Okay, so I know WHAT the tests look like and what I have to practice. I spent a lot of time tonight that seemed almost wasted, although mostly it was identifying certain phrases that I need to simply memorize the structure of, and to recognize them when they show up in the test.
|K. Written Exam, Part 1||The first part is a “fill in the blank” option … there is a gap in a phrase where I have 4 choices of a word to place in the sentence. Other times it is a long phrase. The farther I go in the test, the harder the practice questions become. I don’t know if that happens in the actual test. While there are no “tricks”, there are certain small elements to watch for such as concordance of verbs, verb tenses, prepositions, vocabulary, or sometimes, “faux amis” (false friends where a word in English is used, as an anglicism, rather than the real french word).|
|L. Written Exam, Part 2||The second part is “identify the error”, if there is one. There is a paragraph with three sub-phrases highlighted. I have to choose which one of them has an error in it, or if none do, to choose “aucune” error. There aren’t many of these compared to the other type, but some are harder since instead of having 3 wrong and only 1 right answer, you are choosing either 2 of 3 are right or all three are right.|
|M. Oral Exam, Part 1||This part isn’t much different from the original “mise en train” section of the previous form of the test. There are a bunch of simple questions and only really two “types” of responses. If it is a short or simple question, the response should also be short and sweet. It is designed to test your comprehension of the questions and to respond directly to it, not elaborate i.e. 1 or 2 sentences at the most. The other type asks for a description of something — my route to work, my office, whatever. Something that requires maybe 4-5 sentences to do, no more, and not with a lot of detail, although the details that are used have to be specific.|
|N. Oral Exam, Part 2||The second part of the exam is very different from the old version. It is all recorded, and I have to listen to two voice mails and two short conversations. I can hear each one twice, and then I have to respond. For the voice mails, there are generally three specific questions — the reason for the call, the problem described, and the resolution. For the discussion, it is basically the same, although there can be more specific forms of the question tied to the content (instead of asking what the solution is, they may ask what the person suggested if something doesn’t work, for example, something specific in the discussion). Both are recommended to use the “indirect style” (such as “the man said…” or “Marie said…” but not direct quotes, more summary).|
|O. Oral Exam, Part 3||
For the third part, I have to do a short “presentation” (une exposition). They give me 3 possible topics, and I choose one. If I don’t like any of the three, I can request a fourth but then there is no choice, it has to be the fourth (a risk). I have 90 seconds to prepare, and am supposed to talk about the issue for up to 3 minutes. The goal is between 2-3 minutes. The simple recommended “skeleton” is the standard “introduction”, “develop the idea”, and “conclusion”. Then there are likely two or three follow-up questions. These are likely to be at least one “opinion” question, one “hypothesis” question, and more and more, one question requiring the ability to speak in the “general voice” rather than the personal voice (i.e. no “je”). One thing I like about my training is that they recommend preparing for a very specific form of hypothesis (the imparfait with the conditional present, as of the 3-4 types, it is either the only one used or if you get something else, you can convert to it — good advice for those who struggle with the hypothesis forms). They also suggested that I concentrate on using one of four specific verbs…for example, I can likely use:
It’s a little formulaic, but it’s a nice “back pocket” tool to have if I get stuck on something.
|P. Oral Exam, Part 4||The fourth part is the “long dialogue”. Of course, the real “test” is if I make it this far. If I don’t pass the first two parts, I don’t necessarily get the third part, and the same with the third part needing to be passed to get to the fourth part. In the past, this was where you would likely get a role play, whereas now they use the long dialogue and then you have to do a summary of it. Again, likely using the indirect style, but with more detail than previous. Then there will be 2-3 questions of follow-up, likely including another opinion or “general voice” (the hypothesis is usually only in part 3). Of course, if you were weak on any of them in part 3, they’ll DEFINITELY repeat them here. The only trick here, as with the opinion piece, is to make sure I use “les mots liens” to ensure I’m using more complex phrases. I also have to work on my “replacements” so that I don’t repeat long phrases (I suck at relative pronoun replacements to shorten / avoid having two long sentences).|