Alliance Française

French Exams: TCF

Enter the TCF (Test de Connaissance du Français)

The Test de connaissance du français, or TCF is a French knowledge test administered by the Centre international d’études pédagogiques, or CIEP, an institution linked to the French Education Ministry.

TCF is a comprehensive language placement test for non-native speakers of French who wish to obtain a quick, simple, effective and precise evaluation of their general language skills for professional or personal reasons. It follows the six-level proficiency scale of the Council of Europe.

Unlike the Diplôme d’études en langue française (DELF) or the Diplôme approfondi de langue française (DALF), the TCF leads to a certificate, not a diploma, meaning that its validity is temporary. Test results are valid for 2 years only.

Furthermore, the DELF/DALF focus on listening, reading, writing and speaking, whereas the TCF tests listening, language structures and reading, with writing and speaking as optional components, as explained below.

Why Take the TCF?

  • It lets you know your strengths and weaknesses.
    By taking the TCF, you’ll see where your strengths lie and where you need more work, since each section tests a different skill. When you take it for the first time, you may realize that you understand spoken French pretty well, but that you may need to improve your knowledge of French grammar, giving you direction for furthering your studies.
  • Employers may require it.
    If applying for a job that includes speaking French—say translation, international sales, NGO, the list goes on—your employer may want to confirm the skills you claim to have on your resume. 
  • The TCF may be needed to study at Francophone universities.
    Many universities use the TCF to verify that applicants have sufficient language skills to pursue their studies. Usually, the minimum accepted score is in the “intermediate” range, which, if you speak French well enough to consider studying in a French-speaking country, should be completely attainable.
  • Governments use it when screening potential immigrants.
    In Quebec, potential immigrants can take the Quebec version of the TCF to prove that they speak French. Similarly, anyone interested in becoming a naturalized French citizen can validate their skills with the TCF – ANF (TCF pour l’accès à la nationalité française).

What Is Tested and How to Study

The exact sections on the test will vary according to which version you take and what optional sections you might choose, but the main version of the TCF includes three required subjects: listening, proficiency in language structures and reading.

  • Listening
    Oral comprehension is broken up into several sub-sections.
    Section 1 tests understanding of how audio clips relate to a given image.
    Section 2 tests understanding of “minimal exchanges related to real life situations.”
    In Section 3, your understanding of small conversations between Francophones is tested.
    Finally, in section 4, a clip along the lines of a speech or a radio news report is played—and you answer one or more questions about its content.

    How to study for this part of the test: Alliance Française de Charlotte proposes some audio clips to practice the listening comprehension during regular sessions.
    TCF audio clips can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Also, CIEP offers several actual practice questions to give you an idea of how this part of the test is structured.
     
  • Proficiency in language structures
    This section tests your knowledge of French grammar and vocabulary. Usually these questions take the form of completing sentences with the appropriate word or phrase. Areas that may be tested include proper conjugation, use of the subjunctive, spelling, etc. This section can be tricky because the multiple choice questions may have two very plausible-seeming possibilities.

    How to study for this part of the test: Alliance Française de Charlotte proposes sessions of grammar classes where you will use practice problems and additional resources to improve the language structure.
    Again, there are questions on the CIEP official site you can use to practice.
     
  • Reading
    Possibly less stressful than oral comprehension, the reading comprehension section tests how well you read French. Several excerpts are presented, from single sentences to entire essays with multiple choice questions concerning either their subject or specific information found in the passage.
    Questions you may encounter include newspaper clippings, speeches, letters between family members, product manuals, tourist brochures and public announcements. Although the time is limited, you can reread the passages. More than one question may be posed depending on the length of the excerpt.

    How to study for this part of the test: Alliance Française de Charlotte proposes books in their own Library that you can take or better gives you access to the Culturethèque - an e-library that have magazines, books, newspapers and etc. The TCF is timed (29 questions in 45 minutes for the reading section), however, and you’ll only have a small amount of time (a little over a minute) you can spend on each question.
    Also, TV5Monde and RFI offer their own TCF practice problems.
     
  • Optional subjects
    Two optional subjects are also given, and they may be required depending on your reason for taking the TCF. These are Speaking and Writing, where you’re judged on your active language skills—meaning your ability to speak and write French, respectively.

    - Speaking
    The Speaking section takes the form of a face-to- face recorded interview with an examiner. The examiner can ask you questions about almost anything. Some questions may be general, such as “Tell me about yourself,” and others more specific, like “I run a charitable organization. Ask me questions about how it’s run.”

    How to study for this part of the test: Alliance Française de Charlotte proposes sessions of conversations of 90 minutes once a week. AFC offers also every month some “café rencontre” or some events to help improve your speaking expression in a friendly and unofficial environment.

    - Writing
    The second optional section is Writing where you’re asked to write about three scenarios, such as “a hypothetical vacation you just took.” You’ll have 60 minutes to complete the three scenarios, and your writing will be sent to CIEP headquarters for grading.

    How to study for this part of the test: The best way to practice for this is to just start writing. The prompts will ask you to write in different forms such as formal essays, blog posts, news articles, etc. Each format has a different model, so you can’t, for example, write a blog post as a letter to your doctor!
    Alliance Française de Charlotte proposes that you write for different audiences, that you keep a journal for yourself, find pen pals, join a forum for Francophones or even start a blog in French. AFC would be able to help, supervise and encourage your writing.

What test?

Alliance Française offers: 

  • TCF TP (Tout Public)
    This is the basic TCF including the three required sections destined for people who want to validate their French knowledge for personal or professional reasons.
     
  • TCF ANF (Accès à la Nationalité Française)
    Since 2012, this version of the TCF is one of the accepted ways of meeting the requirements for the minimum level of French required for citizenship, B1. 
     
  • TCF Quebec
    This version of the test is available for anyone wishing to obtain a visa for permanent residence in Quebec who doesn’t have other qualifications. 
     
  • TCF DAP
    This is a version of the test for potential first-year undergraduates at French universities who aren’t qualified by some other means.

Please be aware that we cannot advise you about your exam choice.
Please visit the CIEP Website to find information about each test.

Preparing for the TCF at Alliance Française de Charlotte

Although no class specifically prepares for the TCF, all the courses offer at the Alliance Française de Charlotte will help your comprehension and conversation skills. Please contact us if you need advice on the course(s) you may need.

Or practice online at http://tcf.didierfle.com
More information and sample tests are available on the CIEP website.