The Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF) is a level exam in French as a foreign language designed and issued by France Education International (also called the CIEP, the Centre international d’études pédagogiques), and accredited by the French Ministry of Education. It allows non-French natives to evaluate and have their level of proficiency certified for professional, academic or personal reasons in a simple and quick way.
It works like a photographic snapshot of an individual’s language skills at a given time in his or her life and is valid for 2 years.
The TCF is a multiple-choice test with 76 items that cover reading comprehension, command of grammatical structures and listening comprehension.
It also includes optional tests for written and oral expressions tests.
In general, the TCF grades and ranks candidates at one of the six levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 or C2) on a scale defined by the Council of Europe (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). Therefore, the TCF is impossible to fail. It’s possible to sit the TCF several times (with a thirty day-gap between each exam).
What is the difference between the TCF and the DELF/DALF?
These two evaluation tools are recognised by the National Ministry for Education and must not be confused.
The DELF and DALF lead to diplomas awarded by the State. These diplomas today account for almost 500,000 registrations per year in 170 countries.
The TCF is of a different nature. It does not lead to a diploma, but to a certificate of grading. This involves a simple and immediate validation. This test works as a snapshot of an individual’s linguistic skills at that moment in their life. As such, the TCF certification is only valid for two years, while the DELF and DALF are lifelong diplomas.
There are also specialized TCF exams:
For university entrance, for work, etc.
The test consists of three compulsory tests: a listening comprehension test, a written comprehension test and a test of mastery of language structures.
The test is composed of two optional tests: an oral expression test and a written expression test.
The duration of the test varies according to the number of tests chosen.
TCF-ANF (FRENCH NATIONALITY)
For people who wish to acquire French nationality by naturalization or marriage. The Ministry of the Interior requires a minimum written and oral level of B1 (intermediate).
The test is composed of four compulsory tests (3h30 in total): oral comprehension, written comprehension, oral expression, written expression.
The French authorities also recognise the following certificates and diplomas at a minimum level of B1:
TCF all public (TCF TP) including written and oral expression tests;
TCF for Quebec (including the tests of oral comprehension, written comprehension, oral expression and written expression)
TCF-CRF (RESIDENCE CARD IN FRANCE)
For any foreign person under 65 years of age applying for the first time for the issue of a long-term resident card (valid for 10 years) or a card bearing the words “long-term resident – EU”.
The test consists of four compulsory tests (3h30 in total): oral comprehension, written comprehension, oral expression, written expression.
For any person, whatever their nationality and language of origin (including French and people from French-speaking countries), who wishes to apply for permanent economic immigration or to obtain Canadian citizenship from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
There are no exemptions for TCF Canada.
The test consists of four tests: a listening test, a reading test, a speaking test and a writing test.
The test lasts 3.5 hours.
For any person, regardless of nationality and language of origin, wishing to initiate permanent immigration procedures with the Quebec Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion.
The test may consist of one to four tests: a listening comprehension test, a reading comprehension test, a speaking test and a writing test.
The length of the test varies depending on the number of tests chosen.
Find more information on TCF, please consult France Education International website.