TOCFL - Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language

Taiwan's Standardized Proficiency Test

Mixed race student looking at notebook with friend
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TOCFL stands for "Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language," obviously meant to be associated with TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and is the standardized Mandarin proficiency exam in Taiwan.

The Mainland Chinese counterpart is the HSK (Hànyǔ Shuǐpíng Kǎoshì). TOCFL is arranged by the Ministry of Education and held regularly both in Taiwan and abroad. The exam was previously known as TOP (Test of Proficiency).

Six Levels of Proficiency

Just like the HSK, TOCFL consists of six levels, although the final level is still under development. What these levels mean exactly depends on whom you're asking, but let's look at a quick overview:

TOCFL levelTOCFL nameCEFR HSK level*
1入門級A1 3
2基礎級A2 4
3進階級B1 5
4高階級B2 6
5流利級C1  
6精通級C2  

*Comparing proficiency exams is notoriously difficult, but this assessment made by Fachverbands Chinesisch, a German association for teaching and promoting the Chinese language. There is no official HSK to CEFR conversion table (there was, but it was retracted after being criticized as too optimistic).

Even though there are six distinct levels, there are actually only three tests (bands): A, B, and C. That means that you can achieve levels 1 and 2 on the same test (band A), depending on your final score, levels 3 and 4 on the same test (band B), and levels 5 and 6 on the same test (band C).

The tests are structured so that they become gradually more difficult, allowing for a wider span of difficulty for each test. In order to pass a certain level, you not only need to reach a certain total score, you also have to meet certain minimum requirements for each separate parts. Thus, you won't pass if your reading ability is lousy, even if your listening ability is stellar.

Resources

  • Official TOCFL websiteThis is where you go for basic information about test locations and dates, as well as any other kind of official information. You can also sign up for exams here, both in Taiwan and abroad.
  • TOCFL mock exams - There is one mock exam for listening and one for reading. In comparison with HSK, this isn't much, so if you want more, we suggest you check the resources for HSK and use the table in this article to figure out roughly what level you should aim for.