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DALF is an official certification awarded by the French Ministry of Education to prove French-language competency for individuals from outside of France.

The two DALF tests are independent of each other and certify the language levels C1 and C2, the two highest levels.

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DALF® :

key information to remember

The DELF (Diplôme d'Etudes en Langue Française) and DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française) are official certifications awarded by the French Ministry of Education to prove French-language competency for individuals from outside of France. While the four DELF diplomas certify levels A1-B2, the two DALF tests are independent of each other and certify the language levels C1 and C2, the two highest levels according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL)

The DALF examinations are offered in over 1,000 authorized testing centers in 173 countries, including France.

Let’s take a look at what the DALF tests are, how they are structured and scored, and we’ll give you our best tips on how to prepare for a winning score on your DALF the first time!

The DELF and DALF diplomas are independent, so you can take whichever examination you choose. This also means you can also register to take the examinations for several diplomas at the same examination session.

These diplomas prove your skills in French for personal reasons, for scholars, for university admittance, or for professional purposes.

Most French universities require you to attain level B2 or C1 to enroll, while very few programs absolutely require a level C2. However, note that both DALF certifications are valid for life, so you should aim to reach the highest level possible to certify your French skills. Earning these certificates will exempt you from having to take separate language exams for admission into French schools, for instance, so be sure you aim high!

DALF C1

If you want to prove that you have a C1 level in French, this means that you’re independent in the language. You can express yourself fluently and spontaneously orally and in writing. You should have an extensive vocabulary and can choose the appropriate expressions to introduce your speech.  You can produce a clear, well-structured discourse without hesitating and demonstrate that you know how to use rhetorical structures.

All four language skills are tested separately in the DALF C1 as shown in this table:

DALF test level: C1

Duration

Max. score

Listening
Multiple-choice questions on audio recordings:

  • One long recording (interview, class, conference, etc.) lasting about 8 minutes (played twice)
  • Several short recordings (radio newsflashes, editorials, advertisements, etc.) (played once).

Duration of recordings in total: 10 mins

Approximately
40 minutes

25

Reading
Multiple-choice questions on an expository test (literature or news article) of approximately 1,500 to 2,000 words in length.

50 minutes

25

Writing
Two parts in this task:

  • Summarize a collection of written documents of a total of approximately 1,000 words
  • Write an opinion essay with supporting arguments on the contents of the documents

You may choose between two main fields of interest: Humanities/Social Studies or Science

2:30

25

Speaking
Spoken presentation summarizing the collection of printed documents plus an unprepared (improvised) discussion with the panel of examiners.

Choose between two fields: Humanities/Social Studies or Science

30 minutes with 1 hour of preparation

25

The total exam lasts 4 hours. You must earn at least 50 out of the total 100 points of the exam to be awarded the DALF C1, and you must not have less than 5/25 on any of the four skill areas.

DALF C2

French speakers at level C2 have proficiency that demonstrates accuracy, relevance, and a high degree of fluency. C2 candidates are capable of using the language for academic and advanced-level purposes.

Unlike the C1 level, the DALF C2 test combines the Listening & Speaking and Reading & Writing sections together as shown in this table:

DALF test level: C2

Duration

Max. score

Listening & Speaking
Three parts in this task:

  • Summarize the contents of a recording (played twice)
  • Personal opinion based on the issue presented in the recording
  • Unprepared (improvised) debate with the panel of examiners

Important: As of 2020, candidates are no longer required to choose a field of specialty/interest; subjects are of general interest.

30 minutes with 1 hour of preparation

50

Reading & Writing
Writing a structured text (in the form of an article, editorial, report, speech, etc.) based on 7-10 printed documents of about 2,000 words in total.

Important: As of 2020, candidates are no longer required to choose a field of specialty/interest; subjects are of general interest.

3:30

50

The entire examination lasts 4 hours. You must earn at least 50 out of the total 100 points to be awarded the DALF C2, and you must not have less than 25/50 on each of the two sections.

You’ll need to register to sit the DALF tests directly with the approved examination centers in France or outside of France. Most centers are in major universities and language schools, and many are located at Alliance Française locations.

Once you select a testing center, choose a date to sit the test as early as possible since most testing centers only offer the DALF tests a few times a year and demand may be high with limited seats available. Enter your personal information and pay the fee online. You’ll immediately receive a confirmation email from the testing center and a receipt of payment. Four days later, you’ll get a follow-up email with the exact times of the Speaking & Listening and Reading & Writing portions of the test and a list of items to bring with you.

Outside France, the registration fee for each diploma is set by the Department for Cooperation and Cultural Affairs (SCAC) of the French Embassy. In France, it is set by the local education offices. For information on fees, contact the examination center where you would like to take your examination or examinations.

While fees may vary depending on the center and country, plan on paying around €250 to sit the examination. This may seem to be a lot of money, but keep in mind that the results of the test are valid for life, so you’ll never need to recertify if you pass. Consider it to be an investment in your future!

Of course, if you’re attempting to take the DALF C1 or C2 tests, you should already have an advanced level of French. However, regardless of your current French level, if you aren’t familiar with the testing format or types of questions to expect, you may run into problems on the day of the test. Even if you feel you speak French “perfectly” already, complete preparation for the test is a crucial step to earn your certification!

You’ll certainly want to practice your on-the-spot speaking skills, familiarize yourself with the test format, and take one or two practice exams.

If you have less experience in French or simply feel less confident in your French abilities, we recommend starting your preparation process at least two weeks before the test date. Many of the testing centers also offer preparation courses. You may also want to purchase printed books and recorded materials and to study and brush up on your test-taking skills. And of course, there are countless online courses and videos you can choose from. 

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, in-person courses are great for motivation, but they may be difficult to fit into your schedule. Physical books and recordings are very thorough but can be expensive. You should choose the right method for you and your schedule, but above all, be sure to start practicing at least two weeks before your DALF test is scheduled.

Try to set aside at least one hour per day during the two weeks leading up to the test to revise for the DALF test. Start by listening to sample recordings and watch videos available online of test-takers giving their DALF Spoken presentations. You can even review their scores to see how individuals perform in real testing conditions.

You may notice that examinees who rely too much on their notes or do not appear to have confident body language may be penalized, compared with those who make eye contact and maintain a cheerful tone of voice. These are all important things to rehearse as you revise for your test.

In the following days, don’t forget to review what you’ve learned from listening to the recordings and watching the videos of past tests. Practice taking notes on what you hear in real-time and rehearse giving summaries of about 5 to 10 minutes, then 10-minute speeches. You could practice by recording yourself in video or audio, or better yet, revise with a friend. This is a great way to pinpoint where your strong and weak areas are, for instance, rambling too much or not including enough supporting examples to fit within the time limit.

Don’t neglect to watch any of the countless authentic French-language videos on sites such as YouTube or DailyMotion. You can choose any subject you’re interested in, but the important thing is to train your listening and note-taking skills. Remember, DALF topics may deal with any general-interest topic, so there’s no limit to the kinds of videos you should focus on!

Finally, to prepare for the two Reading and Writing portions of the DALF tests (or the single Reading & Writing portion of the DALF C2 test), you may not need to spend the full 3-and-a-half hours to simulate the test. Since your French level should already be quite advanced and supposing you already have considerable experience in academic and formal writing, you may find it useful to allow yourself 1 hour or so to review past test topics and write your outline. This will help you get prepared to create a well-structured essay.

You should find that after practicing two sample questions from past DALF tests, you will feel confident enough to speak and write on almost any topic in French!

GlobalExam is an online platform dedicated to providing thorough, high-quality training for those wishing to earn their DALF certificate.

On the GlobalExam platform, you’ll have the option between two different preparation modes:

Training

We’ll provide lots of targeted exercises to train in one specific skill, depending on your individual needs. This is a great way to fine-tune your language and test-taking skills to reach your target DALF score the first time.

Examination

The Examination mode puts you in actual test-taking conditions. The exercises are timed just like the real test, so you can get an accurate idea of the pressures of each section of the test. Nothing beats experiencing a full run-through of a practice test!

GlobalExam online solution

Your GlobalExam profile also gives you access to free tests online, type corrections and personal statistics. With the personalized progress monitor, you can track your progress in real-time: enter your target score and watch your progress rise. This is a good way to pinpoint your strengths and weaker areas so you can focus your revision efficiently. You can even create your own revision schedule to keep yourself motivated and on track. It’s like having a virtual private French coach!

Finally, we also provide targeted grammar and vocabulary sheets ready to use to boost your French language skills overall. This is great for building up your vocabulary to the expectations and demands of high-level DALF certification.

Remember that your best tool to prepare for the DALF exams is an in-depth, complete revision program developed by those who know the test perfectly. Your main goal should be to develop your confidence in speaking and writing, and to become familiar with the DALF format to give your examiners what they’re looking for. Two weeks should be enough for you to train for the DALF and prevent any surprises on the big day. 

Let GlobalExam help you on your way to DALF success!