is over. 

Keep torches and candles ready

Power cuts are common during storms, so keep a stock of candles and torches ready in case you end up without electricity for several hours.

It’s also a good idea to have a portable USB charger to make sure your phone doesn’t run out of battery during an emergency.

Who to call in an emergency

These are the numbers to call if you need help from the Austrian emergency services during a storm.

122 – fire service (Feuerwehr).

133 – police (Polizei).

144 – ambulance (Krankenwagen or Rettungswagen).

120 – ÖAMTC emergency breakdown service.

123 – ARBÖ emergency breakdown service.

140 – mountain rescue.

Finally, 112 is the single European emergency number, whose operators will direct you to the relevant services. This number can even be called on a locked mobile phone without needing the pin.

Find out more with The Local’s guide on who to call and what to say in an emergency.

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