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A2 Key

9 key information to remember

The Key English Test (KET) is an elementary level English language exam. It is one in a series of English proficiency exams. The KET is controlled by Cambridge English and is known and well-regarded around the world. The KET corresponds to the CEFR A2 level. CEFR is the Common European Framework for Reference of Languages and provides a detailed description of what a person can do at each of its levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2). Successful completion of the KET proves your ability to use English to communicate in simple situations. The exam tests all four English language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Taking the KET can be a first step toward sitting for more demanding English proficiency exams.

It’s one thing to have a friend or family member comment on your English skills. Having an official assessment from a world leader in English language testing is much better. KET results will be an official recognition of your abilities and show that you can understand and use basic phrases and expressions, use simple written English, introduce yourself and answer basic questions about everyday matters.

Reasons to choose A2 Key:

  • Gain a valuable qualification that is accepted worldwide.
  • Improve your work, study and travel prospects.
  • Show that you have the basic language skills you need to communicate in English.

There are three sections to the KET exam. The exam is targeted at the A2 level of the CEFR. The KET provides a reliable assessment at the level above A2, which is the B1 and the level below, which is the A1.

You can see some of the details of the sections in the chart before.




Marks (% of total)

Reading and Writing

1 hour

7 parts/32 questions in total



30 minutes

5 parts/ 25 questions in total



8-10 minutes per pair of candidates

2 parts


The total time is close to 1 hour and forty minutes, so you will need to write some practice tests beforehand to get used to working in English continuously for that length of a time

Reading and Writing

This section shows that a person can understand simple written information such as signs, brochures, newspapers and magazines.


This requires that you are able to understand announcements and other spoken material when people speak reasonably slowly.


Shows you can take part in a conversation by answering and asking simple questions. The speaking test will be face to face with one or two other candidates and two examiners. The idea is to make your test more realistic and reliable.

You will receive a separate score for each section. That means you receive a reading and writing score, a listening score, and a speaking score. This will give you a very clear picture of your exam and your performance. The three scores are averaged in order to provide you with an overall exam result. This will be your Cambridge English Scale Score.

Also, each person receives a grade and a CEFR level. CEFR is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages; it’s a commonly used and well-known set of descriptions that are applied to language exams, books and materials.

Your results will appear in the official Statement of Results and look something like this

Cambridge English

Scale Score


CEFR Level











Level A1


Receiving your statement of results

All exam candidates will receive a Statement of Results. If you are successful on the exam, then you will receive a certificate, too.

You can view your Statement of Results online. Results will be available four to six weeks after the exam for paper-based exams. If you take the KET as a computer-based test, then your results will be available two to three weeks after your exam day.

If your score is 120 or higher, then you will receive a certificate that shows your level. Please note that scores between 100 and 119 are shown on your Statement of Results, but you will not receive a certificate.

Receiving the KET certificate

The certificate is sent to your exam centre about seven to nine weeks after the date of your exam (paper-based version) and five to six weeks after your exam date (computer-based version).

The exam centre sends it to you, or you can ask about picking it up from them. You would need to arrange the details of pick-up with your exam centre and not Cambridge English.

Reading and Writing

We mentioned in the structure of the test section that the KET reading and writing section uses simple written information such as signs, brochures, newspapers and magazines. If you want to do well in this section, then it’s a good idea to look at lots and lots of examples of signs and brochures and become familiar with the language and presentation of them.

Taking a look at newspaper and magazine articles (short ones, not long ones) helps, too.

Practice exams are very helpful because you can see what types of questions you will be asked about what you read.


To get ready and do well for the listening section, you need to be able to understand announcements and other types of spoken materials. However, don’t worry since the people will speak at a slower than average speed.

You can listen to plenty of examples on YouTube. Listen to each video repeatedly. Many students listen once or twice and then move on to the next practice item. It can take multiple encounters to really understand what is being said.

Also, become familiar with the language of announcements. Once again, practice exams and exercises are very useful for this.


You can watch some examples of the speaking section on YouTube. It’s a good way to find out what types of questions and activities that you will face. Also, you can hear how test candidates respond.

If you have a friend or older sibling who speaks English well, they can help you practice the speaking section, so you get to actually speak and not just listen.

A key thing for the speaking is don’t be shy. You will be with another test-taker and some people get nervous or worry that the other test-taker will be much better. It’s not a competition; you are trying to get the best score that you can.

We will help you understand what to do:

  • Choose your exam
    Cambridge English offers many different exams, so make sure you select the correct one. In this case, you want the KET.
  • Find an exam centre
    You need to locate an exam centre near you. Fortunately, there are over 2, 800 official exam centres in over 130 nations around the globe. You should be able to find a centre not too far from your location.
    Never go to an unofficial exam centre. If the location is not on the Cambridge English list, then it is probably not a recognized exam centre.
  • Book your exam
    When you find an exam centre, then you need to book an exam. There are exam dates throughout the year. You can choose between a computer or a paper-based exam although not all exam centres will offer both types. Also, when you book a time, make sure that you give yourself enough time to prepare for the exam.

How much will it cost me?

That’s a good question.

The cost of a Cambridge English exam will depend on the exam you want to take and where you take it. Currency differences and the local cost of living can affect the price of an exam.

You need to find out the price at your chosen exam centre. There should be no hidden or extra fees, only the fee for sitting for the exam.

There are loads and loads of resources for the Cambridge Key English Test. The important thing is to find materials that you understand and like. It could be YouTube viédos or online websites or books that are a very useful resource even in the age of the internet. There are many to choose from. Here is the title of an official Cambridge KET text:

Cambridge KET for Schools 1 Self-study Pack (Student's Book with Answers and Audio CD) Official Examination Papers from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations

You can drop by your local library and ask the librarian for help, too.

There are some things that you can do to prepare for the exam.

Tip #1 Practice, practice and then practice some more

Practice your English in all four of the language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Don’t ignore one area since you will be tested on each area.

Tip #2 Work on improving your grammar and vocabulary.

Make sure that you focus on the grammar and vocabulary for the CEFR A2 level. You don’t need to learn about the future present perfect for the KET exam, for example.

Tip #3 Look at practice exams, so you know what to expect.

If you know what to do on an exam, you will feel more confident and confidence leads to better scores.

Tip #4 Location, dates and times

Check with your exam centre about identification, starting times and the location of the exam centre. You need to be sure that you bring the appropriate ID and don’t arrive late because they will not wait for you.

Tip #5 Pronunciation of every day words and phrases is important.

People tend to focus on the big words and forget the shorter, more common words that you will use during the speaking section. Work on the sounds that give you problems. If they can’t understand you, then you lose points.

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