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7 key information to remember

The TCF (French knowledge test) is a standardized language exam, designed to assess the level and skills of candidates in French. It is aimed at individuals whose mother tongue is not French, and mainly for people who do not live in France. The TCF is administered by the CIEP (Centre International d’Etudes Pédagogiques), which reports directly to the French Ministries of National Education, Higher Education and Research. In France, this test has recently turned into a tool which is reliable and precise, mainly used by companies and universities in order to know the French level for foreign applicants. After passing the test, candidates who succeed at the exam receive a certificate level which is valid for 2 years. Unlike the DELF, the TCF does not issue a language diploma but a temporary certification for the linguistic abilities of a candidate, at a time T.

There are several reasons why you should pass the TCF. This test has the peculiarity of being available in several versions, depending on the various needs and target audiences:

  • TCF general public is aimed at all non-French-speaking individuals, regardless of their nationality and who wish to certify their French level
  • TCF ANF (Access French Nationality) is aimed, as its name suggests, for people who need to have a certain language level validated, to carry out their immigration procedure
  • TCF DAP (Request for prior admission) is aimed at foreign students who to certify their French level, in order to study in higher establishments in the country
  • TCF Quebec is aimed at individuals who need to validate their French level, as part of the procedures for obtaining the Quebec selection certificate (CSQ) leading to a permanent visa

The TCF stands out as it is made up of 3 mandatory parts and 2 complementary parts. The test lasts 2h35 and the questions are in the form of multiple choices. The difficulty increases as the exam evolves, the initial questions are A1 level and then move on to C1 level.

The three mandatory parts of the TCF are:

  • Oral comprehension: this section is used to assess the candidate's ability to understand spoken French. The candidate listens to audio recordings of conversations in daily life contexts. He must then answer 29 questions in the form of multiple choice questions. This section lasts 25 minutes and is itself divided into 4 parts:

    • part 1: understanding statements with an image, photo or drawing medium representing scenes from everyday life
    • part 2: understanding minimal exchanges corresponding to real-life situations
    • part 3: understanding mini-conversations (two or three exchanges)
    • part 4: understanding presentations and radio documents

    To give you a clear idea, here are some examples of questions that can be asked in the oral comprehension part of the TCF:

    Example 1 (Part 2):

    Choose the correct answer to the question:

    • Je vais voir un film avec des amis
    • Parce que je ne peux pas
    • Oui, avec plaisir !
    • Au restaurant

    Right Answer: C

    Example 2 (Part 3):

    You hear the following conversation:

    “Man – Well, that was a long meeting. I didn’t realise he could talk so much!
    Woman – It was long, wasn’t it, about an hour and a half I think.
    Man – And what have we achieved? What a waste of time!
    Woman – Well, now we all know about the new projects, so there’ll be less confusion.
    Man – True.
    Woman - … and we know about the team changes. All in all, I thought it was useful.
    Man – I suppose so.
    Woman – And now I’m ready for a coffee.”

    Question :

    Quelle est la situation

    • La personne malade va appeler le médecin
    • La personne malade va prendre un médicament
    • La personne malade va mieux
    • La personne malade ne veut rien faire

    Right Answer: A

  • Mastering the structure of the language: in this part, the candidate is assessed on his syntactic abilities through questions relating to grammar, formulation and vocabulary. Overall, the test lasts 15 minutes and includes 18 questions in the form of multiple choice questions


    Question #1

    Attention, si tu n’étudies pas tu __________ de mauvaises notes.

    • a
    • auras
    • as
    • avais

    Right answer: B

    Question #2

    Bonjour, je suis bien _____________ le docteur Briançon ?

    • dans
    • pour
    • chez
    • avec

    Right answer: C

  • Written comprehension: The aim of this part is to assess the candidate’s ability to understand familiar names, very simple words and sentences, but also short articles and literary and daily life texts. This means reading and understanding various texts from the French speaking culture, and then answering 29 questions in the form of a multiple choice questions. This test lasts 45 minutes.


    Question #1

    • You read the following text: ”Olivier, n’oublie pas d’envoyer la présentation à Charles pour la réunion de demain avant ce soir ! Bon courage, Paul.”

      Question : Pourquoi Paul laisse ce message ?

      • Pour changer la date de la réunion
      • Pour inviter Olivier à une soirée
      • Pour faire un rappel
      • Pour donner un ordre

      Right answer: C

    • You read:

      “Pour acheter votre titre de transport : - choisissez votre destination - appuyer sur “valider” - payez - attendez votre reçu”

      Question : Pourquoi sont ces instructions ?

      • Pour acheter un voyage organisé
      • Pour acheter un billet de transport
      • Pour réserver un guide touristique
      • Pour demander une brochure

      Right answer: C

      As for the 2 additional parts of the test :

      • Oral expression: this is a maximum 12-minute face-to-face interview with an examiner. This section itself is divided into 3 separate tasks:
        • First task: a directed interview which lasts 2 minutes (without preparation). The candidate is rated on his ability to spontaneously exchange in French with a person he does not know
        • Second task: an interaction which lasts 5 minute and a half with the examiner (with 2 minutes of preparation). The candidate is assessed on his ability to obtain information in a daily life situation
        • Third task: expressing viewpoint without preparation (4 ½ minutes oral). The candidate must demonstrate the ability to speak spontaneously, fluently and in a convincing manner
      • Written expression: this test lasts 60 minutes and is divided into 3 tasks
        • Task 1 : description, story or explanation written in 60 to 120 words
        • Task 2 : writing an article, a letter or a note in the form of an experience report or a story. 120 to 150 words expected
        • Task 3 : writing two small comparative texts of 90 words maximum, explaining two viewpoints related to a fact of society

The French Knowledge Test (TCF) is scored out of 699. The final grade obtained corresponds to the average of the scores obtained in each part. These are also scored on 699.

You can't really fail the TCF. This test is designed to assess the linguistic level of the candidate at the time of taking the exam. The number of points obtained then equals a certain level of skill. Depending on the goal, the number of points obtained at the TCF must be more or less significant.

Here are the equivalences between TCF scores and levels established by CECRL :

  • 100 to 199 points : A1 level (beginner)
  • 200 to 299 points : A2 level (elementary)
  • 300 to 399 points : B1 level (intermediate)
  • 400 to 499 points : B2 level (advanced intermediate)
  • 500 to 599 points : C1 level (upper)
  • 600 to 699 points : C2 level (upper advanced)

The objective of the French Knowledge Test (TCF) is to assess your skills at a time "t". Therefore, there is no bad or good result. It all depends on the goal you have set for yourself.

For example, if you wish to study in French universities or schools, the score requested is at least 400, generally speaking. This score corresponds to the B2 equivalence of the CEFR. If you take the TCF ANF to obtain the French nationality, you will then be asked for a B1 level in oral.

After passing your exam, a certificate will then be issued to certify your level and will be valid for 2 years.

To get a good TCF score, it’s important to prepare several weeks in advance. The goal is not only to revise your grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation in French, but also to get familiarized with the TCF format, its instructions and standard exercises while learning to manage your time. A good preparation phase will allow you to be more efficient and less stressed on D-Day.

To register for the TCF, you need to contact the closest approved examination center . You need to register for one of their future sessions. You will find the list of all the approved centers for the TCF on the CIEP website. In France, there is at least one examination center per department (mainly in Lille, Marseille, Lyon, Paris, Montpellier, etc.). You can also pass the TCF from Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco or Canada.

Generally speaking, all language exams have special features and must be prepared sincerely in advance. It goes without saying, your French level when you take the test will be a determining criterion for your success. However, be careful, don't rest on your laurels.

Like many language tests, the TCF exam has its own test format, each exercise in each section needs to be finished in a limited time. If you do not train properly and follow the instructions to get familiarized with the test rules, you may fail on the day of the exam. tHis could be a shame since these instructions are known and therefore one can prepare well!

GlobalExam is the first 100% e-learning platform, which is dedicated to language testing. In its training formula, it offers two types of TCF preparations, in order to allow a global and complete preparation for the test. This preparation method includes :

  • A “training mode” (or training mode) including standard exercises in keeping with all sections of the TCF test.
  • A “exam mode” (or Exam mode) with mock TCF topics which will allow you to prepare for the test in real exam conditions.

It should be noted that GlobalExam only offers training for the common core of the French Knowledge Test (i.e the 3 compulsory parts).

All the content available on our platform is created by a team of competent teachers. This quality content aims at making you understand the structure of the exercises properly, not to mention the exam in general. Dueto GlobalExam, you can also benefit from the answers for all the exercises and follow your progress statistics. These last elements are important tools to progress quickly and properly, during your preparation with GlobalExam

To succeed at the test and get to know it in its entirety, one of the best things to do in addition to the exercises and mock topics is to use our ready-made revision sheets. These sheets present the test and the various levels of TCF in detail. Due to these revision sheets, you will understand the logic of the test and know what to expect on the D-Day. You will be able to anticipate certain answers, avoid traps and save time. The more you become familiar with the TCF test, the more effective your training and coaching will be and definitely reap rewards.

For each level of the TCF, you have a list of vocabulary which you must absolutely know. Find these vocabulary lists on GlobalExam, in your study-sheets which are classified by level.