French language tests For Members

Reader question: How is the French language test scored?

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Reader question: How is the French language test scored?
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If you're one of many foreigners in France faced with taking a French language test in order to secure residency or citizenship, it might be helpful to know how the test is marked and what examiners are looking for.


France's new immigration law has expanded the requirements for language tests for certain types of residency cards, while raising the language level required for French citizenship.

You can find full details of exactly how the new requirements work HERE

READ ALSO Who is exempt from the new French language tests?

The DELF/ DALF language test is a four-part exam with sections for listening, reading, writing and speaking.


The level required varies - A2 (higher level beginner) is needed for the first application for a multi-year carte de séjour, the lower intermediate level B1 is required for the 10-year carte de résident while naturalisation needs B2 level (higher intermediate).

If you're enrolling in a French university course you may also need to take a test - usually C1 (lower advanced level) is required, but some universities will accept B2. 

Pass mark

In order to pass the exam, you need to score a minimum of 50 points out of 100 available, with 25 points given for each of the four sections.

If you get less than five points on any section you fail, but if you only get 6 points out of 25 on one section you can still pass - as long as you have strong scores on the other three sections.


You might have heard that in French schools, pupils are penalised for a wrong answer, so if you're not sure it's better to write nothing than risk an error. That's not the case when taking the French language exams - in fact it's the opposite.

The listening and reading sections are largely multiple choice and you get a point for each correct answer and zero points for an incorrect or blank answer.

However when it comes to the written essay you get zero points for 'no answer or insufficient answer' and 1 point for 'poor answer'. So it's better to have a go at writing something even if you're not sure.


It's a good idea to practice before your exam on some past papers, and the the 'grille d'evaluation' (marking guide) is available along with past papers for your exam level.

This will show you exactly how each section is marked, and also give you a better idea of what the examiner is looking for - eg using multiple verb tenses or talking about plans in the conditional as well as the future tense.

The team at The Local has put together some tips for passing the exam, based on our own experiences of taking it - find the guide HERE.


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