The TCF exam is an exam for students who are studying French. It is run by the CIEP (Centre international d’études pédagogiques) in conjunction with the French Ministry of Education. It can be used for employment applications, for immigration purposes or for student who want to assess their level of French.

The Paris Institute of Political Studies in France uses TCF CEFR Common European Framework of Reference for Languages level C1 as the main language requirement for testing the skills of French language students to follow academic discussions and conduct research using the French language.

The test is made up of different sections. The reading, listening and language structures sections are mandatory while the writing and speaking sections are optional.

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What is the format of the reading test?

The reading comprehension section assesses how well a student can read French texts. There are different types of text. There could be single sentences, newspaper articles, speeches, letters, brochures or essays. The questions are multiple choice questions related to specific details or the general meaning. There could be a short text with four possible answers and students need to select the correct one. This section takes 45 minutes and has 29 questions.


What does the listening section involve?

This listening test is split into four sections. Section 1 tests student’s understanding of how audio clips relate to an image. Section 2 tests understanding of small exchanges that happen in real life situations.  Section 3 consists of small conversations between French speakers. The final section 4 is usually a speech or a news report and candidates need to answer questions related to it. The speakers might have different accents and students have to listen carefully because they can only hear the recording once. The listening section lasts 25 minutes and includes 29 questions.

What about the proficiency in language structures part?

This part consists of 18 questions and takes 15 minutes. The questions focus on the ability of candidates to understand the structure of the language, from basic to more complex communicative situations by identifying errors, matching equivalent expressions or grammatical terms and choosing the correct options relating to common social interactions.

What are the optional sections?

Still asking yourself which version of the TCF should you choose?

The optional sections are Spoken Expression and Written Expression sections. The spoken expression examination is a one-to-one interview with the examiner and takes 15 minutes in total. You might be speaking about a variety of topics such as giving travel advice or asking questions about different activities. You might have to ask questions in order to make a decision related to sports, pets, work or travel. 

The writing section includes exercises that get progressively more difficult and candidates need to write about three different scenarios. They have to write personal letters, write about opinions or summarise the main opinions in a text.

What are the scores for the levels of the TCF test?

So, how does the TCF scoring system work? TCF scores are ranked on 6 levels, ranging from A1 to C2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages so A1 level is for scores starting at 100-199 and C2 is for scores of 600-699.

In the speaking section if you don’t understand the examiner’s instructions make sure you ask for clarification. Try to talk about real experiences as you will be able to speak about them more fluently. Don’t worry if the examiner interrupts you at any time – they are just trying to keep to the correct timing for the test.

For the reading test, try not to hesitate too long but if you can’t think of anything, move on to the next question. At the same time, try to plan your answer a little rather than just writing everything down.  Try to understand the overall meaning when you’re listening or when you’re reading too. You might understand more than you think.

How much does the TCF test cost?

Fees are set by test centres. Candidates will need to pay in the region of 200 Euro’s for the mandatory sections and the same again for the optional parts.  There are discounts available for students and those on income support benefits.

The TCF exam results are valid for 2 years. Candidates can repeat the TCF test but need to wait 2 months from the date of their last test.

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.

How should I study for the TCF Test?

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 major shocks on the day of the test.  By doing mock tests regularly before doing the actual one, students will be able to improve their confidence and identify any weak areas so that they can work on them. Preparation is vital when it comes to the TCF test!

How can GlobalExam help me in my studies?

GlobalExam is an online platform dedicated to test preparation in real exam conditions. Language experts regularly add new content to 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 french vocabulary worksheets and examples or french grammar study sheets. Sign up for a free trial version today so you can check out the quality of the materials before getting one of the premium plans.

Premium plans offer the following content and services:

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  • 15 training hours
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Premium plan prices are as listed below:

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If you are still wondering how to register to the TCF test, we also have written a dedicated article on this topic.

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