Language, History, Law and Culture testing for Residency

David Maltby

Following on from my previous articles, on Temporary Residency, Full Residency, and Individual Entrepreneur status, I received a number of enquiries regarding the ‘Russian Language’ exam which was introduced in 2015 for both temporary and permanent residency. This article will explain the test components and some of the content, and may help you decide if it’s something you want (or perhaps need) to pursue.

First, I think that the description of ‘Russian Language’ test is misleading. I know a few people from the Moscow expat community who have excellent Russian language skills, but would fail this test completely. That’s because the test doesn’t only examine your Russian language skills. There are a number of separate sections to complete.

Secondly I state my usual caveat – I write not as an expert in the field, just as someone who has ‘been there and done that’. Speaking to others, the tests and the learning experience seems to be highly variable. It pays to do your research before starting out.

So, to begin….

For the Temporary residence permit (Разрешение на Временное Проживание)

‘Russian Language’ consists of 5 sections:

  • Grammar
  • Reading
  • Listening
  • Writing
  • Comprehension

You must gain 70% on each part. You can scrape through with 60% in one section only, if all other results above 70%.

 ‘History of Russia’ consists of 20 questions. In order to pass this module, you’ll have to score 50%.

The paper is a multiple choice questionnaire.

‘Fundamentals of legislation of the Russian Federation’ consists of 20 questions, and in order to pass this module you’ll have to score over 50%. The paper is a multiple-choice questionnaire.

Please check these numbers before you sign up with a school. I’ve seen different pass levels quoted on some web sites.

For the Full Residency Permit (Вид на Жительство)

For full Residency, the testing follows the same format, but the tests are harder and the pass mark is higher. For ‘Russian Language’, you’ll have to score 80% in each section to pass. However, you can score 70% for one part, if all the other parts are passed with over 80%.

‘History of Russia’ 20 questions with a pass level of 75%.

‘Fundamentals of legislation of the Russian Federation’ again 20 questions with a pass level of 75%.

Examples from the full residency paper on Russian grammar

As you can see from this extract, it’s typical multiple-choice format. Usual technique for something you don’t know – discount the obviously incorrect ones and take a guess at the rest – worked for me J . There are 20 questions which have to be completed in 10 minutes.

Next, there will either be someone reading, or an audio playing. You need to listen to the situation, then answer questions about what is going on. Usually these are everyday conversations. The comprehension tests follow the same format as the reading test, but you will listen to a dialogue, or perhaps an announcement, and answer four questions on each situation.

I listened to a conversation between two people waiting for a bus – which was late. You’ll hear that every day and everywhere for sure. There were 3 or 4 different scenarios and about 10 questions to answer in 15 minutes.

As a side-note, I understand that if you are applying for a ‘patent’ (or work permit), you also need to provide a language certificate, but I’m not writing about that here – mainly as I don’t know anything about the patent system and if you have full residency, as I do, you don’t need a work permit. A patent (a document confirming the right of a foreign national who entered Russia on visa-free basis to temporarily work in Russia) is another matter altogether.

Reading test

Usually these are short passages of text with four questions on the subject. Here is an example, one of the easier ones;

У вас заболел желудок. Узнайте из инструкции, как принимать гастрофарм.


Препарат для лечения гастритов и язвенной болезни.

Способ употребления:

 Принимать внутрь 3 раза в день за полчаса до еды по 1 – 2 таблетки при появлении боли. Таблетки надо разжевать и запить большим количеством воды. Таблетки гастрофарма нужно запить большим количеством воды.

    • 1. за полчаса перед едой, если болит желудок
    • 2. через полчаса после еды при болях в желудке
    • 3. за 2 часа до еды ежедневно
    • 4. через час после обеда, если начал болеть желудок

Writing Test

My writing test was to complete a hand-written letter for a job application. It sounds simple enough, but you need to know the acceptable format here in Russia. Just writing a free-form letter won’t do it I’m afraid. I got away with a few spelling mistakes (!) but as I knew the format from the test examples I’d seen, and I’d practised it a couple of times during study, it was easy enough. You have 15 minutes to do this.

Russian Test

Twenty multiple choice questions ranging from the year AD 882, the founding of the Kievan Rus state, to present day. There are some trick questions in there too – anyone remember the years that Medvedev was President?

The more recent history is reasonably well known, say from Catherine the Great, but the earlier history is less well known, in my experience at least. I’m sure Russian readers are smiling here – I used my kids’ school books for this one.

Законодательство or Law and Socio-cultural

For me this was the most difficult part, mainly as some of this is pretty dull, and when it’s in another language I find it a real challenge to maintain interest, but here goes. The questions are mainly around things which affect immigrants and in particular immigrant labourers. They deal with things like compulsory response times (service levels) in government departments for return or completion of documents, marriage rights, and police powers. The range of difficulty goes from ‘What is the currency of the Russian Federation?’ to something like;

В какой срок должно быть рассмотрено обращение лица, поступившее непосредственно в ФМС России?

Выберите один ответ:

 А. Не более чем 10 дней со дня обращения 

 Б. Не более 30 дней со дня обращения

 В. В день обращения.

And similar questions. There are quite a range of topics here too, and the 30 minutes for the 20 questions seems a little tight, maybe because the questions need to be read carefully and the lexicon isn’t all that familiar.

Going back to school?

There are several commercial language schools who can provide courses for both РвП and ВнЖ. As you can see from the links, the Universities also provide them. Personally, I studied the history and law parts in a teacher training college twice a week (2 x 2 hours) for 3 months and worked through school books, but everyone has their own method.

If successful you will receive your certificate of competence, which you will need for your residency application. It is valid for 5 years, and is specific to your application – i.e. you can’t use your certificate for temporary residency for full residency! I hear it’s a common thing at UFMS to see this.

As a footnote, I received an email recently from a long-term veteran Moscow expat who was applying for RVP. He’s been here about 20 years or so. Apart from some general advice on how to start the process, I sent him the grammar test papers I had via email, in an effort to help him through the mire. He replied back very quickly, thanking me for the papers, adding,

‘Cheers mate, any chance you could send me an English version? My Russian’s not so good……’

David Maltby is a long-term Moscow resident with extensive experience of Project Management, Business Development, and Professional Services consultancy in the Logistics and Supply Chain domain. He has provided consultancy, freelance and project services to major players such as PepsiCo, DHL, Barkawi Management Consultants, Balfour Beatty and others.

Web links to example tests

Law and social structure tests:

History Tests:

Russian Language:

Others:                                             Aural comprehension                                                             Generic tests (not for RVP & VnZh)