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Everything you need to know about the DALF C1 exam

In this article, we’ll tell you about what DALF is and what you will find on the exam. DALF stands for the Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française. It’s an exam to assess a candidate’s competency with the French language and is intended for non-native speakers. There are two DALF diplomas that correspond to CEFR levels C1 and C2. DALF tests advanced level French language skills and is used by candidates 18 years old or over.

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Don’t confuse DALF with the DELF. Both exams are meant for non-native French speaking candidates. Both exams (DELF/DALF) assess four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Basically, DALF (Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue), which has four exams, is designed to test CEFR levels A1, B1, A2,B2, while DALF focuses on CEFR levels C1-C2. The CEFR is the Common European Framework of Reference for languages and is the standard by which exams, books, courses etc. align themselves.


Here are brief descriptions of the CEFR levels:

CEFR LevelDescription
C2 ProficientThe ability to deal with material that is academic or demanding, using language effectively at a very high level of performance. Many C2 level candidates can match an average native speaker’s level.
C1 AdvancedA C1 level individual can communicate in most situations effectively and relatively easily. This candidate has an excellent command of the language and is an able user in most situations.
B2 Upper intermediateThis candidate would have the ability to achieve most goals and discuss a wide range of topics. Academic materials, and specialized materials can cause trouble, but common situations are handled easily.
B1 Low-intermediate to intermediateB1 level people are able to express themselves in familiar daily situations and to deal in a general way with non-routine information that isn’t too demanding.
A2 Elementary A person can handle simple, everyday information and can express common feelings.

A1 Beginner You have a basic ability to communicate and exchange information in a simple way: give your name, say times, etc.

Keep in mind that the exams are not placement tests. DELF and DALF won’t tell you what your level is. You need to determine your level and take the appropriate test to earn a diploma and validate your French language level. This rule works also when chosing an accredited test center in the UK, in paris or in Québec for example.

DALF C1 Level-the Test Structure

There are 4 sections in the DALF C1 exam: reading, listening, writing and speaking.

Listening section

There are two sections. In the first section, candidates answer a series of questions about a long recording that is around 8 minutes long and is taken from real situations such as interviews or lessons. You can listen to the recording twice.

In the second section, candidates have to answer 10 questions about short radio broadcasts, which are only played once. The total time for the listening section is 40 minutes.

Reading section

In the reading section of DALF, exam candidates will have to answer questions on a long text of 1500 – 2000 words; it could be either in a journalistic or literary style. It takes 50 minutes.

Writing section

The writing section of DALF has two sections. In the first section, candidates will be given 2 – 3 texts to read and asked to write a summary of 220 words. In the second section, you’ll have to write an essay of 250 words on the same topic as the texts you have just read. You have 2.5 hours for the writing section.

Speaking section

Candidates need to give a short speech and discuss a series of questions with the examiners. You get 60 minutes before speaking to read two-three documents about a topic and then prepare what you want to say. The speech plus the discussion lasts for about 30 minutes. That’s 1.5 hours altogether for the speaking section. You need to go into details, explaining your comments and refer back to what you have read.

The scoring for the exam is evenly distributed between the four areas: 25 points for each section with a total of 100 points possible overall. To pass the exam, a minimum of 5/25 must be achieved in each section, and a minimum of 50/100 overall is needed.

Getting Ready for the DALF Exam

Some basic tips are:

  • Tip#1 Practice (a lot)

Don’t open a book two days before a C1 level language exam and expect to do well. The C1 level is challenging and the DALF exam is a C1-C2 level exam. Start practicing months before- yes, that’s right, months, not days.

  • Tip#2 Manage your time and set aside regular study sessions.

Manage your time and plan your study sessions. If you don’t know what time management is, then read about it. We have some good articles on test preparation on GlobalExam that talk about time management. If you don’t study regularly, then you will not consolidate what you have learned and you will not do well on DALF.

  • Tip#3 Find practice exams in books or online

There are oodles of books, websites and materials to help you prepare for DALF. Go to your public library and ask for help. Don’t be afraid to utilize more than one resource, but you don’t need to borrow every book ever written for the exam.

  • Tip#4 Hire a tutor

If you have the spare cash, then hire a tutor. A tutor can provide individual feedback. Make sure that your tutor is familiar with the DALF exam.

If you wish to learn more on the DELF garding system and how to improve your score, we have written an article for you.

Training with Global Exam

Well, GlobalExam is a test preparation expert. It’s what we do, and we are passionate about it. Here’s what we can offer you at GlobalExam:

The free stuff (€0.00)

  • 5 Typical exercises
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  • 11 Mock exams
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With the premium package, you can choose the study path that is adapted to your goals. Also, we offer statistics that will track your progress. The mock exams allow for simulation of the conditions on the actual day of your DALF exam. Corrected questions are a big help since as a candidate preparing for an exam, you need to know what you get wrong and why. Let us help you get ready for DALF C1 and the DALF C2 on all sections. With GlobalExam, you can get a good score at the DALF and attain your language test goals.