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TCF - Integration, Residence and Nationality

The TCF IRN is aimed at all foreign nationals over 16 years old who want to confirm their level of French in order to:

  • apply for French nationality;
  • apply for a long-term residence permit;
  • validate A1 level as part of the OFII citizenship process.
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General information

The TCF Integration, Residence and Nationality (TCF IRN) meets the provisions:

- of decree no. 2016-1456 of 28 October 2016 and of the order of 21 February 2018 of the Ministry of the Interior on verifying the knowledge of French for those applying for a long-term residence permit;

- of decree of 30 December 2019 of the Ministry of the Interior on verifying the knowledge of French for those applying for French nationality.

The TCF IRN can also be used to validate A1 level (OFII citizenship process).

About the tests

The TCF IRN is made up of 4 mandatory tests that assess general French language skills:

  1. Listening comprehension: Exam room test: 20 multiple choice questions (4 possible answers, only 1 correct answer)
  2. Reading comprehension: Exam room test: 20 multiple choice questions (4 possible answers, only 1 correct answer)
  3. Written skills: Exam room test: 3 exercises
  4. Verbal skills: Individual test one-on-one with an examiner: 3 exercises

The TCF IRN assesses only linguistic skills and not knowledge of French history, culture and society.

The TCF IRN has a total duration of 1 hour 15 minutes:

  • Listening comprehension: 15 minutes;
  • Reading comprehension: 20 minutes;
  • Written skills: 30 minutes;
  • Verbal skills: 10 minutes.
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Case for exemption

Cases for exemption for people applying for French naturalisation are given in the circular of 26 February 2018 (NOR: INTV1804752J). In compliance with this text, an exemption for a language test can be granted by the prefecture for:

  • those who hold an official diploma. The minimum level required is level 3 of the national classification of education levels (secondary school certificate (Brevet des collèges), CAP vocational qualification). However, they should ensure that their diploma will be accepted by checking with the prefecture authorities;
  • those who have a French-language diploma with a minimum B1 level (DELF, DU, DCL);
  • those with a disability or a chronic health condition (evidence must be presented to the prefecture). If this is the case, they can be granted an exemption on presentation of a required medical certificate (cf. order INTV2009412A of 17 July 2020) issued by their general practitioner. This certificate can be used to justify an exemption from a test or adjustments for tests. If the recommended adjustments cannot be implemented, the centre will issue to the candidate a confirmation of this that can be attached to the medical certificate in order to receive an exemption.
  • There is NO age limit for naturalisation applications.

Cases for exemption for people applying for a residence permit are given in the circular of 26 February 2018 (NOR: INTV1804752J). In compliance with this text, an exemption for a language test can be granted by the prefecture for:

  • those who hold an official diploma. The minimum level required is level 3 of the national classification of education levels (secondary school certificate (Brevet des collèges), CAP vocational qualification). However, they should ensure that their diploma will be accepted by checking with the prefecture authorities;
  • those who have a French-language diploma with a minimum A2 level (DELF, DU, DCL);
  • those above 65 years old;
  • those with a disability or a chronic health condition (evidence must be presented to the prefecture). If this is the case, they can be granted an exemption on presentation of a required medical certificate (cf. order INTV2009412A of 17 July 2020) issued by their general practitioner. This certificate can be used to justify an exemption from a test or adjustments for tests. If the recommended adjustments cannot be implemented, the centre will issue to the candidate a confirmation of this that can be attached to the medical certificate in order to receive an exemption.

If you think that you should receive an exemption, please contact the prefecture services directly. Only the prefecture services are authorised to grant an exemption.

Those applying to renew a residence permit do not need to present a language level certificate.

As candidates who are illiterate are not mentioned in the cases for exemption given in the circular of 26 February 2018 (NOR: INTV1804752J), they must sit a language level test in order to present an application that complies with the requirements of the decree, meaning that it contains an official certificate after sitting a test.

What is assessed in the different tests?

  • These questions test the ability to understand spoken French, such as:
  • colloquial words and common expressions in everyday situations involving communication (conversations, interviews, phone calls, etc.); 
  • the main information in messages and simple, clear announcements; 
  • information on people, facts or events in radio or television broadcasts on current events or on personal and professional subjects; 
  • presentations on tangible or abstract subjects; 
  • any type of discourse given at an ordinary pace of delivery. 

 

This test is made up of multiple choice questions (MCQ). Each question has 4 possible answers (A, B, C, D), but only one is correct.

The tests are given in a sequence of increasing difficulty.

NB! Each recording is only played once. The question is given after listening to the audio file.

These questions test the ability to understand written French, such as:

  • colloquial nouns, very simple words and phrases used in situations involving communication (formal or informal messages and correspondence);
  • information in common documents (classified adverts, brochures, menus and times, etc.);
  • information on people, facts or events (personal correspondence);
  • texts in informal language concerning everyday or work life;
  • articles and reports in which the authors take a stance on specific or abstract subjects;
  • long and complex factual or literary texts, specialist articles;
  • abstract or complex texts or extracts from books, specialist articles.

This test is made up of multiple choice questions (MCQ). Each question has 4 possible answers (A, B, C, D), but only one is correct.

The tests are given in a sequence of increasing difficulty.

This test evaluates the candidate’s ability to express themselves verbally in French and is made up of 3 tasks:

  • Task 1 – Structured interview no preparation (3 minutes): the candidate should demonstrate their ability to converse with a person they do not know (the assessor).
  • Task 2 – Exercise in interaction no preparation (3.5 minutes): the candidate should demonstrate their ability to obtain information in a common everyday situation. The positions of the interlocutor and candidate will be outlined in the instructions.
  • Task 3 – Expressing a point of view no preparation (3.5 minutes): the candidate should demonstrate their ability to speak spontaneously, continuously and in a convincing manner when responding to a question chosen by the assessor.

In this test, the candidate is assessed on their ability to: 

  • talk about themselves and their family and professional life; 
  • ask questions suited to the given context for communication; 
  • give their opinion and explain the advantages and disadvantages of a plan, express agreement and disagreement; 
  • present a clear and structured line of argument in a style appropriate to the context; 
  • present complex subjects in a detailed and structured manner, develop these further and give a conclusion. 

This test evaluates the candidate’s ability to express themselves in written French and is made up of 3 tasks:

  • Task 1: describing a person, a group of people, a place or an item in a short message to someone in response to a question asked by one or several of the interlocutors in a short message. Number of words expected: minimum of 30 words/maximum of 60 words.
  • Task 2: writing an account of everyday activities aimed at one or several recipients to give a report of an experience or tell a story. Number of words expected: minimum of 40 words/maximum of 90 words.
  • Task 3: giving their opinion on a place, item, person/group of people to one or more readers. Number of words expected: minimum of 40 words/maximum of 90 words.

In this test, the candidate is assessed on their ability to: 

  • communicate a message clearly; 
  • provide the requested information; 
  • describe, tell, explain; 
  • justify a choice, position, decision, etc.; 
  • link ideas and demonstrate coherence in their discourse; 
  • express their opinion and defend it; 
  • use vocabulary and structures suited to the given task.

NB!  The written skills paper may be marked as “A1 not achieved” if:

  • the writing is not legible (in cases of writing on paper);
  • the completed tasks do not adhere to the word limits;
  • the writing is off-topic;
  • one or more tasks have not been completed.
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Registration

The TCF IRN sessions are organised throughout the year. The approved centres are authorised to organise sessions in line with their means to do so.

It is the candidate’s responsibility to contact the approved TCF centre closest to their home directly.

The approved TCF centre will provide information on:

  • the session dates;
  • the registration process;
  • the location for sitting the tests;
  • materials for sitting the exam (on paper or on a computer);
  • the cost.

You can sit the TCF IRN as many times as you want. However, you must wait 30 days between each session, regardless of the version concerned.

No diploma or preparation is required to be able to sit the TCF.

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Results

Your results will be sent to the test centre within 15 working days from the date on which France Éducation international receives the papers.

You should collect your certificate directly from the centre in which you sat the TCF IRN tests.

Your certificate will be valid for 2 years from the date on which the results were issued. This date of validity will be indicated on your certificate.

NB! Only one copy of your certificate will be issued. Therefore, it is recommended to keep a copy of your certificate.

The TCF IRN assesses up to B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages by the Council of Europe.

A1 not achieved

0 to 100 points

A1

101 to 199 point

A2

200 to 299 points

B1 atteint

Over 300 points

Each candidate receives a certificate that includes:

  • A score for listening comprehension and a score for reading comprehension; 
  • A mark out of 20 for verbal skills and a mark out of 20 for written skills; 
  • A level per competence (reading comprehension, listening comprehension, written skills, verbal skills) that ranges from “A1 not achieved” to “B1 achieved”; 
  • An indication of whether or not the level required for French naturalisation has been achieved: “B1 achieved” or “B1 not achieved”; 
  • An indication of whether or not the level required for a French residence permit has been achieved: “A2 achieved” or “A2 not achieved”.
  • An indication of whether or not A1 level has been achieved (in the context of the OFII market).

On the reverse side of the certificate are the tables explaining levels and how to interpret scores.

To present their certificate to the prefecture, the candidate must have achieved the level required to apply for a residence permit, which is A2 level.

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    Preparation for tests

    The TCF IRN is not based on a programme of lessons, but on the candidate’s French language skills and their general ability to use French.
    This language level depends on individual practice and may be improved by studying French in lessons or with specific books (see the resources page). 

    Here is some advice on preparing to sit the TCF:

    Before sitting the test:

    • become familiar with the TCF format (format and duration of tests),
    • become familiar with how the TCF is carried out,
    • read through example tests
    • immerse yourself in the French language as often as possible by reading, watching television, listening to the radio or recordings, talking with friends,

    During the test:

    • pay careful attention to the instructions,
    • concentrate as much as possible, especially during the listening comprehension test,
    • do not waste time taking notes for MCQ tests,
    • manage your time in the grammar comprehension, reading comprehension and written skills tests (candidates need to complete 3 tasks).

      In addition, to study, it is recommended to practise with:

    Studying for the TCF listening comprehension
    on Le français facile avec RFI website

    Le français facile avec RFI

    Studying for the mandatory TCF tests
    on the TV5Monde website

    TV5MONDE

     

     

    Documents for consultation

    Ressources pour se préparer au TCF
    Consulter

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