HE Exams Wiki

There are three routes to studying French

  • as a Modern Foreign Language (MFL)/Second Language
  • as a First Language
  • as a DELF (an internationally-recognised French language qualification which shows proficiency at a variety of levels).

GCSE/IGCSE French (Modern Foreign Language)

IGCSE French has historically the option taken by most home-educators now, but the new 9-1 GCSE languages are also now available to external candidates. The new GCSEs follow the format of the IGCSEs, with a speaking assessment which is recorded and sent to the exam board. As with the IGCSE, you would need to get the centre to agree to do your oral exam. However, as they may be doing it for their own candidates, it might be easier to get schools to agree to take you on as an external candidate.

NOTE:  The Speaking and Listening Component is compulsory for both GCSE and IGCSE French.  You MUST confirm that you have an exam centre prepared to do the speaking test, as many centres will not do this for external candidates. It is best to ask the exam centre to confirm in writing that they can offer the speaking test, to avoid misunderstandings.

Can you bring your own tutor for the speaking test?

For Edexcel GCSEs and IGCSEs, the speaking test is recorded and sent off to the exam board for marking. As the tutor is not marking the work, it is possible for them to act as questioner for the speaking test without it giving the candidate an advantage. It is common in schools for the class teacher to conduct the speaking assessment. If your exam centre doesn't offer the speaking test, they may be prepared to work with your tutor. They would have to check the tutor's qualifications and take responsibility for the tutor. It is entirely up to the exam centre whether they do this or not.

Edexcel IGCSE French (Modern Foreign Language)

Edexcel IGCSE French

  • Exams from 2019
  • Available in Summer series
  • Specification code 4FR1
  • The qualification is untiered

Subject content

The content of Edexcel IGCSE French papers covers five topic areas:

  • Home and abroad
  • Education and employment
  • Personal life and relationships
  • The world around us
  • Social activities, fitness and health.


2 written papers and one spoken examination.

  • Paper 1 - Listening 30 minutes, plus 5 minutes’ reading time - 40 marks - 25%. Tests listening skills across the five topic areas through a combination of multiple-choice, multiple-matching, note-taking and gap-fill questions.
  • Paper 2 - Reading and writing 1 hour 45 minutes - 80 marks (40 marks for reading and 40 marks for writing) - 50% Assesses reading and writing skills in separate sections across the five topic areas. Section A: Reading: a combination of multiple-choice, note-taking, gap-fill and short-answer questions. Section B: Writing: two open-response writing tasks and a task that requires writing verbs in their correct forms. Each task in this section is linked to a specific topic area.
  • Paper 3 - Internally conducted and externally assessed spoken examination. Usually scheduled between mid-March and the date of the written exams 8–10 minutes - 40 marks - 25% Assesses speaking skills across the five topic areas, with some sub-topics excluded.

CAIE IGCSE French (Modern Foreign Language)

CAIE IGCSE French (9-1 grading) or (A*-G grading) [The grading is different, but the specifications and exams are identical]

  • Exams from 2022
  • Available in Summer and November series in the UK (March in India)
  • Specification code 7156 (9-1 grading) or 0520 (A*-G grading)
  • The qualification is untiered (For 2021 exam specification see: CAIE IGCSE French (9-1 grading) or (A*-G grading) )

Subject Content

The content of CAIE IGCSE French is organised into five broad topic areas:

  • Everyday activities
  • Personal and social life
  • The world around us
  • The world of work
  • The international world

Candidates are expected to read and understand a variety of written and spoken texts on familiar topics. They will be required to demonstrate understanding of the main ideas, opinions and attitudes, as well as select and extract relevant details and deduce the meaning of occasional unknown words from context.


3 written papers and one spoken examination

  • Paper 1 - Listening - Approx 50 minutes- 40 marks - 25%. Candidates listen to a number of recordings and answer multiple-choice and matching questions. Externally assessed.
  • Paper 2 - Reading - 1 hour - 45 marks - 25%. Candidates read a number of texts and answer multiple-choice and matching questions as well as questions requiring short answers. Externally assessed
  • Paper 3 - Speaking - Approx 10 minutes - 40 marks - 25%. One role play and conversations on two topics. Internally assessed and externally moderated.
  • Paper 4 - Writing - 1 hour - 45 marks - 25%. One form-filling task, one directed writing task and one task in the format of an email/letter or article/blog. Externally assessed.

GCSE French


GCSE French Edexcel


GCSE French Eduqas


GCSE/IGCSE French - First Language

CAIE French - First Language

  • Exams from 2022
  • Available in Summer series in the UK
  • Specification code 0501 (A*-G grading)
  • The qualification is untiered
  • 2 Papers - Paper 1 Reading - Paper 2 Writing.

DELF Exams - Alternative French Qualifications

DELF are internationally-recognised French language qualifications which show proficiency at a variety of levels. These may be easier for you to access examinations for than GCSEs. You cannot rely on them being accepted instead of a GCSE for college entry, because often colleges want to see a certain number of GCSEs for general admissions purposes. However, DELF exams certainly demonstrate competency at a variety of levels. The lowest levels are often taken by quite young children and can be very accessible and great confidence builders.

Comparisons of international qualification levels to show how DELF levels compare to A-level and GCSE.

Taking DELF exams in the UK - from the Insititut Francais de Royaume - Uni (note there are many exam centres for DELF, not just this one).


French Courses and Textbooks

E-French Tuition Online- courses from a home-educating parent and qualified French teacher and native French speaker, Véronique Barrot. Recommended by some home educators on the HE-exams group. She offers live online KS3 and IGCSE French courses as well as one to one tuition packages specially designed for home educated children. Every year she has new courses starting in September. 

Galore Park publish a range of French materials and are very home-ed friendly. 

Online resources

[DuoLingo- Free interactive site, good for a few European languages - also available as iPad and Android apps.  Includes lessons, tests, and a competitive and optional social element.  Great for teaching you exact spellings and accents.  Really good fun. May be better suited to teens than littlies as many of the sentences you have to translate are about drinking wine and beer!  As well as completing exercises and gaining points, you can help to translate the web via a crowdsourcing project.

Busuu- Interactive site and language learning community - can put you in touch with other learners to practise together.  

Conversation Exchange - Pairs you with another learner who wants to learn, say, English - you can meet, Skype, email etc.. to practise.

Zut! - Interactive language site, free outside school hours.  Covers French, German, Welsh and Spanish.

Memrise - Vocabulary building using fun mnemonics techniques in a game-like format.  Covers many languages including French, Mandarin and Japanese. “A world memory champion and a neuroscientist have joined forces to create a language-learning website called Memrise, which combines mnemonic tricks with a game to help users learn quickly and efficiently”

Quizlet - Vocabulary flashcards in French and other languages 

BBC Languages- Courses in a number of languages, all free online.

Language Resources UK - games, printable worksheets, teacher resources.

Online Tutors via Skype

There are various online tutor sites where you can get one-to-one tuition over Skype, usually cheaper than face-to-face.  eg see [The Tutor Crowd] or this French specialist tutor: http://www.myfrenchtutor.co.uk/