The TOCFL (Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language test) is the national test of Taiwan to evaluate the expertise of the Chinese language in non-native speakers. Tests can be taken either in person or online, although not all tests are currently offered online. The National Taiwan Normal University oversees the test and offers valid certification on passing it.
TOCFL Test Levels
TOCFL tests consist of 3 types: TOCFL Listening and Reading, TOCFL Speaking, and TOCFL Writing. To address the high demand of foreign Chinese learners, the SC-TOP unveiled the overseas TOCFL Listening and Reading test facilities in 2006. In 2018, the testing services were made available in over 40 countries, including Taiwan. Since then, the test programs have been widely accessible in 40 countries, with over 500,000 people taking the test, including over 6,000 people participating from Southern California.
The TOCFL has 4 proficiency bands in the latest iteration: Novice, Band A, Band B, and Band C. Each of the bands is split into two tiers, for a total of six: Levels 1 through Level 6. The previous version of the TOCFL test (the one prior to 2013) had only 5 levels.
Test takers can select the tier that best matches their Chinese language proficiency and learning experience. There is also a new level added known as the TOFCL Novice band level.
Let’s break down the different levels.
- Band Novice: Candidates that have undergone 60-240 hours of Chinese courses in non-Chinese speaking countries. They can also be people who have acquired a vocabulary base of 300 words. They have to answer 25 questions in 25 minutes
- Band A: The test takers that have taken 240-720 hours of Chinese courses in non-Chinese speaking countries, or they have a vocabulary base of around 500-1,000 words. They would face 100 questions to answer within 120 minutes
- Band B: This level is for people who have undergone 720-1,920 hours of Chinese courses in non-Chinese speaking countries, or they can also have a vocabulary base of 2,500-5,000 words. People from this level are capable of using Mandarin in their daily conversations. Their test would consist of 100 questions in 120 minutes as well
- Band C: These candidates must have at least 1,920 hours of Chinese courses in non-Chinese speaking countries under their belt, or their vocabulary base should consist of around 8,000 words. Their test would also include 100 questions answered within 120 minutes
|Test Level||Suggested Hours||Vocabulary|
|Novice||60-240 hours||300 words|
|Level 1||240-480 hours||500 words|
|Level 2||480-720 hours||1,000 words|
|Level 3||720-960 hours||2,500 words|
|Level 4||960-1,920 hours||5,000 words|
|Level 5||1,920-3,849 hours||8,000 words|
|Level 6||More than 3,840 hours||8,000 words|
The tests are designed in such a way that they eventually get more challenging, allowing for a wider range of complexity for each test. To pass a standard, you must not only obtain a certain total point, but you must also fulfill certain minimum criteria for each particular element. As a result, even though your hearing capacity is excellent, you can not pass if your reading ability is poor.
How to Sign Up for the TOCFL Test?
Tests can be implemented using remote monitoring techniques through cloud-based testing. Only the Band A and Band B parts of the TOCFL tests are available at the moment. The standard rate for all regions is set at NT$3,000 (estimated US$108 subject to exchange rate). The test dates and times will be determined through Taiwan’s time zone. The average duration of the Listening and Reading Test is two hours.
You need to complete the application form of TOCFL Home Edition (fill-out the form here) along with the Test Taker Agreement form. Then you need to send your attachments to the email address of the Steering Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please ensure that your computer software and hardware follow all specifications in compliance before registering for the exam. Test fees will not be reimbursed once you have enrolled. You can only use credit cards as a payment option.
Once payment is made, they will provide testing updates by email, which will include test information, test rules, and things that need attention.
25 days after the test, the Committee will send the score report and certificate via mail to your mailing address.
|Overseas postage to Asia||NT$300 (EMS), NT$500 (DHL)|
|Overseas postage to Europe, North America, and Oceania||NT$500 (EMS), NT$1000 (DHL)|
|Overseas postage to Central America, Africa, and other areas||NT$600 (EMS), NT$1900 (DHL)|
|TOCFL Home Edition Rescoring Request||NT$250 for each level|
|Issuing Additional Score Report||NT$250 for each copy|
Note: A flat fee for postage would be charged regardless of how many copies of the papers are distributed at any given time.
Precautions before the test
- At first, you need to have a desktop or laptop for taking the test. You cannot use any smartphone, tablet, or other mobile devices
- Your computer or Mac should have Windows 10 or above operating systems
- The internet speed should be stellar (at least 100kbps)
- Your screen resolution should be at least 1366×768
- You should have a clear microphone to communicate with the test proctor
- Both internal and external web cameras can be used for the test process
- The web cameras should be rotatable at 360 degrees so the proctor can inspect your surroundings as needed
The examinees are solely responsible for any delay, blurry images, unclear voices, and other problems. Make sure you follow all the requirements above before sitting down for your TOCFL test.
The test should be done by the participant in a safe, closed space with no distractions. No one else can enter the room except the actual test taker. You should have a standard desk and chair to give the test from. You can also have a whiteboard in the room for the listening test.
The computer, keyboard, and test-taking supplies must be arranged on the table surface. Please do not add anything else on the table surface that is not relevant to the exam.
Regulations to Follow
The Committee would use the registration system to gather your identifying, personal data, such as full name, photo, ID, and so on, for the purposes of certification authentication, test-taker management, test agreement, business correspondence, test procedure notices, fee collection, printing score reports and certificates of achievement, and so on.
To ensure test consistency and impartiality, the proctor will use your web camera before the test to inspect your ears, neck, wrists, and whiteboard, among other items. Furthermore, they will use the web camera to track the image, sound, and so on during the test.
Mobile phone use is forbidden during the test. Smartphones must be switched off and all alarms must be turned off in front of the camera. You need to put your mobile phone on the table surface so that the test proctor can see it. If the test taker’s phone starts ringing or vibrates during the exam, his or her score will be reduced to 0 points.
Things to Avoid
You are not allowed to eat, drink, or use the bathroom during the examination. No one else is permitted to access the testing area.
To follow the criteria of the Listening Exam, only the whiteboard can be used for note-taking during the examination; notes cannot be written down. After the exam, you must erase all notes from the whiteboard under the guidance of the online proctor.
If it is found that any individual is trying to impersonate or substituting for the test taker, both the test taker and the impersonator will have all test certificates withdrawn and will be ineligible to apply for any TOCFL exams for the next two years.
Using audio, sound recording, photography, video recording, or any other means to copy test material is specifically forbidden during the test. If there are any violations, all exam certificates will be revoked, and you will be unable to apply for any TOCFL exams for the next two years.
If a test taker cheats, breaks certain rules or fails to obey the test proctor’s orders, the test proctor has the right to withdraw the test taker’s test qualifications.
During the exam, please follow the test proctor’s guidance if there are any internet connectivity interruptions, device glitches, or incorrect test activity that results in questions not showing entirely, the machine freezing, or signing out. When the issue is resolved, the test taker will be able to log in again with their own test username and automatically resume their previous test progress without changing their final test score. All of these interruptions can not be used to order re-testing, a cost refund, indemnity, or reimbursement, or to make any other demands or assertions to the Committee or the test proctor.
Note: If you have applied to take TOCFL Home Edition, you cannot apply for re-testing for one year following the test.
What Happens on the Day of the Test?
The online examination proctor will check, one by one, that all things on the Pre-Test Inspection Forms have been completed.
During the test, Team Viewer (https://www.teamviewer.com/) would be used.
You need to be online at the time listed and follow all applicable research operation updates. The evaluation proctor can remotely check the computer equipment using the Team Viewer account password you have. If the test taker is unable to link to the internet for more than 10 minutes after the scheduled start period, this testing attempt would be deemed a failure.
They will be doing a geographic location check, so make sure you have Google Maps open and the location access turned on.
The proctor would also be doing an inspection of your web camera, your headphones, microphones, and internet connection. Make sure you have turned off all unnecessary browsers and applications on your computer prior to the exam.
To take the exam, you need to bring your original passport or ID. The name of the examinee will be checked by the online test proctor. In addition, the proctor will instruct the examinee to turn each ear and the back of the ear against the camera lens. Earrings are not permitted to be worn by test takers.
The proctor will then instruct you to bring all sets of hands and wrists up to the camera scope. You are not allowed to wear watches or bracelets on your wrists. In order to detect anomalies, the proctor will then ask you to keep the glasses up to the camera window.
The online test proctor would ask you to complete a full circle across the room with the lens. The frame must include the floor and tabletop.
The proctor would then advise you to turn off mobile phones, electronic watches, and other electronics in front of the camera lens and position them in a spot that you won’t be able to reach but the proctor will be able to see. Objects unrelated to the test are not permitted to be mounted on the test table.
The proctor will look over your whiteboard and whiteboard markers. The whiteboard surface should be absolutely blank.
If the proctor has any questions regarding any of the above, the proctor will specifically ask the examinee to make adjustments by written text message or the microphone. The test will only commence after the examinee has completely cooperated in order to proceed.
The online proctor will give you the testing web address as well as an account username and password. To participate in the exam, please follow their guidelines. Video recording would be used to track the whole procedure during the evaluation. All test rules must be followed by examinees.
During the exam, the test taker is liable for any personal conditions that prevent them from completing the test. The Committee will not offer more time or makeup checks, nor will it refund evaluation fees.
If the internet connection is lost for more than 15 minutes during the test, you can arrange one free supplementary makeup test. There will be a maximum of one makeup test per person.
When the test is completed, the monitor will show the test results and levels attained. Examinees are not allowed to save these results using screenshots or mobile phone images of the monitor.
Inspections after the Test
The whiteboard will be inspected once more by the online proctor. Make sure you wipe the whiteboard surface clean of all notes. If examinees do not obey these guidelines, their score would be reduced to zero.
The test proctor would use Team Viewer to see if the test taker’s machine has any stored screenshot, sound recording, video recording, or other test-related files. If any files are detected, the test taker’s score will be reduced to zero.
TOCFL test results are unusual. They use an 80 point scale, rather than the usual 100, and do not score based on the total number correct and incorrect but rather weigh each answer based on the difficulty of the quest. This means that you could pass with a lot of wrong answers if you got all the most most difficult questions right, or conversely, you could fail even if you got most of the questions right but failed all the difficult questions.
You can log in to the registration 20 days after conducting the test to look for the results. Just put in your username and password and you can access the results in no time.
|Test Level||Listening||Reading||Full Score|
If you are wondering what you would receive on passing the test, let us tell you.
- You would become eligible for scholarships sponsored by the Taiwan government (Taiwan Scholarship and Ministry of Education Huayu Enrichment Scholarship)
- You would be qualified for getting admissions in college or university programs right in Taiwan
- Your Chinese Proficiency Certificate would be proof for your job requirements that require Chinese language proficiency (Bilinguals, translators, interpreters, etc.)
- You would be qualified to provide an incentive to others that wish to learn Chinese
How to Prepare for the TOCFL Test?
Language skill testing is notoriously complex, but it can be beneficial. It’s challenging because it’s difficult to define language capacity and how to assess it. And if all factors could be calculated, the procedure would be time-consuming and costly.
Knowing how strong your Chinese is can prove to be important for a number of reasons. For example, you might be expected to show off your Chinese proficiency at a particular test in order to qualify for a job or a university program. Even if gaining a particular certification is not your primary objective, learning how strong your Chinese is will help you make decisions about what to learn after that and how to go about it.
This applies to skills as well, because if you feel you need to strengthen your grammar but your letters are fine, you can concentrate on tones. Furthermore, if you put in a lot of work to learn anything but subsequent research reveals that you aren’t progressing, you will need to look at alternative approaches.
Although you can make these choices based on gut instinct, it can be useful to attempt to ground your judgment in a more systematic structure.
Beyond the Test
One apparent risk in measuring your own Chinese level is that you focus your evaluation on a more arbitrary or limited description of mastery, such as that assessed by tests and ratings, rather than on real-world situations, proven results. Many Chinese university courses around the globe do not base grades on speaking skills or communication at all, and even though they do, written tests still account for the bulk of students’ grades.
You can manage many real-world scenarios in Chinese when failing your university course or scoring extremely low on proficiency tests like TOCFL if you are extremely good at speaking with a small number of words, understanding other people’s signs, and being a good communicator. But, it is also possible to receive a top score in the class and do exceptionally well on these proficiency assessments while also struggling with simple encounters with native speakers.
To ensure that you are not relying only on a limited range of skills advertised by a certain organization, analyze your abilities with real-world language experience. That is what will encourage you to converse with others, read novels, socialize with people, and watch TV shows.
TOCFL Listening and Reading is a perfect way to challenge yourself as a Chinese trainee while also testing your reading, listening, grammar, and vocabulary skills. Furthermore, it can be a strong proof of language skill for people who want to learn, serve, or do business in Chinese-speaking countries. Sign up for the test today and test out your Chinese skills!