8 Official French proficiency tests and diplomas for you

Table of Contents

 

There are several reasons why you might want to prove your French skills or proficiency level with an official French Diploma. Entering a French university, getting a job in a French-speaking city and advancing in your career, to name a few.

These official French tests can prove how well you can communicate in the language in any given situation and generally measure your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

Why register for a French diploma?

Motivation!

If you're serious about learning French, registering for an official French exam is one of the most effective ways of guaranteeing your success. It gives you a goal to aim towards so that your studies have more direction and focus, and you progress quicker.

Remember that learning without an objective is like getting into a boat without a rudder or destination in mind. Who knows where you could end up or when you’ll get there?

Regardless of the exam you're planning to take, Learn French With Alexa and Kwiziq is designed to help you prepare for any French exam. What’s more, you'll get even more out of Learn French With Alexa and Kwiziq, if you do register for an exam.

Before choosing your French exam

There’s no point setting out on a journey if you don’t know where you’re heading. But it’s also just as important to know where you’re starting out from.

In the same way, you need to know what level you’re at when you begin studying a language if you want to make any sort of meaningful progress. This is why it’s important to take a proficiency test before you start.

In Europe, official tests are based on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), which defines six levels of proficiency: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 or C2.

These placement tests measure your skills and give you an objective view of how good your knowledge is.

What is the CEFR and why are some exams based on it?

The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) was created after more than twenty years of research as a standard way of describing language proficiency so people across Europe would have a common way of indicating someone's language level. It has become the standard throughout Europe and is beginning to be used globally.

Some of the exams we’ll be covering are based on this framework because schools and businesses understand it and it’s applicable to any European language. CEFR makes it possible to compare language skills, tests and exams across languages and national boundaries.

As mentioned above, CEFR describes six levels of language proficiency, divided into three broad divisions:

A: Basic User A1 - Beginner
A2 - Elementary
B: Independent User B1 - Intermediate
B2 - Upper-Intermediate
C: Proficient User C1 - Advanced
C2 - Proficiency

 

If you want to find out what your French CEFR level is, you can sign up to Learn French With Alexa and Kwiziq to take our French placement test. Our quick, comprehensive test lets you know your French level based on the CEFR standard and lets Kwizbot, your A.I. coach, identify what you know and what you need to learn and creates your personalised Studyplan.

This means you can focus on what you need to work on at this point in time. You’re not presented with material that puts you out of your depth, and nor do you have to keep going over the basics if you’ve mastered them already.

Instead, you can challenge yourself with fresh material and work towards speaking fluent French.

8 Official French exams to choose from

Now that you know how a French exam can help you, there are several different official French tests and diplomas to choose from:

 

These are recognised globally but all serve different purposes, so it’s important to choose the right one for your circumstances. The right French official test for you may also depend on your level, what country you are in and why you need the qualification.

The advantage of these tests over school exams is that, as well as being recognised globally (including France and Canada), they reflect the breadth and depth of your French proficiency in practical day-to-day usage, much more effectively.

DILF (Le Diplôme Initial de Langue Française)

The Diplôme Initial de Langue Française (DILF) is a certification that evaluates your French level as a beginner - it corresponds to the A1 level. This certification is actually the first step to getting ready for the DELF and DALF.

The DILF is offered only in French territories and is delivered by the French Ministry of Education.

Learn more about how to pass the DILF exam here.

DELF (Le Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française)

The Diplôme d’Ẹtudes en Langue Française (DELF) is the official diploma for French as a foreign language. If you want an official certificate to demonstrate your proficiency as a French speaker, DELF is the most widely recognised French exam. There are no grades: you either pass or fail and there is a DELF certificate for every CEFR level.

These exams are aimed mainly at adults, who are considering working in a French-speaking country, or who just want something to work towards to help focus their studies.

Learn more about how to pass the DELF exam here.

DALF (Le Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française)

The Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française (DALF) is made up of two independent diplomas, C1 and C2, they cover levels that show an experienced French language knowledge.

Since this exam is more advanced, to pass it you will need to understand French logic. This is why oftentimes it won't be enough to know the French language, but rather immerse yourself in French culture.

Learn more about how to pass the DALF exam here.

AP French (Advanced Placement French Language and Culture)

The Advanced Placement French Language and Culture, also known as AP French, is a course that lets US high school students earn credit for a college-level French class. It culminates in the AP French Exam, which is generally considered equivalent to a college-level French 301 final exam.

Learn more about how to pass the AP French exam here.

TEF (Test d’Evaluation de Français)

The TEF is an internationally recognised qualification, marking proficiency in French, in terms of knowledge and skills. The certificate is awarded by CCIP, the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie de Paris and is valid for five years.

There are five different versions aimed at different people;

  • for foreigners wishing to enter a French undergraduate program   

  • for foreigners wishing to immigrate to France  

  • for those wanting to obtain a resident card from the French government  

  • for those wishing to immigrate to Canada

  • for those wishing to immediate to Québec 

Learn more about how to pass the TEF exam here.

TCF (Le Test de connaissance du français)

If you just need to demonstrate that your French is adequate for a job, for moving to a French-speaking country or for going to university, the Test de Connaissance du français (TCF) is usually sufficient. This is a single exam that gives you a certificate with your graded CEFR level on it. You can't fail; the lowest mark is A1.1.

Learn more about how to pass the TCF exam here.

GCSE French (General Certificate of Secondary Education)

The French GCSE exam is taken in Britain by students usually aged 16. There are different exam boards but each syllabus covers the four disciplines of listening, reading, writing and speaking. You need to show proficiency in each area to do well. You can choose to do either the Foundation Tier (grades 1–5) or the Higher Tier (grades 4–9). The exam will cover three themes in all four question papers:

  • Identity and culture 

  • Local, national, international and global areas of interest

  • Current and future study and employment

Learn more about how to pass the French GCSE exam here.

IB French (International Baccalaureate)

The International Baccalaureate® (IB) programmes are designed to help students develop their critical thinking skills, nurture their curiosity and develop their ability to solve complex problems. The Diploma programme is aimed at students from 16-19 and the Language B course, as it is known, is designed for students who have some previous experience in French.

You’ll need to show how well you can understand spoken and written French, produce the language in your own writing, react in conversation as well as demonstrate an understanding of French culture.

Learn more about how to pass the IB French exam here.

Getting ready for your test

Taking an exam may seem daunting but the best way to prepare for any test is to practise as much as you can.

Familiarise yourself with the structure of the exam and practise across the four skill sets, listening, reading, writing and speaking (not just what you find easiest)! 

Learn French With Alexa and Kwiziq is a great tool to get ready for any type of exam because it helps you to efficiently identify and close gaps in your knowledge. When you know exactly what you need to strengthen to be ready for your exam, you can look through our in-depth lessons, take our quick, challenging kwizzes and complement your practice sessions with our exercises.

Downloading past papers is also a great way to build your confidence!

We’ve gathered some resources to show you how to practise effectively:

I'll be right with you...