TEF Vs TCF | Differences, Format, Syllabus Process & More

difference between TEF & TCF

If you are planning to go France for overseas education then knowing the difference between TEF and TCF is very important for you. TEF and TCF exams are conducted to check the French proficiency of students applying to Canadian universities. The reason for this is that Canada has two official languages-English and French. If you want to immigrate to Canada, you’ll have to be proficient in English or French. You’ll need to consult with your center and institution to know about the exam result they require. A majority of students around the globe give IELTS and TOEFL; however, few universities ask for TEF and TCF exam results to assess French language skills. There are no significant differences, apart from the format, time limit, and several questions asked. Let’s discuss the significance of the two tests and the differences between TEF and TCF.

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TEF or TCF- which French language test should I opt for?

If you want to apply for Canadian citizenship, you can opt for any of the two tests. TCF (Test de connaissance du français pour le Canada) and TEF (Test d’Evaluation du Français), both exam results are verified and accepted in Canada. If you’re planning to go to Quebec, there’s a different exam format and marking rules for TCF and TEF. 

We will suggest you consult your center or institution about the exam they require as some universities prefer either of the two.

Difference between TEF and TCF 

Even though both exams are for checking French proficiency, both exams serve a few different purposes as well. We have broken down both exams for you to easily understand.

TEF Exam is recognized as an official language proficiency test to apply for permanent residency as approved and accepted by the Ministère de l’Immigration et des Communautés Culturelles du Québec (MICC). The test is available in two different versions-

1. Paper-based exam

2. Computer-based exam

TCF Exam is also the same as TEF, official proof of French language proficiency and recognized by IRCC for Permanent Residency (PR). TCF is also mandatory if you’re planning to immigrate to Quebec; for this, you’ll have to clear TCFQ.

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TCF and TEF Format

TCF Format 

Compulsory Test

Sub-section No. of questions



29 25 minutes

Proficiency in Language Structures


15 minutes 



45 minutes 



85 minutes 

Optional Test

Sub-section No. of questions



Three levels of testing  12 minutes 


Three tasks

60 minutes 



72 minutes 

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TEF Format

Compulsory Test

Sub-section Subjects/Questions Duration
Listening 2 Subjects 15 minutes
Speaking 60 Questions 40 minutes
Reading 50 Questions 60 minutes
Writing 2 Topics 60 minutes
Vocabulary and Syntax 40 Questions 40 minutes

TEF exam syllabus

Speaking module checks a candidate’s ability to speak French and communication skills. Section A consists of obtaining information in the test, and section B consists of conversing with someone.

Writing module assesses the ability to express point of view in written format. Section A consists of writing articles, while section B will ask you to express yourself in written form.

In the listening module, candidates will have to listen and comprehend French audio clips. Questions will be asked in multiple-choice questions format.

Reading module will test a candidate’s ability to read, evaluate and understand written materials. The questions are asked in MCQ formats.

Vocabulary and syntax evaluates a candidate’s ability to use correct punctuation and grammar. Paper is in multiple-choice question format.

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TCF Exam syllabus

In the listening exam, MCQs are asked based on a video recording. The section tests the aspirant’s ability to evaluate and comprehend common words and expressions.

To check a candidate’s proficiency in language structures, grammar and vocabulary are tested. The questions will range from identifying the lexical errors to choosing correct language.

In the reading portion, a learner is evaluated on his/her ability to read conversations or articles. 

Speaking exam is optional, the examiner will take your one-on-one interview for about 15 minutes. Questions asked will start from A1 level and go to C2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The examiner will ask you to talk about any experience, place or person, and experience to analyze your speaking skills.

Written exam is also optional. In this exam you’ll have to complete three exercises. The first task will require you to write a small message of maximum 120 words. The second task comprises a small letter/message/note of at least 150 words. For the third exercise, the candidate needs to write two opinion pieces of around 180 words each. 

Please note that both the tests are equally difficult and easy to crack depending upon your preparation. Find sample papers and attempt to solve them both. Appear for the exam that appeals more to you and your personal cause. 

Validity of TEF and TCF exam results

The exam result for both exams is valid for up to two years. After two years, you’ll have to reapply for an exam. 

How to register for the TEF and TCF Exam?

TEF and TCF exams both have hundreds of accredited test centers around the world. Tests are conducted throughout the year. You can apply for the exam by contacting your exam centre after discussing the requirements of the institution you are applying to or according to your professional or personal reasons. 

Evaluate both exams and match your cause with them accordingly.

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What is the exam process?

The exam process is quite simple. However, there are regulations to appear in exams. For TEF and TCF there are the same rules and regulations that you need to follow. To help you with process that you need to follow, read ahead-

For the exam, check in with your supervisor at the exam centre. Bring your exam notification email copy and your government approved identification card, for example- Aadhar card, passport, pan card, or voter id card. Remember that bringing an ID card is mandatory, failure to produce the identification card means you will not be allowed to appear in the exam under any given circumstances.

After document verification you’ll be led to your assigned seat to appear for the exam. Keep your id card on the table at all times for further checking, this will save your time.  

No extra material apart from pen and identity card is allowed to be kept during the exam. Failure to do this, you’ll be asked to leave the room. 

If you’re late and the exam has already started, you won’t be allowed to enter under any circumstances. 

Candidates that are found indulging in misconduct, fraud and disturbance will be barred from appearing in exams for a fixed time period as fixed by CCI Paris for TEF and CIEP for TCF. 

How to check your results post TCF and TEF exams?

For the TEF exam result you’ll get your exam results from the testing center within 15 working days. The testing center sends exam results to each candidate so you don’t have to worry about the same, however, it may take 4 to 6 weeks to reach you. Whereas for TCF exams, you can check your exam results within 8-4 weeks after the test. 

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