The TCF Test is a test for students of the French language and is run by the CIEP for the French Ministry of Education. It can be used to demonstrate French language skills for employment applications, for immigration purposes or just for individuals to test their level.

The TCF Test follows the European standards set forward in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).  

The Paris Institute of Political Studies in France uses TCF level C1 as the primary language standard for assessing the skills of French language students to follow academic discussions and carry out academic research in the French language.

There are different sections and instructions in the TCF. The TCF is divided into three mandatory tests which include reading, listening and language structures sections that are mandatory and then two other optional writing and speaking sections.

Read on and start preparing for the TCF with GlobalExam!

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What is the format of the optional speaking section?

The spoken exam is a one-to-one recorded interview with an examiner, which lasts for a total of about 15 minutes. The examiner can ask questions about almost anything, so candidates need to think and react quickly. Questions are of a general nature and could be related to work, home or leisure time.

The questions are divided into six levels, from level A1 to level C2 in correspondence with the CEFR. 

The candidate is assessed on their ability to communicate and react to the cues given by the examiner. Candidates are asked to describe places and people, talk about their living conditions, and current or future work or studies. They may need to describe experiences, events and plans, talk about the plot of a book or film and give their opinions.  They may also need to express their agreement and disagreement, present arguments and make conclusions. Once finished, the recorded interview is sent to the CIEP for assessment after the examination.

What about the optional writing section?

This part of the exam includes exercises that get progressively more difficult, each of which also corresponds to one of the six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (level A1 to level C2). Candidates have 1 hour 45 minutes to complete this part of the exam. Candidates might be asked to write personal letters, reports or compare opinions.

Prepare for the optional sections of the TCF.

The number of words depends on the exercise and could be as follows:

  • A simple message (about 40 words)
  • A personal letter about everyday situations (about 60 words)
  • A report about an experience (about. 80 words)
  • A text about a point of view (about 100 words)
  • Compare two opinions and take a stance on a topic (about 100 to 125 words)
  • Summarise the main ideas in a text (about 100 words).

Candidates need to follow instructions, communicate clearly, link ideas together, express opinions and support their arguments.  They need to use appropriate vocabulary related to the topic and show that they can use complex grammar structures correctly. Once candidates have completed the writing tasks, the finished texts are also sent to CIEP headquarters for grading. 

How is the TCF test scored for the different levels?

TCF scores are ranked on 6 levels, ranging from A1 to C2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

  • A1: 100-199
  • A2: 200-299
  • B1: 300-399
  • B2: 400-499
  • C1: 500-599
  • C2: 600-699

How much does it cost to take the TCF test?

Fees for the TCF test are set by the different test centres. Candidates should expect to pay around 115 Euro’s for the Speaking and Writing tests.  There are discounts available for students and those on unemployment benefits.

The TCF Test results are valid for 2 years. Candidates wishing to repeat the TCF or TCF-DAP must wait 60 days from the date of their earlier sitting.

You will get your results around 15 days after the exam. They are sent to the test centre where you took your exam. Each skill is given a score level on the CEFR and you also get a score for the whole exam. This is an average of all the individual skills scores. After the exam you will be given a preliminary score and receive an official one later on.

It’s a good idea to get to know the format of the TCF test and do practise tests to ensure there will be no surprises. Many students do test preparation courses at a language school or by doing an online course. By doing mock tests regularly before doing the actual one, students will be able to identify their weak areas are and really work on them. There’s no such thing as too much preparation when it comes to the TCF test!

How can GlobalExam help me improve my score for the TCF test?

GlobalExam is an online platform dedicated to test preparation in real exam conditions. Language experts regularly add new content to deliver effective training and provide fresh practice opportunities. The site is very interactive with practise exercises that provide immediate feedback. There are also full mock exams that can be done under timed conditions – just like in the real TCF test.  You can review your results in the statistics tab to check your progress. You can then improve any weak areas with the help of vocabulary and grammar study sheets. So, come and begin your TCF Test training with GlobalExam so that you can improve your score!

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