The French Test

Knowledge of French before Geneva

If you have no prior knowledge of French, do not worry.  You will not be the only one. If you have some knowledge, but don’t think it’s sufficient for living or studying in French, also do not worry. If you don’t have a strong enough background in French, you will be required to take a 3-week intensive French course before your first semester and you will have weekly French classes throughout your first two semesters. Of course, if you have a stronger knowledge of French, you do not have to attend these courses.

The French course

This is an intensive course organized during the three week period before the beginning of the semester. Before you arrive in Geneva, you will be asked to do an online test, based on which you will be placed in groups. However, if you find yourself in a group which does not fit your level of French, there is still a chance to be moved during the course. The lessons take place from Monday to Friday and last about three hours, either in the morning or the afternoon.

The French course will be your first chance to meet your new classmates. Especially towards the end of the first three weeks, the French course turns into a very nice social event. We recommend attending, if you’re on the fence. And even if you are not attending the course, if you are already in Geneva during these three weeks, try to find out what the French course kids are up to and join them.

If you have any doubts about the French course which weren’t covered here, please get in touch with the Admissions Office: http://graduateinstitute.ch/students/home/infoadmin_en.html

Students attending the intensive course will sit the French course in semester 3 of their studies.

The French test

The French test is scheduled to take place in September, usually during the first week of term.

Every student is required to sit for the French test, unless they meet one of the exemptions below (scroll down). The test consists of a strong portion of listening comprehension which will test students’ ability to understand and, in some cases, analyze what is being said in a series of French spoken texts. However, the test of course changes every year.

GISA Recommendation: To prepare for the test, work on your listening comprehension through audio programs (we recommend Pimsleur, which is quite good) or even through simply listening to French movies, at first with your native language subtitles and then without them. Work on reading comprehension through reading French newspapers online (try Le Monde, Liberation, Figaro); even an article a day can help you build your French up a bit more prior to arriving in Geneva.

If you do not pass this test, you will be able to take it again the following year after taking the weekly French classes during semester 1 and 2.

Exemptions from the French test

Students will not be required to take the French test if they:

  • are French native speakers
  • have completed secondary education in French, attested by the diploma
  • have completed at least one year of university studies through French, attested by the transcript
  • submit a French language certificate equivalent to or higher than a DELF B2 level

Make sure you bring any documents related to your French level with you when you arrive in Geneva.

More courses and resources

There are a number of resources available if you would like to improve your French with supplementary courses or “tandem” language exchanges. Visit the learning French page for more information.

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