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4 tips for acing your DELF and DALF exam

Congratulations on your decision to take your DELF (or DALF) exam!

An admirable decision, but the hardest part is still to come: preparing yourself well so that in a few months you can proudly hang your diploma on your living room wall.

Here are four tips that I invite you to follow (before you buy the frame for your diploma).

1. Choose the right level

Before you contact your exam center to register for your exam, you need to choose which level you'll take. As a reminder, six different diplomas are offered, corresponding to the six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR):

Basic User DELF A1 - DELF A2 Independent User DELF B1 - DELF B2

Proficient User DALF C1 - DALF C2

Put your ego away: be realistic when assessing your level to maximise your success. You may also decide to play it safe and choose a level below your actual level, if you haven't taken an exam in a long time or if the prospect of taking a test makes you nervous.

If you're currently taking courses with a textbook, the level covered is normally shown. If you're not sure, you can consult the CEFR self-assessment grid in English or in French, take a free test on RFI or TV5 Monde websites, or contact me.

2. Be familiar with the different sections of the test

Of course, cramming is not the idea, but there's nothing more disturbing than discovering the format of the test the day you're about to take it. You risk losing precious time and points.

To earn any of the six diplomas, candidates must pass tests in four competency areas: oral comprehension, oral expression, written comprehension, and written expression.

France Education International, which carries out the DELF and DALF exams, suggests a list of textbooks and test papers to prepare you.

As well, the Radio France Internationale website offers excellent exercises for practicing the DELF B2 listening comprehension test under exam conditions.

I also strongly advise you to get help from a serious tutor who has experience with DELF (or DALF) and the different sections of the exam. Employing a certified DELF-DALF examiner is of course ideal.

3. Follow the instructions thoroughly

I can see you rolling your eyes and saying “I know it". You can't imagine how many candidates foolishly lose points or fail their exam altogether because they didn't follow the instructions to the letter.

This is especially true for the speaking and writing sections.

As well, if you're asked to write a letter, remember to use greetings, write a date and sign.

Whatever your level, when you receive the instructions for your test, don't rush. Take a few minutes to underline the different points you need to cover, then make a list of them. Before you turn in your paper (or begin your oral presentation), make sure you've checked off each box on this list.

4. Practice the tests under exam conditions

There's no doubt that it's much easier to take your exam from the comfort of your living room, taking your time, sipping your coffee, using the Internet to check a word or correct your mistakes. But if you prepare for your exam only under these cozy conditions, you'll have a shocking surprise on the big day.

I strongly recommend that you practice your test under exam conditions: no internet or cell phones and under the time restriction of the actual test. With a coffee if you wish!

You should also practice writing by hand. In other words, no copy-paste. On the day of the test, you must use a black or blue pen (no pencil). You may use a correction fluid if you wish.

For the written section, get into the habit of making a draft before embarking on the final writing of your essay. Imagine how tedious it is for the examiner to read a text full of erasures and arrows!

By following my recommendations, you put all the chances on your side, and everything will go well on test day. You can then buy the frame for your diploma! In the meantime, if you need assistance (with your exam, not with the frame), I can help you.

Bonne chance !

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