If you know the Chinese language or have been studying for a while, you might know the HSK exam. This is not surprising, as it is the most popular Mandarin test.
But are you aware of another Chinese test, i.e., TOCFL?
Is there any advantage? How do I apply? What are test centers, dates, fees, question format, and exam structure? How to prepare?
Everything you need and want to learn about the Mandarin TOCFL test is here. So let’s begin!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What is the TOCFL test?
- Benefits of the Mandarin TOCFL
- All About the TOCFL test
- How do you apply?
- How to prepare?
- Should you take the Chinese TOCFL?
What is the TOCFL test?
The TOCFL, or Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language, is a standardized Mandarin exam administered by Taiwan, i.e., the Republic of China (ROC).
It aims to develop and establish an effective Chinese assessment system. The exam assesses the Mandarin proficiency of non-native speakers and overseas Chinese worldwide.
Therefore, anyone who is not a legal Taiwanese citizen can take the test to find their Chinese ability.
Who conducts the exam?
The Steering Committee for the Test Of Proficiency-Huayu (SC-TOP) oversees the exam.
It is part of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China.
When it started in 2005, it was called TOP, which stands for Test Of Proficiency-Huayu. They released a new version in 2013.
International recognition of TOCFL
The Taiwanese government acknowledges TOCFL as proof of the Chinese language.
Thus, all universities, academic institutions, foreign organizations, and government agencies in Taiwan accept the test.
Over 100 educational and business organizations in Australia, South Korea, Switzerland, Japan, Indonesia, the USA, Thailand, Vietnam, etc., use it to determine a student’s Chinese proficiency.
Companies are seeking Chinese-speaking employees for Chinese-speaking jobs. And they take the TOCFL scores into account. In recent years, the reputation has improved considerably.
It is important to remember that this certificate isn’t recognized in mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau.
You need to take the HSK in these places. And it is also unavailable and not supported in Taiwan.
Benefits of the Mandarin TOCFL
There are many benefits associated with the TOCFL test.
It is official proof of Chinese language ability. So, it serves as a Mandarin proficiency credential accepted globally, except in a few countries.
Do you want to study in Taiwan?
Most Taiwanese colleges and universities ask for a TOCFL certificate for admission to undergraduate and postgraduate programs. It gives you a much-needed edge when you apply for a Taiwanese scholarship.
It proves beneficial for overseas Chinese seeking admission through the University Entrance Committee for Overseas Chinese Students (UECOCS).
If you want to find jobs requiring Chinese, this can add excellent value to your resume. Also, it helps if you intend to do business with a Mandarin-speaking population.
Most companies, including international businesses, in Taiwan and elsewhere, require it to measure a candidate’s proficiency in Mandarin. And thus, they also refer to the TOCFL certificate when recruiting.
Overseas Chinese and foreign students who want to remain in Taiwan to work will receive bonus points under the new appraisal system. There are also opportunities for teaching English.
The TOCFL test has a similar format to the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi. As a result, this is one of the best ways to prepare for HSK.
Do you wish to know how good you are at Mandarin?
You can find out through this test. Also, you will get a better idea of your weaknesses. You can then prepare for your next exam more effectively.
All About the TOCFL test
Let’s find out everything about the test.
There are three types of TOCFL exams.
The exam comprises 3 categories: listening & reading, writing, and speaking. To sum up, it covers all 4 vital aspects of a language.
When registering, you can pick either simplified or traditional characters. This is another incentive for this test.
The TOCFL tests are computer-based. Likewise, the writing part is done on a computer. Thus, Mandarin typing ability (ㄅㄆㄇㄈ or Microsoft Pinyin) is a need for all test takers.
How many levels are there?
TOCFL has four test bands: Novice (Pre-Beginners), Band A (Beginner), Band B (Intermediate), and Band C (Advanced).
Further, each band is divided into two sublevels. This means that there are eight levels altogether.
The hardest is level 8, while the easiest is level 1.
According to them, it follows CEFR guidelines. For instance, levels 1 and 2 are like A1 and A2, while 3 and 4 are B1 and B2. Levels 5 and 6 are like C1 and C2.
Those who pass the Chinese TOCFL test and meet the level requirements will receive a certificate.
You can find the 2023 test format and guidelines on the official site. Plus, it has information on writing, listening, reading, speaking, speedy screenings, and novice tests.
(ii) Children’s Certification (CCCC)
The Children’s Chinese Competency Certification (CCCC) exam is available for children aged 7-12. This is a standard test to assess Chinese ability among young learners.
They have developed the CCCC to teach cognitive and linguistic parts to children. The topics include day-to-day activities, hobbies, and a basic understanding of Mandarin.
This test is a way to encourage them to continue their study of the Chinese language in the future.
The exam has three levels: Sprouting, Seedling, and Blossoming. It takes 40, 50, and 60 minutes to complete. Plus, it only covers reading and listening.
(iii) Computerized Adaptive Test
Reading and listening are the two sections of the TOCFL Computerized Adaptive Test (CAT).
The CAT concept is based on the Rasch model and Item Response Theory (ITR). Based on the previous response, the computer determines the next question.
Since questions focus on your abilities, the results are more accurate.
On a scale of 0 to 100, you will receive a grade for this multilevel Chinese test. You won’t pass or fail; instead, you will know your precise level.
The validity of the TOCFL score
In contrast to HSK, the valid period for the TOCFL certificate is 3 years. Once the validity expires, you have to retake it to count officially.
This is similar to Korean TOPIK, Spanish SIELE, and French TEF — all expire within a few years.
Test centers across the world
Other than Taiwan, they have also organized the SC-TOP test in many countries since 2006.
There are fewer centers for the SC-TOP test than for HSK. But, they continue to add new exam centers in various locations.
According to SC-TOP’s official website, there are 37 test centers across 27 countries (January 2023). Plus, they also organize the exam at 21 centers in Taiwan. Here is the list.
- Asia Pacific — Japan (Tokyo, Osaka), Indonesia (Jakarta), Australia (Canberra), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), India (Delhi), South Korea (Seoul), Thailand (Bangkok), Vietnam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City).
- North America — USA (Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Houston), and Canada (Ottawa, Vancouver).
- Central and South America — Panama, Paraguay, and Nicaragua,
- Europe — Austria (Vienna), Belgium (Brussels), UK (London), France (Paris), Poland (Warsaw), Russia (Moscow), Sweden (Stockholm), Germany (Berlin), Switzerland (Berne), Slovenia, and Luxembourg.
- Africa — Burkina Faso.
2023 TOCFL Test Dates
The dates differ by country. Usually, they hold the test 4 to 8 times annually. For example, they conduct TOCFL in India four times per year.
The dates may vary depending on the country; not all are available at each center. Visit the country-specific website for more information.
What is the cost?
The registration fee depends on the country where you register.
In India, the price is INR 2,000, whereas in Australia, it is AUD 45. Costs are the same at each level.
If you need some help, please get in touch with a local test center.
How do you apply?
The test-takers must choose a level according to their current proficiency in Chinese.
Taiwan’s residents can apply online through the website.
The procedure varies from country to country, so check the specific website.
In most cases, you must make the payment and send the scanned form to the official email address by the deadline.
How to prepare?
Chinese is a complex language. Thus, it would help you if you enroll in regular Mandarin classes in your city. Or, search for a tutor who can teach you face-to-face, offline or online.
It is tough to purchase TOCFL books outside of Taiwan. Still, you can try to buy on online shopping sites or those who dispatch the books to your location.
On the TOCFL site, you can buy books, mock test sets, and other learning materials. There is also online course content and free mock tests. All these can help you prepare for the test.
Further, the website has valuable resources for academics, teachers, and learners. Here is the list.
- Teaching Resources — LINK
- Recommended Books — LINK
- Content and Study Materials — LINK
- Forms, Downloads, and References — LINK
Should you take the Chinese TOCFL?
If you are learning Chinese, you will surely want to check your level and progress. If you are preparing for HSK, this is a superb choice.
You need a globally recognized and authentic certificate of proficiency to apply for a work or study visa in Taiwan.
Perhaps you want to develop your Mandarin skills to advance your career. That way, you can show your ability to potential employers.
No matter your reasons for studying Chinese, the TOCFL test is an excellent tool to get an edge over your competition.
This is an excellent effort to encourage you to succeed personally, professionally, and academically.
Do you have any questions or anything you would like to talk about? Write in the comment below.