More than a month ago, I finally took my DELF B2. I was not too sure if I was prepared enough for the higher DALF C1 and I had a lot of lingering self doubts. It has been more than a decade since I have last taken an objective-type French examination, and any type of certification won’t definitely come off as a walk in the park. So on that deadline for registering for the exam, I made a last minute decision to take it. I barely had two weeks to prepare myself for the 4-part exam, and I feverishly downloaded the book “Réussir le DELF B2“.
Honestly, I almost kicked myself for not deciding on this much earlier. I would have had more time to prepare but I could no longer wait for the next test schedule in May 2014. It was definitely now or never. I needed to get this exam over with and to stop stalling.
So from Sunday until Tuesday before the exam, I was just locked up in our apartment, trying to wrap my head around the amount of work I needed to do. From listening and writing comprehension, to written and oral production, I was very determined to jot down as many pointers as my shaking hands would allow me. I also had a stash of bread, junk food and four bottles of my ever-trusted Cobra Ginkgo Biloba. I cannot NOT pass the exam because it would be really humiliating if I were to fail.
Then on the day of the exam, I just had a good ‘ol breakfast (like I always do before a major exam), ran over my notes and strategized on what best to do confronted with a particular situation. As expected, the first part (listening comprehension) was a great pain in the eardrums. It was almost impossible to hear what the first and longer recording was exactly saying . I just threw all cautions to the wind and inferred the answer from the questions in the questionnaire — 17 or 18 points left to chance. I vowed to hate recorded telephone conversations from that day on. Then for the second and shorter recording, I made sure that I get as many correct answers as possible because it was a more audible file.
I was completely taken aback and disheartened, but I still had three more parts to work on. Besides, I needed to get started with the reading comprehension. There were two texts to work on; one of them was about a digital photography article, while the other one concerned elders looking for online connections with their old friends. The difficult task was managing your time between the two articles, and I have spent more than 30 minutes answering the questions for the first article. I had to rush reading and answering the second one because each parts were only given an hour each. If I were to spend 30 minutes for the second article, that would take away precious time to conceptualize and answer the written production part.
Then for the third part, we were given a specific situation — there was a festival of different cultures of the world in Paris and we had to write a letter to the city mayor proposing an outline of activities to showcase our home country’s culture. This is where one’s imagination must really fly, and I had to make sure I get names of Filipino artists right. I was lucky to have visited the National Museum last month with Mon, and I had a blast looking at oeuvres by Napoleon Abueva and Guillermo Tolentino. I worried after the exam, though, because I knew that I got a particular word wrong. LOL
A quick lunch back at the apartment and a quick rant/sharing with Mon, I found myself back in Alliance for the oral production part. I was just waiting in the lobby for almost 30 minutes, until one of the test-takers informed me that there was a waiting area upstairs. It meant that I was late for my schedule but another person fortunately took over my slot. The topic to work on could be anything and everything under the French sun and we were made to pick two pieces of paper, and decide within 3 minutes on which one to work on. Both of them fortunately, had something to do with demographic change and I retrieved information from my memory bank on facts about population ageing, its effects with the working population and family life, as well as connect it with the European crisis. Thank you graduate school! I think I could have done better with the structure of the sentences but I just hoped I got the message across.
Fast forward to 7 weeks after, I finally got an email, while Mon and I were eating lunch. I was too nervous to open it and Mon had to read it on my behalf. It had no results, though, as it just mentioned that the results were already availabel for claiming. We left the apartment 30 minutes earlier to drop by Alliance and waited for the receptionist to fumble over papers in a folder and look for my paper. In those 15 seconds, I had been self-debating “If I’d fail, should I be getting a letter instead?”, “Why are these all certificates I’m seeing, does it mean I passed?”, “Oh Lord, please let me pass and I will be good and I will work much harder for my French!” It was funny a sight. Then when the sheet was handed out to me, I zeroed in on each parts of the exam, and then the total score — I PASSED THE EXAM!
I immediately informed Mama and Ikle about the results, and it was some sort of a surprise. I felt really bad about the listening comprehension part but how my expectations were exceeded or bouleversés. I’m not complaining, though, and all that matters now is I have passed. Now I can finally include this important bit of information in my résumé, and hopefully it helps with the important job search. I have failed myself enough this year but anyway, we don’t always get it right the first time, right? =)