How to Pass the DELF-DALF Exams and Get Your Diploma

The DELF-DALF exams are among the most sought-after language proficiency diplomas in the world. Issued by France’s Ministry of Education, these diplomas certify your linguistic competence in French and are primarily targeted towards non-native speakers. Unlike many other certifications, the DELF-DALF have lifelong validity and do not expire, unless you request to cancel them. If you are planning to apply to a higher education institution or looking for a job in a French-speaking country, a DELF-DALF certification at a particular level is often one of the prerequisite criteria for admission or employment. Even if you don’t need a DELF-DALF diploma for academic or professional reasons, they are also a great way to track your learning progress, and attaining a DELF-DALF diploma is an objective, measurable goal to work towards.

Tip #1: Research the different DELF-DALF exam versions.

There are currently four versions of the DELF-DALF exams. Each of these versions is targeted towards different audiences and has different levels corresponding to the CEFR guidelines. They are:

  • The DELF Prim for primary school students (between the ages of 8 and 12). It has 3 levels: A1.1, A1 and A2.
  • The DELF Junior/Scolaire for secondary school students (between the ages of 12 and 18). It has four levels: A1, A2, B1, and B2.
  • The DELF-DALF Tout Public for adults (above the age of 18), although younger candidates can still sit for the test. It has all the levels in the CEFR guidelines: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.
  • The DELF Pro for working professionals seeking employment in a French-speaking country. It has four levels: A1, A2, B1, and B2.

All versions of the DELF-DALF exams confer a diploma corresponding to the level they test. The DELF-DALF version you have taken will not be mentioned on the diploma: the only difference between each exam version is in its content, which varies based on the exam’s targeted cohort.

Tip #2: Assess your level of French proficiency.

It is important to accurately gauge your French proficiency level before registering for a DELF-DALF exam. Unlike other French proficiency tests, like the TEF or TCF, the DELF is not a multilevel test. Instead, you select a DELF-DALF exam version and level, and you can only pass or fail the test for that level. For this reason, you must select an exam level that is appropriate for your goals and isn’t too easy nor too difficult. In general, a DELF B2 (and in some cases, a DALF C1) usually fulfils university and professional language requirements. However, it is important that you verify the French proficiency requirements for your desired degree or job.

Another way to decide which DELF-DALF exam level you should take, especially if you’re just doing the DELF-DALF for personal reasons, is to look at the self-assessment grid on the Council of Europe’s website:

Tip #3: Learn about the DELF-DALF exam format.

Your DELF-DALF preparation starts when you try to understand the test and what it entails. There are different test formats for different proficiency levels. To get familiar with the format of the test you are planning to sit for, you can visit France Education International’s website: The website has a lot of information about each diploma and even includes a sample test and the candidate’s manual to help you prepare. Bear in mind that the sample test and candidate’s manual provided are for those who are taking the new format of the DELF-DALF exams, which started being introduced in 2020. Some test centres still use the old format, so it is important that you verify what format is being used at the test centre you have registered in. From 2023, all test centers will use the new format.

Tip #4: Understand the failing and passing conditions of the test.

To pass the DELF-DALF examinations, you must:

Obtain at least 50 points out of a total of 100 points.

Get at least 5 points in each of the four sections of the test (or at least 10 points in the DALF C2 as there are only 2 sections).

If both these conditions are not met, you will fail the test. If you leave the examination early or arrive late, you will also fail the test.

Tip #5: Understand your own strengths and weaknesses.

If you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can develop a better strategy to do well on the test. For example, if your reading and listening comprehension is good but your writing and speaking are poor, you can work on perfecting your reading and listening comprehension skills to ensure that you still pass the exam, even with a bad writing and speaking score. For an exam like the DELF-DALF with fairly lenient passing conditions, focusing on your strengths and ensuring that your weaknesses do not fail you is a great strategy to pass the exam, especially if you have limited time to prepare for the test.

Tip #6 Buy a preparation book (and a few textbooks and workbooks).

There are numerous DELF-DALF preparation books available online from major foreign language publishers, including Hachette FLE, Didier, CLE International, Maison des Langues, and PUG. Remember to buy the DELF preparation book that corresponds to your level (you don’t want to have the A2 book if you’re sitting for a B2 exam) and buy the answer key if it is sold separately. Most preparation books have tips and strategies to tackle each question type on the DELF-DALF exams and also have many sample papers that can be used for practice. The publishers of these books also have textbooks and workbooks (some of which are mentioned on Learn French Faster’s website) which can be used to prepare for the test. Keep in mind, however, that these resources don’t help you specifically prepare for the DELF; rather, they are for a more general use and should be used before or along with a DELF preparation book and not after.

Tip #7: Use Sample Papers to Prepare

For each DELF-DALF exam, there are many DELF-DALF sample papers available on the official DELF-DALF website: If you are taking the old version of the DELF-DALF, this website is especially useful because it has many sample papers of the old DELF-DALF, unlike France Education International’s website. These sample papers will allow you to familiarise yourself with the test and practise answering questions that are similar to the ones you will have to answer on test day. The transcriptions for the audio tasks are provided on the website, which can be very useful when analysing your answers. These tests can also be used to help you learn new vocabulary.

Tip #8 Attend DELF preparation courses.

Many French language learning institutes offer DELF preparation courses. These courses typically last for a couple of weeks and are almost always held close to the date of the exam. To participate in some of these courses, you can register for them at the nearest Alliance Française in your city. These institutes also teach French outside of just DELF-DALF preparation, so enrolling in a French language course that corresponds to your level also helps.

Tip #9: Memorise key words and phrases.

Memorising words and phrases is the key to acing the writing and speaking parts of the exam. Create a list of important words and phrases (including greetings and connectors) that you will use in the test. You can find these words in most DELF preparation guides. Using a spaced-repetition system like Anki (which I have covered how to use in this article) will help you better retain these words and phrases so that you don’t forget them during the exam.

Tip #10: Follow the rules and regulations of the test.

On test day, you are required to bring a blue or black pen to take the exam (other pen colours are not allowed). You may also bring a pencil and an eraser. However, your final answer must be written in pen, otherwise your exam will not be corrected. Dictionaries are not allowed for any of the DELF exams. A monolingual (French-French) dictionary is allowed for the oral production section of the DALF C1 exam and all the sections of the DALF C2. Any form of malpractice, including but not limited to cheating, talking to other candidates, using a dictionary when not permitted to, and so on, will result in you failing the test. You will be ineligible to sit for a DELF-DALF exam for 5 years if you are caught doing so.

Remember that the DELF-DALF exam is not the end of the world. Failing the test or doing badly on it does not mean that your French language skills are bad. Even if you end up not doing well, the journey you have taken to prepare for the test would have greatly improved your French language abilities and given you a goal to achieve. If you have prepared well and followed all the tips in this article, you can be sure that you will have nothing to worry about come test day.

Bonne chance et bonne préparation !

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