SFS / MSFS Proficiency Exams

What is the SFS / MSFS Proficiency Exam?

The French Proficiency Exam is an oral language exam. Candidates will be judged on their ability to outline the given article and sustain a conversation on topics in international affairs, politics, economics, culture, and civilization, relating specifically to the French or Francophone worlds, while using a wide range of vocabulary, correct grammar, proper pronunciation, and a professional level of language.

The content (see below) is the basis for the conversations, and as such, it is an integral component of the exam. A student who is not able to discuss topics because of a lack of general knowledge will, in all probability, not pass the exam.

The candidate will be provided with an article taken from a recent issue of a French or Francophone newspaper or magazine and will be given fifteen (15) minutes to read it. The candidate will then go into an office where two (2) examiners will listen to the candidate give a short outline of the article, after which the examiners will ask questions about the article and proceed to a discussion (which the candidate is expected to sustain) of several topics taken from the list of themes. This portion of the exam will last between fifteen (15) and twenty (20) minutes.

BSFS and MSB candidates will be evaluated on a Pass/Fail basis. The Department of French and Francophone Studies will distribute certificates to students who pass the exam with a more detailed assessment of their performance (Good, Very Good, Excellent). MSFS, MAGES, and MAGHD candidates will be rated as Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. They must receive a rating of “Good” to pass the exam.

School Prerequisite Grading Scale
Placement alone # courses taken in Dpt at minimum Minimum level courses
BSFS no 1  112, (151), 161, gateway, or above gateway Pass/Fail
MSFS 111* or better none (unless placement below 111*) if placement below 111*, enrollment in 112, 161, or above gateway; otherwise none Minimum of Good to pass

When is the exam offered?

The French Proficiency Exam is offered in December and April. The exam will also be offered over the summer for students enrolled in the FREN 161 summer course. If the course does not open, the exam will not be offered. Please see below for other eligibility requirements. A $50.00 fee will be charged for students needing to take to the exam outside of the regular examination periods.

Who is eligible to take the BSFS Proficiency Exam?

BSFS, MSB candidates:

All are required to take the Placement Exam offered by the Department of French and Francophone Studies as a first step to proper placement and determination of language preparedness. Students must have completed FREN 112, 151, 161, 215, 250, 251, or any course beyond the Gateway (250/251). French 151 is also acceptable but does not offer the best preparation for the exam.

Students must complete at least one French course at Georgetown prior to taking the exam.

Who is eligible to take the MSFS Proficiency Exam?

MSFS, MAGES, MAGHD candidates: 

All students (except graduate students who have had formalized French instruction in a Francophone country) are required to take the French Placement Exam to determine adequate language preparedness. MSFS students who have earned above a 111* on the French Placement Test are eligible to take the exam. MSFS students who have completed or are enrolled in 112, 151, 161, 215, 250, 251, or any course beyond the Gateway (250/251) are also eligible to sit for the exam.

How should a student prepare for the Proficiency Exam?

All students must review and become familiar with the topics (French or African studies) on which the discussions might be based (see below). The list of themes covers material on the French and/or the Francophone World which students cover in Advanced French I and II (as well as more advanced courses such as Topics for Oral Proficiency, African Self-Perceptions, Francophone Countries, etc.). Candidates may obtain additional information from Professor Boutheina Bridaa. Dictionaries may not be used during any portion of the exam. Students may consult the article in front of them, write notes, or underline text if they would like.

What content will the exam cover?

For the reading comprehension component of the exam, selected articles will be made available to the student fifteen (15) minutes prior to the exam. Along with the article itself, student should be prepared to discuss all topics or themes listed below.

Les principaux Thèmes à étudier

La France

La vie politique
  • La République Française et ses institutions politiques
  • Les partis politiques
  • Les élections et leurs modalités
La vie sociale
  • L’immigration
  • Les religions et la laïcité
  • La protection sociale
  • Le système de l’enseignement
  • L’organisation du travail et la vie professionnelle

L’Union Européenne

L’Histoire et les objectifs
  • Les institutions européennes
  • Les pays membres de l’UE
  • L’UE aujourd’hui
La Francophonie
  • L’histoire de la Francophonie
  • Les pays membres
  • L’organisation de la Francophonie et son rôle
  • Les pays observateurs

African Studies

If you have focused on Francophone Africa in your studies, you may request in advance to take the exam on an African Studies topic. 

Results of the exam will be emailed to students by their respective schools.

*For students graduating Spring 2021 or sooner, a score of 96+ will be honored to qualify to take the SFS Proficiency Exam.