The OQLF & Your Professional Career in Quebec


Planning For Your Professional Career – The OQLF French Language Examination

It’s important to look ahead. For many people in Québec, working in their career of choice goes hand in hand with membership in a professional order. That rule applies to new graduates, more experienced workers as well as newcomers bringing their valuable skills to the province.

If upon graduation, you hope to begin a career that calls for membership in one of Québec’s many professional orders, you must meet set criteria related to your knowledge of French, Québec’s official language. It’s important to note that the criteria cover both spoken and written French language communication skills.

The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF), through its Charter of the French Language, clarifies these criteria in Articles 35 and 36. It’s important to know what the articles address.

Where Do You Stand?

Article 35 states that professional orders may provide permits only to those who have the appropriate knowledge of French to carry out their profession. Within Québec, a large number of professional orders serve as regulatory bodies for members of specific professions. An order will consider that you have appropriate knowledge if you:

  • Followed, on a full-time basis, a minimum of three years education at the secondary or post-secondary level in French.
  • or

  • Passed French (mother tongue) examinations at the 4th or 5th year secondary level.
  • or

  • Obtained a Québec secondary school diploma (SSD) as of the 1985-1986 academic year.
  • or

  • Hold an equivalent certificate for comparative studies done outside Québec, as defined by the regulation.

So, You Meet Article 35’s Criteria

If you clearly meet Article 35’s criteria, a professional order will consider your knowledge of French to be appropriate at the time you apply for membership. You will not be required to take a French language examination to become a member.

So, You Don’t Meet Article 35’s Criteria, Then What?

In other cases, where you do not meet Article 35 criteria, (e.g., you studied outside Québec) your knowledge of French must be evaluated through a French language examination. The professional order you wish to join can help coordinate this step when you apply for membership.

However, according to Article 36, if you are a student registered with an educational institution and “plan to obtain a diploma that qualifies you to practice a profession”, you may choose to prove your ability to communicate appropriately in French in the two years preceding your graduation. Your educational institution can help coordinate this step. It does not, however, coordinate the steps leading to obtaining a temporary permit.

Who Offers the Examination?

The Service de l’évaluation du français pour les ordres professionnels (SEFOP):

  • Issues French language examinations to those who wish to become members of a professional order.
  • Analyses requests for renewal of ˝temporary permits˝ issued by professional orders (as per Article 37). They are issued to those with a diploma from outside Québec who are capable of working in their profession, but who don’t meet Article 35 criteria.
    • This temporary permit is valid for one year and can be renewed three times.
    • The OQLF may authorise renewal if warranted for public good.
    • The French examination may be taken within the first year of having the permit.

The OQLF Examination…What’s It All About?

The OQLF French language examination is made up of four sections that test the level of your oral and written comprehension and expression. The degree of difficulty in each section varies based on the level of education required to carry out the profession.

Oral Comprehension

This oral comprehension section of the examination presents 40 short dialogues on general topics related to daily life. It involves:

  • An audio clip that is played once only.
  • Multiple-choice questions.
  • The examination lasts one hour.
  • No tools are permitted: (e.g. dictionary, iPad, etc.).

Evaluation Criteria
A passing grade of 60% is determined based on the number of multiple choice questions answered correctly.

Written Comprehension

This written comprehension section of the examination presents texts related to the general area of training. It also involves:

  • A couple of texts, about 1,500 words
  • 20 multiple-choice questions.
  • The examination lasts one hour.
  • No tools are permitted (e.g., dictionary, iPad, etc.)

Evaluation Criteria
A passing grade of 60% is determined based on the number of multiple choice questions answered correctly.

Written Expression

This written expression section of the examination presents various kinds of texts (letter, resolution of a problem, etc.) related to actual work situations.

  • Length: 80-100 words (secondary level); 160-200 words (college level); 200-250 words (university level).
  • The examination lasts one hour.
  • No tools are permitted (e.g., no dictionary, iPad, etc.)
  • The examination is written by hand.

Evaluation Criteria
A passing grade of 60% is determined based on:

  • Respect for the instructions (e.g., number of words)
  • Relevance of your answers
  • Vocabulary
  • Clarity and style
  • Agreement of grammatical elements
  • Syntax
  • Spelling

Oral Expression

This section of the examination involves an informal interview about your profession with an evaluator. It includes:

  • Questions on your profession, such as tasks, work experience, etc.
  • The interview will last 10 to 15 minutes.
  • The interview is recorded.
  • No tools are permitted: (e.g., no dictionary, iPad, etc.)

Evaluation Criteria
A passing grade of 60% is determined based on:

  • How well you understand the questions
  • Relevance of your answers
  • Autonomy
  • Flow of conversation
  • Pronunciation
  • Vocabulary
  • Verb conjugation
  • Agreement of grammatical elements
  • Syntax

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register for the examination?

If you have made a request to join a professional order, they may provide you with a registration form for the OQLF examination. The order will send the completed form to the OQLF.

The OQLF will then invite all registrants to an examination session. The examination session is usually held one to two months following receipt of the registration form.

Office québécois de la langue française

Service de l’évaluation du français pour les ordres professionnels (SEFOP)
500, place d’Armes
19e étage, bureau 1925
Montréal (Québec)  H2Y 2W3

Office Hours:   8:30 to 12:00, 13:00 to 16:30
Telephone:  514-873-4734
1-888 873-6202 (toll free line within Québec)

How long does the examination last?

The examination takes about three and a half hours.

What is the pass mark?

The pass mark for each section of the examination is 60%

When do I get the results?

The OQLF sends the results to the registrant and the professional order within two weeks of the examination completion.

What happens if I fail?

If you fail the examination, in the month following receipt of the results, you may make a request in writing to the OQLF that it review the results. The OQLF will review the examination and give a decision within two weeks of receiving the written request.

As well, you may retake the sections of the examination you failed as many times as you wish, with a three month wait time between each try.

More Questions?

Where do I take the examination? How much does it cost? Do you have more questions?

Pay a visit to the OQLF website for answers to any questions you may have about the examination.

Last Modified: November 30, 2016