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ISEB Common Entrance French Exam

Introduction

Common Entrance French is divided into listening, speaking, reading and writing. There are tiered papers: Level 1 and Level 2. Level 1 is aimed at candidates who have studied French for between 30 and 40 hours, or who find the language difficult.

At Level 1, the past tenses are not required in any paper and, in the writing component, candidates are expected to produce basic language only in the last section. At Level 2, exercises in the speaking and writing components offer open-ended tasks which allow candidates to show knowledge of a range of tenses, should they choose to use them.

There are four assessment objectives. Please find our full breakdown of CE French. Requisite assessment details and objectives below.

Listening (25%; about 25 minutes)

This will be based on a number of short passages recorded on a CD. Instructions will be given in English. There will be 25 questions, usually arranged in five sections. There will be a range of test-types in English: these might include multiple choice, true/false, table/grid completion, putting symbols on a map/plan, box-ticking, matching the recording with visual/verbal options, completing sentences/pictures, linking opinions with speakers, correcting a passage with mistakes highlighted, choosing correct answers or answering questions in English.

Speaking (25%; about 6 minutes)

The teacher-examiner will assess the candidate’s performance and will submit recordings of all candidates for moderation. Instructions will be printed in English.
Level 1 There will be a discussion on two prepared topics.
Level 2 There will be a role-play situation and discussion on two prepared topics. A bilingual dictionary may be used by the candidate during the allowed preparation time for the speaking component only.

Role-play situation (about 2 minutes; 9 marks)
This exercise is not for Level 1 candidates.

The examiner will give each candidate, at random, one situation from the three which are set, ensuring that all the situations are used equally. The candidate will be required to carry out six tasks in the target language which have been given in English. Past tenses will not be required in this exercise. One of the tasks will be unpredictable and will require the candidate to respond, unprepared, to the examiner’s question. The role plays may be based on any area of the syllabus.

Topic A (1–2 minutes; 10 marks for Level 1; 8 marks for Level 2)
The candidate will choose any topic covered by the syllabus or a topic in connection with a country where the target language is spoken:

• a town or region
• a regional or national celebration
• an artist (painter, sculptor, writer, composer etc)
• a historical figure
• a sportsman/sportswoman

The candidate should introduce his/her topic, with the teacher-examiner intervening after about 30 seconds to ask at least four questions during the course of the two minutes. Credit will be given for communication of information, pronunciation and intonation, range of vocabulary, range of grammar as set out in the syllabus, accuracy, fluency and readiness of response.

Topic B (1–2 minutes; 10 marks for Level 1; 8 marks for Level 2)
The candidate will be required to speak about one of the following topic areas:

• house, home, daily routine and chores
• free-time and holiday activities
• life and work at school
• personal description, family, friends and pets

The examiner will ask the candidate to introduce the topic in the target language. After about 30 seconds, the examiner will intervene to ask at least four questions during the course of the two minutes. Credit will be given for relevant communication, appropriate response to the questions and quality of language, including pronunciation.

Level 1
The candidate will choose the topic for discussion, but it must be different from that chosen for Topic A.

Level 2
The examiner will choose the topic for each candidate and give him/her the title at the beginning of the preparation time. The examiner must make equal use of the topics in random order, ensuring, however, that no candidate receives the same topic for topic B as that chosen for topic A.

Reading and writing (50%; 60 minutes)

Part A: Reading

Instructions will be given in English. There will be 25 questions on a number of short passages, arranged in five sections. There will be several exercises of differing length, covering a range of different approaches to the development of reading skills, e.g. gap filling, multiple choice, matching headlines to texts, matching pictures to descriptions, matching two halves of a sentence, matching questions and answers, matching people and opinions, choosing a number of correct answers.

Part B: Writing

Instructions will be given in English.

Level 1
There will be three sections worth a total of 25 marks. The first will contain ten sentence completion questions and the second will require candidates to write short sentences about five pictures; the third section will ask candidates to write a few short sentences on a given topic from the syllabus.

Level 2
There will be two written exercises:

Section One (8 marks)
This question will require the writing of five simple sentences in the target language, each based on a visual or written stimulus. Candidates should write five to ten words on each stimulus. Marks will be awarded for content, accuracy and quality of language.

Section Two (17 marks)
This question will require 80–130 words of continuous writing in the form of a letter/email based on a written stimulus in the target language. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate the full range of their knowledge of the linguistic features contained in the syllabus. Marks will be awarded for content, accuracy and quality of language.

Assessment details

Assessment Objectives

The examination will test candidates ability to:

  • AO1 show an understanding of the spoken language dealing with a range of familiar topics, and identify and note main points and specific details, including opinions;
  • AO2 take part in short conversations, giving and obtaining information and opinions;
  • AO3 show an understanding of a number of printed items, ranging from short, simple phrases to longer, more complex texts and identify and note main points and specific details, including opinions;
  • AO4 produce pieces of writing, ranging from short phrases to longer passages in which they seek and convey information and opinions
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