Assessment Report

Level 3 French 2021

Standards 91543  91546

Part A: Commentary


The themes addressed in the examination were of interest to candidates, as was shown by some very passionate and detailed responses.

Where an opinion was required, successful candidates carefully planned their responses to the points made and employed a systematic approach of addressing the key perspectives and then weaving in their conclusion, opinion, or explanation.

Candidates were successful when they ensured that their responses were supported by detailed references to the text, thereby demonstrating thorough knowledge of the language and acquaintance with elements of French understanding. Those who were less successful included irrelevant material and were distracted by prior knowledge and their own opinions or experiences. A full page or two of writing, where much of the response was not directly linked to the content of the text, did not meet the criteria for detailed or thorough understanding required for higher grades.

The discussion of implied meaning requires candidates to explain and clarify the meaning of the texts, not provide general knowledge about the subject being addressed. Candidates need to ensure that they remain focused on the content of the text and understand that they are being assessed on their ability to understand the French language and their ability to demonstrate that they have understood the meaning behind the words.

Candidates who made use of the listening boxes, read the questions thoroughly and organised their notes provided more structured responses. Candidates who used a system of colour coding notes with reference to different parts of the question provided organised responses, and by crossing out evidence that had already been added to their response, they ensured that no points were omitted.

Candidates who had full knowledge of the prescribed vocabulary lists were able to provide evidence of depth of understanding because they could adapt the meaning of words to the context. Candidates who based their understanding on one out-of-context meaning of a word were not able to show detailed understanding.

Part B: Report on standards

91543: Demonstrate understanding of a variety of extended spoken French texts


The examination included three questions, and candidates were required to answer all three. The questions and passages covered the requirements of the 2021 Assessment Specifications, which were to listen to spoken texts relating to matters of social interest and demonstrate understanding by responding to questions on the passages. The spoken passages covered different contexts and types: an advertisement, a podcast, and a report. Candidates were expected to make informed guesses about unfamiliar words using context and prior language knowledge.


Candidates should be encouraged to read their responses to make sure they make sense. In some cases, candidates translated words from the French, but the resulting output made little sense in English, such as reporting ‘on devrait garder un peu de bons sens’ as ‘it keeps the good sense’. Proof reading is essential to ensure that responses in English make sense. ‘Mal du siècle’ was poorly interpreted as a bad cycle of missing exercise.

Detailed reference to the text is essential for candidates to gain Merit and Excellence grades. In Question Three candidates were asked to listen to two opinions on appropriate clothing for school and decide whose view they supported. Candidates who strayed from the text, discussing their own school uniforms or opinions without demonstrating understanding of the arguments presented in the passage, did not meet the criteria to gain higher grades.

It is important that, when practising and learning vocabulary, candidates listen to similar sounding words and attempt to identify the difference between them, as there were examples of vocabulary being misunderstood by many candidates. The context in which the vocabulary is used should also be taken into account. For example, Manquez means miss, but in the passage it means lack; des jeux was confused with des jeunes; les ados was confused with les adultes; habiller was confused with habiter; toujours and tous les jours were confused.

Grade awarding 

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • understood the key ideas presented in the passages, but missed detail
  • displayed some knowledge of the required vocabulary, but linked ideas inconsistently, e.g. a variety of exercises for good health
  • did not display understanding of more complex language, but through the use of paraphrasing were able to communicate understanding of the gist
  • did not display understanding of detail, eg. it doesn't disrupt your daily routine, those who have missed physical activity
  • confused similar sounding vocabulary such as jeux / jeunes, adultes / ados
  • attempted explanations that were not relevant to the passage.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • structured an answer based on understanding only a few words
  • used common knowledge and their own opinions with very little
  • relied on words that sounded like English and translated them incorrectly e.g. restant – resting, l'aide – lead
  • connected ideas or words incorrectly because they lacked knowledge of key vocabulary
  • made listening notes but failed to transform these into a response.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • gave full, detailed responses with information relevant to the question
  • missed nuances in the language
  • selected material appropriate to the question and synthesised information and ideas to form a strong response, e.g. to make exercise part of your routine
  • confused some vocabulary items while still providing a relevant response
  • did not demonstrate understanding of more complex language structures such as en prévoyant une durée d'activitée limiteé

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:

  • demonstrated a command of vocabulary and structures at this level
  • integrated explanations and conclusions with evidence from the passage, e.g. textile waste equivalent to the weight of the Eiffel tower is destroyed each year, demonstrating why a circular economy is now a necessity not an option
  • provided articulate responses that clearly linked ideas presented in the passages with their own explanations, conclusions and / or interpretations of meaning
  • acknowledged different perspectives and linked ideas in the passages
  • addressed the question and structured their response, e.g. I believe Laurent’s argument is stronger because when asked about the values of the republic and their influence on what is worn, he gives clear examples of how studentss should respect and show these values.

91546: Demonstrate understanding of a variety of extended written and / or visual French texts


The examination covered the requirements of the Assessment Specifications for candidates to read and respond to three written texts representative of different text types. The examination comprised three questions, with each question relating to one text. Candidates were required to read the texts and answer all three questions. The texts related to a website, a blog post and a newspaper report.


Candidates who ensured that their responses were supported by detailed references to the text achieved higher grades than candidates who included irrelevant material.

Candidates who have a thorough knowledge of the prescribed vocabulary lists were able to provide evidence of depth of understanding. They were able to adapt the meaning of words to the context provided to give a much more accurate interpretation of the text.

Grade awarding 

Candidates who were awarded Achievement commonly:

  • chose some main points to write on and disregarded others
  • showed understanding of the gist or some of the gist of the text
  • misunderstood some information, but showed understanding of other principal points correctly
  • acknowledged the different perspectives found in the texts.

Candidates whose work was assessed as Not Achieved commonly:

  • translated parts of text that bore no relation to each other in meaning, thus providing nonsensical answers
  • omitted crucial text evidence
  • built an answer around a word or expression that had not been understood correctly.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:

  • noted many of the details in the texts
  • offered text evidence and then summarised information finally in their own paragraph, without saying anything overly different from what the text had already stated
  • referred to most points given in the text, even if some minor details were incorrect
  • used their own wording to synthesise ideas and information.

Candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly: 

  • paraphrased information and details from the text while inferring meaning in one or more places in their answer
  • reworded meaning in natural English, showing they had processed information and understood it thoroughly, while remaining true to the original French
  • referenced the question and text in their response, rather than transcribe from the text
  • sought meaning and showed insight that was not immediately obvious, without straying too far from the detail and meaning of the text
  • understood and supported or challenged perspectives in the texts.

French subject page

Previous years' reports
2020 (PDF, 325KB)

2019 (PDF, 261KB)

2018 (PDF, 149KB)

2017 (PDF, 46KB)

2016 (PDF, 218KB)

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