The TCF is a standardized and graded test designed using an extremely rigorous method that makes it a genuine measuring instrument. It took almost 3 years to create this quality tool, whose results are consistent – i.e. reliable and comparable – regardless of the examination session for which the candidate registers. The TCF is a standardized, graded and calibrated test. Every question asked during an examination session has been pre-tested and subjected to precise psychometric analyses, guaranteeing that results are comparable, session after session, on the Council of Europe’s reference scale, which has six levels of competency.
The whole test creation process was monitored and approved by a high-level scientific committee composed of 25 linguists, grammarians and lexicologists and chaired by Mr Bernard Cerquiglini, delegate general for the French language.
The results reliably position candidates at one of the six levels of the Council of Europe’s scale. The TCF was developed on behalf of the French Ministry of Education, in order to give France an assessment tool corresponding to the American TOEFL.
The TCF, created at the request of the French Ministry of Education by the CIEP, a public institution with responsibilities at international level, is recognised by the French Department for Higher Education, university authorities and university language centres in France and abroad as well as by the administrative authorities and the various institutions responsible for the teaching of French abroad.
The levels grid for interpreting marks, translated into 11 languages, allows users (in the world of education or work) to know exactly what a person who has taken the TCF is capable of doing.
About the examination:
The compulsory examinations last 1 hour 30 minutes. The supplementary examinations (written expression and spoken expression) last 2 hours.
In the compulsory examinations, listening comprehension, use of language structures and reading comprehension.
In the supplementary examinations, spoken expression and written expression.
In order to take the optional examinations, you must have taken the compulsory examinations.
You can take:
The compulsory examinations only;
The compulsory examinations and just one optional examination;
The compulsory examinations and both optional examinations.
In the compulsory examinations, most of the questions are multiple choice questions. Some of them involve pairing up different types of information (matching exercises).
In the “use of language structures” section, the structures are always connected with communicative situations and contexts going from familiar to abstract, depending on the level.
The optional examinations can be taken on different dates to the compulsory examinations, as long as they are taken within the validity period of the test.
Assessment Method, validity & results:
The compulsory examinations are marked by computer (using a scanner), which does not involve evaluation by the scorer. Marking is objective, reliable and quick. The supplementary examinations are marked by a team of approved teachers, trained at the CIEP.
All written expression examination papers and recordings for the spoken expression examination are double-marked. The interview is recorded on a tape, which is sent to the CIEP.
The test currently takes the form of a booklet (paper) and an answer sheet. It is taken in a group (for the compulsory examinations and the written expression examination) and on a one-to-one basis (for the spoken expression examination) in approved centers, on the dates set by these centers.
The marks are valid for 2 years from the date on which you took the test. The end date of the validity period is shown on the certificate issued to the candidate.
The end date of the validity period of the supplementary examination marks is identical to that of the main test (compulsory examinations), regardless of the date on which these examinations were taken.
The results are sent to the test centre or to the candidate if the person is no longer registered with the centre, within 3 weeks of receipt of the examination papers by the CIEP.
A person many give the test as many times as one wants. However you have to leave a gap of 60 days between examination sessions.