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Cambridge English: Key (KET)

Key (KET) is an A2 level exam and the first step for students wishing to progress towards the higher levels. It’s typically taken by students in primary or secondary school and can be achieved after approximately 180 – 200 hours of study*.

Students who are under 15 and are thinking of taking the Key (KET) exam usually choose Cambridge English: Key for Schools instead, an exam of the same value as Key (KET), but developed specifically for their age group. Both versions have the same type of questions. The Key for Schools test is built around content of interest to school-age students.

Teacher's resources Student's resources

Reading & WritingParts 1 – 5 – Reading skills tested with a range of short texts
Parts 6 – 9 – Basic writing skills tested
ListeningParts 1 – 5 – Listening tasks include short conversations, discussions, interviews and messages
SpeakingPart 1 – Students interact with examiner
Part 2 – Students interact with each other


Teacher's Resources for Key

This will probably be the first English exam that students have taken since leaving school or even the first they have ever taken. They could feel stressed by the thought of an exam and therefore they should be encouraged to familiarise themselves with the exam structure and content. Familiarisation instills confidence and confidence builds success.

However, DON’T spend the whole year focusing too heavily on practice exam tasks. It is more important to develop the skills and language students need for communicating in the real world. Just give students one or two exam questions once a week which will reinforce the language work that they have been studying.

Key Listening – Teacher's Notes

Find top tips and tasks to help your students confidently sit the Listening part of their Key exam.

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Key Reading & Writing – Teacher's Notes

Help students learn and consolidate vocabulary with tips to prepare for the Reading & Writing test.

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Key Speaking – Teacher's Notes

Help students develop their fluency ahead of their Speaking test with tips and a task to practice speaking in pairs.

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Student's Resources for Key

This is probably the first English exam that you have ever taken or the first since leaving school. You probably feel stressed by the thought that you will be taking an external exam at the end of the course. The most important strategy is to plan your time. A little every day is far, far better than last-minute revision.

  • Choose a place which you look at regularly, perhaps the mirror in your bedroom, or the fridge or the area around your computer screen. On post-it notes, write sentences which contain new words and stick them on this special place which you look at frequently. This is a good passive way to acquire new vocabulary without pain. Change the words frequently, but store the notes and then go back to them after a couple of weeks. If you know the words, tear up the post-its as this means that you now know the word. The tearing up is very satisfying!
  • Record your vocabulary under topic headings, and then alphabetically as this way you can find the words again easily. Show the part of speech (noun/verb/adjective/adverb etc.), the word stress, and whether a noun is countable or uncountable. Write a sentence to show the word in context. Create a phrase bank e.g. agreeing/disagreeing under A; suggesting under S.
  • DO NOT just learn English for the exam but develop your language skills generally as this will turn you into a good all-round English speaker and will raise you to the next level.
  • Remember that a low mark in one section does not necessarily mean you will fail the exam; it is the overall mark which counts. So if you are a strong speaker but a weaker reader, you can use the marks from your speaking to balance out your low reading marks.

Key Listening – Student's Notes

These top tips address possible problems and solutions for each part of the Listening test.

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Key Reading and Writing Test – Student's Notes

Detailed strategies and ideas equip you with essenatial skills to confidently work though the Reading and Writing test.

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Key Speaking Test – Student's Notes

The Speaking test can be quite stressful, but these activities will help you to practise the key parts of the test.

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*The information above suggests how many hours students might need to spend to reach each level of the CEFR, but these figures are intended as a guideline only. Students may require more or less time and support depending on their own needs.