In part 1, you are asked to summarise a number of documents (2 or 3) totalling approximately 1,000 words, in about 220 words and it is worth 13 points.

You may have a better idea of the distribution of the points by checking the grid p 4/5 in the section Corrigé et Barème/ Production Ecrite/Synthèse de Documents of the following link:

Examples of DALF writing tests


Firstly, it is important not to make a summary of each text but to find the common ideas of the texts and formulate them with your own words in a logical order.

Secondly, it is important that you not introduce any new material into your synthesis as you present the facts or ideas in an objective manner.




To begin, I recommend that you read the documents twice.


Stage 1: Scanning and Identifying the key  issue


On the first reading you need to identify:

 The nature of the texts (most documents come from newspapers and magazine articles, but they may also come from web sites or book extracts).

•  The type (comparative, informative or argumentative)

•  The sources (the author, the date and the title).


Furthermore, you need to find a common theme in the texts and identify the main issue.


Stage 2: Shuffling and Compressing


On the second reading:

 Identify the primary points in each document. While reading, you may want to underline the different key points in different colours.

•   Make an analysis to establish what they have in common.  

•   From your notes, find two or three secondary points or elements which are linked to the main question and organise them in two or three parts.


Be careful!  You will not have sufficient time to write a full draft (except maybe for the introduction) and draft papers will be neither corrected nor marked. Therefore, it makes sense to make a plan including your main ideas in each part.


Stage 3: Writing up


As mentioned in the introduction to DALF examination, three elements have to be found in your synthesis:

•  organisational patterns

•  connectors

•  cohesive devices


When it is time to write, you must start with the introduction of the documents (quoting the sources) and the raised issue.

After that, you will write the different points in order, clearly showing the paragraphs. It is essential to use logical connectors to link the paragraphs such as cependant, de surcroît, en outre, certes...

The examples found in the documents must not be used in your synthesis.


Stage 4: Reading one last time


15 minutes should be reserved for the reading of your paper. 5 minutes at the end of each part and 5 minutes at the very end.

The advantage of reading your whole work at the very end is that you have more perspective on what you have written and consequently you pick up mistakes you have not seen previously.

Do not forget to count your words and remember not to write more or less than required as you will be penalised for doing so.