Destinations Magazine

Do I Have to Take the TCF?

By Allisonlounes @parisunraveled

If you want to enroll in a master’s program in a French university, you have to have at least a B2 level of French, or an intermediate level on the European scale.

If you’ve taken any coursework in French and done relatively well, and if you can have basic conversations and express simple ideas in French, you should have the minimum level with no problem.

You just need to get a certification proving that you’re good enough at French to be able to succeed in your university classes.

What is a B2 Level of French?

B2 is the level you must reach on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This is a set of guidelines that was standardized across the European Union and adopted in 1996 for all European languages. Universities throughout the EU use it as a reference point for ensuring that students are competent enough to study abroad in other countries.

A B2 level is considered “upper intermediate” on this scale, and generally corresponds to about 500-600 hours of study. If you’ve taken 4 semesters of introductory French (or passed the Advanced Placement exam in French or French Literature), plus a few writing, grammar, or literature classes iFrench in university, you should reach this level.

Here’s what someone with a B2 level should be able to do: (from Wikipedia)

* Understand the main ideas in a complex text
* Communicate with a Native speaker with a bit of fluency, not perfect speech but without strain
* Produce a clear txt on a variety of topics and give an opinion on a topic.
See? Not so bad. You can do that.

The are three different French language exams you can take to show you have this level.

1) The DELF and DALF

The DELF is the “Diplôme d’Études en Langue Française,” and it’s one in a series of tests that you can take to get a French certification. This test, like its sister test, the DALF, or “Diplôme Approfondi en Langue Française,” can be used for admission to French universities, or to get hired by French compani.

These two tests correspond to the final exams for French classes given at many Alliance Française centers around the world. If you’re taking classes at an AF center, it makes sense for you to take one of these exams, as they corresponds to the level you’ve been preparing for.

The DILF (Diplôme Initiale en Langue Française), DELF, and DALF are generally given in a series, and you need to sign up for the test that corresponds to the level you think you have.

But be careful: if you take the DALF level C2 and DON’T meet the level’s minimum requirements, it’s not like they tell you you’r a C1 level – you actually fail the test. So unless the DELF and DALF are the only tsts being offered in your area – or you’re absolutely sure of what your French level is – be wary of taking this test. At the very least, take 1 level below what you think your actual level is. As long as you meet the B2 minimum, you’ll still be accepted into a French university.

You can try out some sample exercises online to see which level you should take.

2) The TCF (Test des Connaissances du Français)

The Test des Connaissance du Français, or TCF, is the one you take if you have no idea what your level of French is and you want to find out. It’s the one you should take if you’ve done coursework in French in a university and think you have a rather advanced level.

The TCF has a variety of exercises, at all different levels. It takes about 2 hours to complete, and once the results are it, this test will tell you what your level is on a variety of different skills: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, grammar, and, if you take the optional tests, writing and speaking.

Where can I take these exams?

The DELF, DALF, and TCF are each given several times per year in testing centers around the United States.

Exam results take about 3 weeks to come in. This means that if you’re not a European Union citizen and need to get a visa during the summer, you’ll need to take them by the end of May so you can send in your results with your university application in mid-June. If you don’t need to get a visa (EU citizen), you can take them later and apply to universities directly in September upon arrival in France. Of course, if you take the exam earlier, it can be helpful to mention your results in emails to potential professors.

Paris Unrsveled has compiled a complete list of where the exams are being offered in 2013. Check out the list here to find the city and test center nearest you.

Are you thinking about doing a master’s degree in France? Email us today for a free consultation and we’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to come to Paris next year.

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