By Matthieu Nivard

The reading comprehension of Junior Certificate French Exam accounts for 31.25% of your overall grade. It is designed to test your ability to understand written French vocabulary – can you pick out the relevant information/word(s) in written pieces of varying length?

To help you revise efficiently here is a break-down of what to expect for each section.

The reading comprehension section consists of 9 parts. Although less predictable than the listening comprehension, there are some regular features.

The first question must be answered in French. It deals with signs so you should revise

  • shops and supermarket aisles (la boulangerie, la confiserie, produits laitiers, charcuterie…) ,
  • buildings (la mairie, le syndicat d’initiatives, la gendarmerie…)
  • directions and tourism-related signs (continuer tout droit, péage à 100 mètre, centre-ville…)

Recipes are commonly included so it is very important that you know vocabulary related to

  • food (un oignon, de la farine, de l’huile…)
  • and cooking instructions (coupez, lavez, épluchez, au four…)

There is always a multiple choice question. It must be answered in French. It can involve extracts from either:

  • a horoscope (questions about social life, health or personality),
  • a list of restaurants (vue sur le jardin, ouvert le dimanche, accueille les grands groupes…),
  • films (le film raconte l’histoire de, c’est un film triste…),
  • books (le livre parle de, l’histoire se passe en Afrique…),
  • a page from a TV guide (une série policière, une émission de sport…)
  • or a real estate brochure (grande maison avec jardin, vue sur la rivière, cuisine équipée…)


The other questions in the reading comprehension are extracts from newspapers, interviews, advertisements… They cover a wide range of vocabulary so, in order to maximise your grade, here is a check list of the topics you should revise:

Checklist reading compr


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To prepare for the Reading comprehension, you should try to

  • do as many past papers as you can
  • read in French as much as possible. Try for instance jde.fr which is a newspaper aimed at children. It is a great way to improve your vocabulary about the news and celebrities with its short, manageable news items.
  • change your phone/facebook… settings to French until the exam. Immerse yourself in the language as much as possible.


[Also read]: Preparing for the Junior Cert Listening Comprehension

[Also read]: Self -assessment check lists for the French Junior Certificate (informal and formal) letters

Matthieu Nivard ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Matthieu Nivard

Matthieu has two Masters Degrees from Université Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux III and taught in the linguistic Department in Bordeaux III. He later relocated to Denmark where he taught English and French in a Danish Folkeskole. He moved to Cork in 2007, and joined the team at Alliance Française de Cork as a French tutor, teaching second level, adults, children and training French teachers. Matthieu also works with Cork French Film Festival team during the week of CFFF, introducing films, interpreting and helping with Education Packs.