Glaring errors in Spain’s citizenship exam

by Deborah Cater
Spanish citizenship exam contained errors

The handbook provided to people preparing for the 2022 citizenship exam contained some glaring errors. The citizenship test, known as the CCSE, requires candidates to answer 15 out of 25 questions correctly.

The ‘unfortunate errors’ in the preparation handbook for the 2022 exam included listing Mariano Rajoy as prime minister and stating the death penalty is part of Spanish law.

The Cervantes Institute drafts and administers the official citizenship exam handbook. It says it has now corrected the mistakes, reports El País.

What is the citizenship exam?

To obtain citizenship of Spain, usually requires passing the CCSE and taking a language test – the DELE A2, unless a high level of Spanish can be proven.

The CCSE test, which costs €85, asks applicants 25 questions. At least 15 of these must be answered correctly within a 45-minute timeframe. Topics include Spanish society, the fundamental rights and obligations of Spaniards, and the government and political framework.

The questions are in multiple choice format with three possible answers – A, B or C.

Errors in 5% of the total questions

Errors were found in 12 of the 300 questions (5%) included in the citizenship exam preparation manual. According to the Cervantes Institute, a “computer glitch” is to blame for the erroneous information contained in the handbook. The institute published the manual on November 29.

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The errors were allegedly caused by the fact the computer program preserved the same letters to represent the correct answers on new test questions.

The errors included stating Mariano Rajoy is still prime minister – he left office in 2018. Another error calls the Spanish Constitution a secondary law. Furthermore, the handbook states the death penalty still exists; however, it was banned in 1978 and completely abolished in 1995.

The Cervantes Institute has called the incident “an unfortunate mistake”. It also admitted it is potentially serious as tests are automatically marked. This means the system could give a fail to applicants who had correctly answered the questions.

Legalteam noticed the errors

A group called Legalteam noticed the mistakes and alerted the public agency. Officials said the errors had already come to their attention through various channels. These sources said experts have now checked the handbook’s answers “one by one” and fixed all the mistakes.

Clearly, there was a serious gap in the proofreading and editing before publishing the citizenship exam handbook. Anyone with knowledge of Spanish society would have spotted that primary education is free and driver’s licenses are issued by the traffic authority, the Dirección General de Tráfico (DGT).

Legalteam, which provides legal advice on citizenship issues, also flagged that the Cervantes Institute requires applicants to show their TIE card (Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjeros or Foreign Citizen Identity Card), and accepts no other legal documents in its place. The legal advisors noted that when foreign citizens renew their residency papers, the protection this affords “has full legal effects before any government administration.” However, sources at the Cervantes replied it is up to the justice and interior ministries to determine what documentation is necessary to avoid cases of fraud in citizenship examinations

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