The fide test from A to Z: the oral exam

You’re planning on taking the fide test? You obviously want to know everything before registering. Good news: I’m an expert on fide test, so I can tell you exactly how it happens.

Here is everything you need to know about the oral part.

Stay tuned, the written part will be out soon, so you have a complete and perfect overview of the test!

Welcome to the fide test exam center!

Today is the big day: you’re going to take your fide oral exam!

First, don't forget to bring a valid ID. This will be specified in your invitation when you register for the exam, but you need to bring it on D-Day.

Once you’ve arrived, you’ll be invited to wait in the waiting room.

Then you’ll be called and asked to give your name and show your ID.

Part 1 of the oral fide test: speaking

The oral exam of the fide test consists of 2 parts.

  1. Speaking

  2. Understanding

As you know, the whole oral part of the fide test lasts for 40 minutes.

  • 20 min for the speaking part

  • 20 min for the understanding part

The first part of the oral test is usually the "speaking" part.

Warm-up of about 2 minutes

The first examiner (E1) will introduce him/herself. He/she is the one who’ll talk to you.

The other examiner (E2) will be only here to observe and evaluate your level but won’t be speaking.

Then, in most cases it’s your turn to introduce yourself ("can you please introduce yourself quickly?"): this is a "warm-up".

You can speak for 1 or 2 minutes. The idea is to get you comfortable.

Explain where you live, where you come from, what you do for a living, why you decided to take the fide test… anything you want, really, just so the examiner can get to know you.

The examiner might ask you a couple more questions, such as “where do you work”, but don’t worry, there won’t be any tricky questions.

This warm-up will give him/her the first idea of your language level.

For the speaking part, everyone starts at A2 level

Please remember that when registering for the fide test, you don’t have to give your level.

Whatever your exact French level is, you’ll start with an A2 exercise.

So it’s really the examiner that will conduct the conversation, and direct it according to your level.

At the end of the A2 test, the examiner will recommend that you either continue with the "speaking" and "understanding" test at level A1 or level B1.

The first exercise of the speaking part

For the first exercise of the speaking part of the oral exam of the fide, you’ll be presented with an image, without any text.

Example of an image you can be presented to, without any text and that you have to describe.

It describes a situation, that you’ll be asked about in 3 ways:

1. Description of the image

The examiner E1 will say “We’re now going to talk about subject X. What do you see?”

You need to give some details about what you see, what you think has happened, etc.

Try to be as clear and precise as you can in your description.

For example, if the examiner was about to close his eyes, he should be able to clearly understand what’s going on, according to your description.

If you make your own interpretation of the situation, it’s fine, what’s important is that you’re able to describe it with a good vocabulary.

2. Phone conversation simulation

Then, according to the situation and the image, you’ll simulate a telephone conversation with the examiner E1.

Here, you either have to fix, move/reschedule or cancel an appointment.

You’ll play the scene with the examiner, for example he/she is the person picking up the phone and you’re the one who needs to do something (fix, move or cancel the appointment).

This part is useful so the examiner can see if you’re able to talk about your problem, understand the questions you’re asked and more generally handle a situation that happens daily.

3. Discussion about a topic related to the situation of the image

It’s now time to discuss a topic. You’ll have to answer targeted questions on the same theme as the picture. In general, a question about what you like (e.g. “do you like cycling? yes or no and why?”), a question about a past experience (e.g. “have you ever had a cycling accident, what happened?”) and a question about a procedure to be described (e.g. “if there is an accident on the road, what do you do?”).

The first exercise of the oral fide test will always be like that (3 tasks to accomplish about the image), only the image will change, but it will always be in the official scope of subjects covered by the fide test (which will be the subject of another blog post).

Moving to a different language level

When the A2 exercise is over, the examiner usually has a clear idea of the level of the student.

He/she will then offer to pursue the A1 level or B1 level.

The student can choose, and students usually choose to follow the recommendation of the examiner. So whether you continue with the A1 level or the B1 level you can in both cases obtain the A2 level.

If you don’t agree with the E1’s recommendation, the test will continue with the level you wish, but you’ll have to sign a statement confirming that this is the case.

Please note that this choice will also be valid for the “Understanding” part.

Keep in mind that a candidate who passes the A1 level very well will obtain an A2 level, and a candidate who has passed the B1 level but who does not quite have the B1 level will obtain the A2 level.

The A1 level "speaking" test

If you continue with A1 level, you’ll have the same kind of exercise as previously.

Here is a series of sketches, without any text, where the student has to describe the images, who the persons are, where are they and what's happening on the images.

The second exercise consists of creating a dialogue.

For example, the first person says hello what can I do for you? and you have to say what the other person replies to.

Series of sketches, without any text, where you have to think of a dialogue

The B1 level “speaking” test

With the B1 level, the exercise is quite different.

You will not have any pictures but you’ll have the choice between 2 subjects, and you’ll have to answer questions on the chosen one.

The aim is for you to talk about what you like, what you don’t like, but also to identify the pros and cons of a situation, as well as talking about an experience and a conditional question like “what would YOU do”.

Experiences, processes and steps, comparison and opinion expressing: all of these are B1 level goals.

Example of subjects and questions:

- Hometown (“commune de domicile” in French)

  • In which city do you live? What do you like and what do you dislike about it? What do you like and dislike about your community?

  • What did you have to do when you arrived in your city?

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of small and large cities?

  • If you were mayor/manager/president of a city, what would you change in your city?"

- Work

  • What work experiences have you had?

  • What exactly did you do in your last job?

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of working in Switzerland?

  • Would you make a good manager/boss? Why?

And… here you go: this is the end of the first part of the fide test.

Now that you’ve spoken (for about 20 minutes), it’s time for the examiners to see how much you understand. Let’s do this!

Part 2 of the oral fide test: understanding

Follow the examiner or another person from the exam center.

You’ll arrive in another room, with a computer and speakers.

According to the level of your second speaking exercise, you have to do an exercise from the same level for the understanding part, you can not change.

  • If you did B1 after the A2 exercise, you have to do B1/A2 for understanding also.

  • If you did A1 after A2, then it’s A1/A2 also for the understanding part.

The A1 and A2 levels "understanding" test

For the understanding part: you have a scenario of a situation and then a question with 3 possible answers, a, b, or c.

You’ll actually be introduced to 2 situations by level.

For each situation, there are:

  • 3 questions

  • 3 audio texts

  • 3 possible answers that you have in the form of drawings and only one answer is correct (a, b or c),

That’s a total of 6 questions per level.

EXCLUSIVE tips -- you can have these type of questions:

  • What should Mister Bauman do?

  • How much does it cost?

  • What time is the meeting scheduled?

  • What is the direction to go to this place?

First of all, please be reassured: you can listen to the audio twice if you need.

Also, you’re allowed to take notes while listening to audio and questions.

The examiner explains the situation and asks you a question.

Then the audio is launched, listen to it carefully.

And then, the question is asked again.

To answer, you have to show which image (out of 3) is the correct answer to the question, but you can also say out loud “a”, “b” or “c”, or even if you want, explain which image matches the question. For example, for the question “how many people go to the pool?”, you can have these types of drawings to answer;

Choose the answer you think matches the question about the audio you’ve just listened to.

Good to know: the understanding part is the same for A1 and A2, only the audios are slightly a bit longer and/or quickly spoken than A1’s audios.

The B1 level "understanding" test

For this level of the understanding test, there is still a situation with a question. But unlike the A1 and A2 exercises you don’t have several choice answers, you’ll have to answer with your own words.

Here is how it goes:

  • The examiner explains the situation ;

  • He/she asks a question ;

  • He/she launches the audio ;

  • He/she asks the question again ;

  • You have to answer in your own words.

You also can listen to the audio twice.

As for the A1 and A2 levels, you’ll have to answer 6 questions.

Rating scale

How the examiners count the points of the student, that’s not really clear and it is not officially published.

But we know the percentage needed to pass the test, and we know ⅔ of the rating depends on the speaking part, while ⅓ of the rating is based on the understanding part.

They’re as follow:


  • <A1 : 0 - 25%

  • A1 : 26 - 64%

  • A2 : 65 - 100%


  • <A2 : 0 - 42%

  • A2 : 43 - 78%

  • B2 : 79 - 100%

Specific info regarding Covid

Please note that, as for now, people are requested to wear a surgical mask. The examiners will wear one, same for you.

This can change following the latest government restrictions.

Also, normally you don’t write on the document as they’re subject to other uses.

I hope these specific explanations on the oral part of the fide test are helpful. If you have any further questions or need help to get ready to take the test, the whole BCAD team is at your service!

A bientôt !

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