All you need to know about the fide test: the ultimate guide to understand and succeed at it (part1)

You’re thinking of settling in Switzerland, get a job here, and create your new life in this “cheesolate” (cheese + chocolate) country? Then you might need to show your ability to communicate in one of the national languages. And that’s where the fide test comes in.

Let me walk you through this test, what is it, what’s the content of the test, and the requirements to take it.

Let’s go! Here is all you need to know about the fide test.

“fide test”, what is it?

You’re a foreigner living in Switzerland and you need to pass the fide test? Hi, Adeline here, here to help!

Let’s start from the beginning: the fide test is a test that officially certifies your language level, in oral and in written, in Switzerland.

This applies to French, German and Italian.

Once passed, the fide test takes the form of a Language Passport: it demonstrates your oral and written skills in the chosen language in all Switzerland, to show your level of integration.

As a native French speaker, I will obviously be able to help you with French!

The fide test is mainly focused on questions about everyday life in Switzerland.

Why take the fide test?

Many reasons can lead you to take the fide test.

  • You want to apply to a university, private school, or a training course in Switzerland? A minimum level in the French language can be required, and the fide test can attest that you meet this criterion.

  • If you’re currently looking for a job in Switzerland, you can be asked about your French proficiency, and again, the fide test will prove your knowledge.

To obtain your B permit, you must have an oral A1 level.

For the C permit, your oral level must be A2 and your written one must be A1.

Have you got your C permit issued earlier (after 5 years in Switzerland and not 10 years)? Then you need a higher French level, with B1 level in oral and A1 level in written.

Finally, to obtain the Swiss nationality, you must have an oral B1 and your written level must be A2.

If my explanations are still unclear (which I hope not !!), I advise you to look at this well-made scheme.

How does the fide test work?

The fide test consists of 2 parts: an oral part and a written part.

On that note, please know that you can pass the fide test to evaluate your level in written or in oral or both. It actually depends on your needs.

  • The oral test assesses your speaking skills, as well as your understanding.

The “speak” part usually lasts for 20 minutes maximum, just like the “understand”.

Allow 40 minutes for the whole oral test.

The “speaking” assessment usually combines an introductory interview and always interactive tasks (in particular, you will describe pictures, simulate a phone conversation, reply to questions), whereas the “understanding” assessment consists of short audio texts and comprehension questions.

  • The written test includes “reading and written comprehension”, as well as “written production”. You should expect to spend 60 minutes (1 hour) on this part of the test.

But don’t worry, in another article I will explain in more detail how the fide test works and how to succeed!

What to understand about the different language levels?

To distinguish what learners of a language know, different language levels have been created, that are all based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) of the European Council.

- A1

It’s the first level of understanding and implies that the person you’re interacting with speaks slowly and clearly.

It also means that you can introduce yourself, answer some easy questions about various topics and make your way through your day-to-day life, here in Switzerland (for example while shopping).

- A2

In this other level, the jury will assume that your understanding is a bit deeper and extended to various topics such as school, education, work, health…

It will be speculated also that you can make yourself understood by a government office or public institution.

- B1

This level of language is called “independent”, which means that you’re able to understand important information about almost any matter and that you can cope with the majority of all the situations in everyday life, at work, and in public spaces.

On a more personal level, it will be considered that you know how to express your opinions, goals, hopes, and more.

If you’re a bit lost between the levels and don’t know what you need: don’t worry, I know everything about them and I’ll be guiding you all the way to help you reach this level.

What are the terms of the fide test?

- Requirements

Anyone over 16 years old can register for the fide test, and on the day of the test, you’ll be required to show an ID.

- Examination centers

There are many examination centers to pass the fide test.

According to the examination center you chose, you can register for the oral exam, the written one, or both.

My advice? Find the nearest center from your home to put all the chances on your side in succeeding! You’ll find here all the fide test centers, sorted by canton.

Note that if you register for both parts, it will probably be on 2 different days that you get to choose while applying.

- Number of times to pass the test

Good news: there is no limit on the number of times applicants may sit the test.

However, you’ll have to pay each new time you apply.

- Results expectations

To receive your results, you’ll need a postal mail address, as the results are delivered by post.

Be aware (it might surprise some people!) that the result - the Language Passport - is not expressed as “passed” or “failed” but indicates your language level (A1, A2, or B1).

But do not believe that no matter your level, you will get at least A1!

Indeed, in another article I will explain how the test fide works but I am already giving you a very important information: during the oral test, you will all start by an A2 exercise and at the end of this A2 exercise, if the examiner proposes you to continue with an A1 exercise, you can totally say “Yes” or say “No I want to continue with B1” (the customer, even a student, is always the king!).

But please note that if you agree to continue with A1 and if you get less than 25% of good answers you will obtain <A1 (it is a bit, much, like failing!).

And if you continue with exercise B1 (and not A1) because the examiner recommended it to you (well done!) or because you are a self-confident rebel! (be careful! not often the best choice for a test! the client is not always right): if you have less than 25% of good answers you will obtain <A2 and not A1 by default (it would have been too easy otherwise!).

So again, even if they do not say in black and white “failed”, having <A1 or >A2 it's unfortunately really like failing his test!

What’s the price of the fide test?

The price depends on the part of the fide test that you chose to pass.

  • For the oral exam only, it will cost you CHF 170 ;

  • For the written part of the test, the price is CHF 120 ;

  • For both parts of the test (oral + written), your budget must be CHF 250.

I really hope this guide about fide test will answer all of your questions.

However, if you have any questions or inquiries left, please feel free to ask me, I’d be pleased to answer them to the best of my knowledge and abilities! Also, check out my other articles on how to succeed at the fide test or how to differentiate the fide test and the DELF test. And if you are ready to prepare for the test, I’d be more than happy to be by your side and help you get ready for success!!

Talk soon ;)