While CIEP has a great deal of information about their French language exams (including previously administered exams, some of which include audio) online, I don’t feel these materials give candidates a very clear sense of what is expected of them during the oral presentation at the B2 and C1 levels. I found the following accounts from successful candidates useful in my own preparation, since they made clear that the candidate was only expected to fill about 10-15 of the 30 minutes before the examiners would move on to questions.

[at HTLAL, see post by ‘fluve’]

Here is a detailed description for B2 as well:

One surprising discovery for me was the lack of uniformity in the delivery of diplomas. Some exam centers require successful candidates to pick up the diploma at the exam center while other centers will mail them. As the diplomas do not arrive until several weeks after the exam itself, this may be an important consideration for anyone who does not live in close proximity to an exam center.

[Post edited; new content in brackets]

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Thanks so much for these links. I am actually leaving for France to visit family in a couple days and I was putting together a book list. I’m looking at taking a C1 exam next summer.

So you just passed the exam? Other than the account about the retrieval of results, did you experience anything that the links did not cover in your taking of the test? Where did you take the exam?

The only place I’ve taken the exams is Alliance française in Pasadena, which not only mails diplomas but also tells candidates they can call up for their results a week after the test. I squeezed the B2 and C1 into the most recent session as I was under the mistaken impression that the results of the December exam wouldn’t come soon enough to apply to academic programs starting in 2014. Apparently, an attestation of the results for December candidates can be supplied quite quickly, well before the diploma arrives and in time to meet the new January application deadlines for foreign students.

My examiners did proceed somewhat differently from those described in the accounts linked above. I’m sure the questions started well before the halfway mark. I suppose this was easier to adjust to than it would have been had I been expecting inquisitive examiners and met determined silence instead.

It may be worth noting that once you have been herded into the exam chamber, there you are expected to remain until the proctor collects the papers at the conclusion of the test. You may not leave even if you have finished. (I think Nicole Cunningham alluded to this in her post about the C2.)

Finally, a French instructor in Spain decries the current system: