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TCF "tout public"

Bandeau d'illustration du TCF tout public

The TCF "tout public" is aimed at all individuals 16 years old and above whose native language is not French and who want to assess their level of French for academic (students, prospective students, interns, etc.), professional (employees or future employees, etc.) or personal reasons. 

Together with a mandatory written skills test, the TCF "tout public" is the official test recognised by the Ministry of Higher Education and the Ministry of Culture as part of the DAP.

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General information

The TCF tout public is the language level test set by the French Ministry for National Education, Young People and Sports. It assesses general French language skills for those whose first language is not French.

Therefore, it is recognised by the following for this purpose:

  • Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation,
  • Department for Integration and Nationality Acquisition (part of the Ministry of the Interior),
  • Ministry of Culture,
  • Québec Ministry for Immigration, Francisation and Integration (MIFI),
  • university authorities,
  • language learning centres,
  • the workplace.
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About the tests

This TCF version is made up of 3 mandatory tests, which are presented as multiple choice questions (MCQ), and 2 additional and optional tests, which are given as exercises. The candidate can choose whether or not to sit these depending on their requirements:

  1. Listening comprehension*:  Exam room test: 29 multiple choice questions (4 possible answers, only 1 correct answer)
  2. Grammar comprehension*: Exam room test: 18 multiple choice questions (4 possible answers, only 1 correct answer)
  3. Reading comprehension*: Exam room test: 29 multiple choice questions (4 possible answers, only 1 correct answer)
  4. Written skills: Exam room test: 3 exercises
  5. Verbal skills: Individual test one-on-one with an examiner: 3 exercises

*When sitting the exam on a computer, the MCQ portion has 91 questions. The 15 additional questions (5 in each competency) compared to the paper version are not included in calculating the final score. They allow France Éducation international to carry out analyses on the validity of the questions.

The duration of the TCF tout public varies depending on the number of tests sat (between 1 hour 25 minutes minimum and 2 hours 37 minutes maximum):

  • Listening comprehension: 25 minutes;
  • Grammar comprehension*: 15 minutes;
  • Reading comprehension: 45 minutes;
  • Written skills: 60 minutes;
  • Verbal skills: 12 minutes (2 of which are for preparation).

*When sitting the test on a computer, there will be an extra 10 minutes to complete the listening comprehension, grammar comprehension and reading comprehension compared to those taking paper-based exams.

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 proficiency in the language’s grammar, from more basic to more complex rules, by: 

  • spotting mistakes in the word choice or register of the language; 
  • choosing the equivalent of an expression or grammatical term; 
  • choosing the correct forms according to the communication context. 

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.

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 (2 minutes): the candidate should demonstrate their ability to converse with a person they do not know (the assessor).
  • Task 2 – Exercise in interaction with preparation (5.5 minutes, 2 of which are spent preparing): 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 (4.5 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: 

  1. writing a message to describe, tell and/or explain something, addressed to one or several recipients who are specified in the instructions. Number of words expected: minimum of 60 words/maximum of 120 words. 
  2. writing an article, letter, note, etc., aimed at several recipients to give a report of an experience or tell a story. Reports and stories will be supported by comments, opinions and arguments, depending on the purpose (e.g. to make a claim, reconcile, etc.). Number of words expected: minimum of 120 words/maximum of 150 words. 
  3. writing a text (for a newspaper, website, colleague, superior at work, etc.) that compares two points of view on an event in society, expressed in two documents. The candidate gives their opinion on the subject addressed in the two documents. Number of words expected: minimum of 120 words/maximum of 180 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; 
  • compare two points of view; 
  • express their opinion and give arguments for it; 
  • use vocabulary and structures suited to the given task; 
  • rephrase an idea. 

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 tout public 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 tout public 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.

A candidate can choose to register for only the written skills test, only the verbal skills test or only the written and verbal skills tests, on the condition that they have sat the mandatory tests (the MCQs) and the date of sitting the additional tests is set, at the latest, 60 days before the date on which the initial certificate expires (which corresponds to the date on which the MCQ tests were sat). 

In this case, the candidate must provide the candidate code on the certificate that corresponds to the MCQ tests.

The validity of the certificate including the results of the written and/or verbal skills tests will be the same as the initial certificate (MCQ tests). This new certificate will have the scores achieved in the MCQs.

If the candidate sits the written skills and/or verbal skills tests on different dates and under a different candidate code, these results will not appear on the same certificate.

It is not possible to have a combination of the best results on one certificate.

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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.

*When the exam is sat using a computer, this period is reduced to 10 working days from the date on which the session ended, in the event that only the MCQ tests were completed.

You should collect your certificate directly from the centre in which you sat the TCF tout public 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 tout public assesses six levels of French knowledge (defined with reference to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages by the Council of Europe.

A1 not achieved

0 to 100 points

A1

101 to 199 points

A2

200 to 299 points

B1

300 to 399 points 

B2

400 to 499 points

C1

500 to 599 points

C2

600 to 699 points

Each candidate receives a certificate that includes, depending on the tests completed:

  • A score for listening comprehension, a score for grammar 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, grammar comprehension, listening comprehension, written skills, verbal skills) that ranges from “A1 not achieved” to“C2”;
  • 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”.

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

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    Preparation for tests

    The TCF tout public 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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