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7 key information to remember

The DELF (Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française) is a French language exam, which leads to an official diploma recognized by the State and is issued by the French Ministry of National Education. This linguistic test allows foreign or French individuals from a non-French speaking country who do not hold a French secondary or higher education diploma, to attest to their mastery over the language.

DELF can allow you to come and study in France, to support your request and obtain the French nationality or even get expatriated, if you have a plan for your professional life.

DELF is also present for a young audience version for middle and high school students: DELF Scolaire, DELF Junior and DELF Prim.

Over the years, the DELF diploma has achieved significant recognition around the globe. Today, more than 400,000 annual registrations have been registered in more than 1,186 approved examination centers in 174 countries, including France.

This certificate also makes it possible to support the policy aimed at French linguistic and cultural cooperation abroad, but also the development of various organizations and establishments who teach French, around the world.

The French language diploma (DELF), in the same way as the DALF, includes several tests, which take place in the same order. These assess the following language skills:

  • Written and oral comprehension
  • Written and oral expression
  • Interaction (in the form of an oral interview with a jury)

The duration of the tests, the complexity of the concepts in terms of the structure of the language but also oral requirements, on the ability to communicate and easy interaction intensify up to level C2. Therefore it is important to carefully look at the different instructions depending on the level.

A test divided into 6 skill levels

The Diploma of Studies in French Language has the particularity of being available through various tests (like the DELE), each corresponds to a level defined by the CEFR:

  • DELF Level A1 : basic level of French language discovery. The candidate is able to interact in simple everyday situations
  • DELF Level A2 : elementary level of French. The candidate knows how to use polite and everyday life expressions
  • DELF Level B1 : level of independent French. The candidate can give his opinion, understand a discussion and take part in it
  • DELF Level B2 : level of independent French. The candidate knows how to explain his viewpoint and negotiate by giving good arguments. He is comfortable speaking
  • DELF Level C1 and C2: senior level. The candidate is comfortable with French and can communicate clearly. He knows specific vocabulary and idiomatic expressions. Simple and complex structures are well mastered

Consequently, while registering, the candidate chooses the specific level that he wishes to have validated, through the DELF. Note that DELF supports candidates up to the B2 test. C1 and C2 tests are covered by the DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de la Langue Française).

The DELF score is between 0 and 100. It is made up of 4 sections (written comprehension, written expression, oral comprehension and oral expression), each is scored on 25 points. A score lower than 5/25 is eliminatory.

Content of DELF tests

  • Written expression:
    • DELF A1 : the test is divided into 2 exercises and lasts 30 minutes. First, the candidate must fill out a form concerning him. Then, he is asked to write simple sentences on a familiar subject, in 40 words minimum
    • DELF A2 : the test lasts 45 minutes and consists of two written productions. The first is to talk about an event or a personal experience. The second is to write a message from everyday life (intended to inform or thank someone for example)
    • DELF B1 : at this level, only one written production is requested. The candidate must write a text in 45 minutes where he expresses his viewpoint on a general theme
    • DELF B2 : in this test, the candidate is asked to take a position, arguing his viewpoint and giving ideas. This can be in the form of a contribution to a debate or a formal letter
  • Written comprehension:
    • DELF A1 : the candidate must answer comprehension questions on 4 to 5 short documents on subjects concerning daily life. The test lasts 30 minutes
    • DELF A2 : similar exercise at an A1 level, with slightly more specific questions
    • DELF B1 : the test also lasts 30 minutes and includes two documents to analyze, accompanied by questions
    • DELF B2 : in this test, the candidate has two documents to read and analyze. The first is related to France (current events or topical events of France). The second document is an argumentative text with several viewpoints
  • Oral comprehension:
    • DELF A1 : the candidate must listen to and understand short recordings (3 minutes maximum) on daily life topics. The test lasts 20 minutes
    • DELF A2 : 4 audio recordings to understand and lasts 5 minutes maximum. The candidate has 25 minutes to listen to the documents and answer questions
    • DELF B1 : the candidate is asked to answer questions on 3 documents. Recordings last approximately 6 minutes. The test lasts 30 minutes
    • DELF B2 : the candidate must answer questions relating to two types of document: short documents (such as bulletins) listened only once, and longer documents (conference, broadcast, etc.) listened twice. The test lasts 30 minutes
  • Oral expression:
    • DELF A1 : the candidate is with an examiner and the test takes place in 3 stages: a directed interview followed by an exchange of information and to end, a short dialogue. All this is based on simple and familiar subjects. The candidate has 10 minutes to prepare and the oral expression takes a maximum of 7 minutes
    • DELF A2 : This interview has 3 sections: directed interview, monologue then interactive exercise with the examiner. The candidate has 10 minutes to prepare and the oral test takes approximately 8 minutes
    • DELF B1 : the oral takes 15 minutes, with 10 minutes of preparation for the last section. The candidate must first answer a directed interview, then do an exercise with the examiner, to finally express his opinion on a presented document
    • DELF B2 : at this stage, the candidate has 10 minutes of preparation, to present a document to the examiner. He will need to express his viewpoint and defend it. The oral test takes 20 minutes

A “good score” on the DELF must be between 50 and 100, with no difference or disparity for the skills required. Validating the level requires homogeneity between all the tests.

To obtain a good score, the most important is to pass the DELF which corresponds to your level. If you fail to get the minimum score required for the level you have chosen, you won’t be able to validate the one you hoped to pass or the one below. The specificity of the DELF for being divided into several different versions needs to be considered carefully. Thus, it’s essential to know how to assess your own level and not to overestimate it, at the risk of failing.

For example, if you pass the DELF B1 test and obtain 45/100 or 58/100 but do not get a score equal to or greater than 5/25 in all the exercise sections, you won’t obtain the certification B1 or DELF A2 level, even though you have the required skills. The results obtained for the other sections, although greater than 5/25, will not be saved, the next time you pass the B1.

Therefore, if you are hesitating between two levels, it is strongly advised to pass the lowest one, in order to stack all odds by your side and then evolve step by step.

The results are available within approximately 4 weeks after passing the DELF, while the diploma is delivered within 6 to 8 months. This is valid for life.

Unlike many exams for which registration can be done online, DELF does not allow this. To register for the French language diploma, you’re required to go directly to one of the examination centers, provided for this purpose. There are no other ways to register.

There are more than 100 examination centers who are allowed to organize DELF sessions in mainland France and French overseas departments and territories. DELF can be taken in 174 countries around the world and around 1000 examination centers. If you want to find an examination center to pass the DELF, you can consult the CIEP (International Center for Educational Studies) website.

The registration fee is not set but varies depending on the country, city and examination center. If it takes place abroad, the price of DELF depends on the agreements rounded off with the local authorities. In France, its price depends on the rectorate. To find out the price of the exam and what to expect, don't hesitate to contact your examination center, who can provide you with specific information.

There is no preparation method so to speak to ace the DELF. Your score will mainly depend on your spontaneous level of French. This is why your skills should be boosted as much as possible, before the exam. However, like all standardized exams, DELF can be prepared by getting used to the structure of the test and becoming familiar with the instructions. The structure of the test has identifiable patterns that one can learn, to master by practicing mock DELF tests.

To prepare properly for the DELF exam and to stack all odds by your side, it is important to get familiarized with the language but also with the exam. This training can take place through various means: listening to French radio, watching television in French, reading the French press or, if possible, regularly communicating with one or more people whose mother tongue is French. Online resources with typical exercises for training are also available. Just like all standardized exams, rigorous and intensive preparation is required.

Here are the tips from GlobalExam to help you plan an effective preparation for your DELF exam. We advise you to split your training as follows :

  • Active training: this concerns training with standard exercises, using the same instructions and structure as DELF exercises. This type of training improves the grammar and vocabulary concepts, which one often comes across during the exam. The aim is also to get familiarized with the specific format of the written and oral comprehension exercises but also with the oral and written production of the DELF
  • Passive training: The aim of this type of training is to help you progress in French generally speaking, which means to improve the skills required for mastering the language. For this, it’s important to use everyday resources: discussion with French-speaking people, television, press, radio... Passive training is complementary to the first one and allows you to be comfortable with grammar and vocabulary, going beyond DELF-DALF standards

With GlobalExam and its online platform, grant yourself unlimited access to dozens of typical DELF exercises and worksheets, classified by level, as well as free DELF mock tests. This way you will get used to the format of the test and its exercises, which will maximize your chances to succeed