Cambridge Examinations

Key English Test (KET)

KET is Cambridge ESOL’s exam which recognises the ability to deal with everyday written and spoken English at a basic level.

There are two versions of KET available: KET and KET for Schools. Both follow exactly the same format and the level of the question papers is identical. The only difference is that the content and treatment of topics in KET for Schools have been particularly targeted at the interests and experience of school pupils.

Is KET for you?

  • Do you have basic English skills?
  • Can you understand simple written English?
  • Can you communicate in familiar situations?
  • Can you understand short notices and simple spoken directions?

If this describes your skills now, or describes the level of skills you are working towards, then KET is the right exam for you.

What will KET do for you?

Cambridge ESOL is a department of the world-famous and historic University of Cambridge. Attaining one of its certificates is an achievement and a reward in itself. However, there are many other benefits to taking KET:

  • a KET certificate is valid for life. You will not need to take the exam again
  • KET is a truly international certificate, recognised around the world for business and study purposes
  • thousands of employers, universities and government departments officially recognise KET as a basic qualification in English
  • although KET is a basic exam, it offers a chance to find out your strengths and weaknesses in using English, and gives you a pathway to higher qualifications such as the Preliminary English Test (PET) and First Certificate in English (FCE)
  • KET’s ‘Can Do’ skills give you the confidence to use English in real situations.

‘I decided to take the examination because Cambridge is a very famous university. After I took it, my English skills improved and I have experience of taking an international exam. Thank you.’
Karan Ulhaka — KET candidate

What will taking KET help you do?

KET is at Level A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) — an internationally recognised benchmark of language ability. The framework uses six levels to describe language ability from A1 to C2. ‘Can Do’ statements have been used to describe these levels in terms of real language skills.

At A2 level, typical users can be expected to:

  • understand and use everyday expressions and basic phrases
  • introduce themselves and answer basic questions about your personal details
  • interact with English speakers who talk slowly and clearly.

Your preparation for KET will give you these kinds of practical language skills.

What is involved in taking the KET exam?

KET has three papers:

Reading and Writing: 1 hour 10 minutes
You will need to be able to understand simple written information such as signs, brochures, newspapers and magazines. You will also have to fill gaps in simple sentences and write a short piece of around 25 words.

Listening: 30 minutes
You need to show your ability to understand announcements and other spoken material when spoken reasonably slowly.

Speaking: up to 10 minutes
You will need to demonstrate you can take part in a conversation by answering and asking simple questions. Speaking tests are normally held with two candidates.

Supporting you

As with all of Cambridge ESOL’s certificates, there is a wide range of support to help you prepare for your exam.

While you can choose to prepare for KET on your own, many candidates prefer to take the preparation courses run by private language schools and universities in many countries.

You can access a variety of support materials from the Resources area of our website. These include a short booklet, Information for Candidates, and sample exam papers, which include sound files for the Listening test materials.

Many publishers have produced a wide choice of books and other aids to help you prepare for taking KET. Ask your local bookshop for details.

To help you prepare for KET, we provide your teachers with their own website so they can download sample exam papers, handbooks, and other teaching support material.

A world of opportunities — worldwide recognition

  • KET is a truly international certificate, recognised by administrative, industrial, and service-based employers as a qualification in intermediate English.
  • It is also accepted by many educational institutions for study purposes.
  • Companies such as Epson, Nestlé, Motorola and KPMG all recognise the value of KET in their overseas offices.

English for your future

  • KET offers an easy to understand pathway to other, higher qualifications such as the Preliminary English Test (PET) and First Certificate in English (FCE).
  • KET’s ‘Can Do’ skills enable you to use English in real situations with confidence. KET exams use real-life situations and are especially designed to help you communicate more effectively in your own life and to focus your language learning on the skills you will actually need.
  • Because KET exams focus on all four communication skills — Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking — you increase your confidence in using English in everyday situations.

Your results

Reading and Writing carries 50% of the total marks for KET, while Listening and Speaking both carry 25% of the marks each.

Candidates can access their results through the Cambridge ESOL Results Online website.

There are two Pass grades, Pass and Pass with Merit.

Candidates judged not to have reached the required standard for KET receive the grades Narrow Fail or Fail.

All candidates are given an exam report explaining how they performed in each of the papers.

Certificates are awarded to candidates who achieve Pass grades. Once awarded, Cambridge ESOL KET certificates are valid for life.

Exam scripts are sent to Cambridge ESOL for marking and grading and the results are sent back to the centres. If you have any questions about your results, you should contact the centre where you took the exam.

Register

If you are studying English at the moment, speak to your teacher about how to enrol.

If you are not studying at the moment, your nearest Cambridge ESOL exam centre will be able to advise you about how to register, fees, the dates of the exam and other arrangements. We have more than 2,000 centres in 130 countries. Please note that centres may set registration deadlines that are earlier than those published.

If you have a disability or a specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia) it may be possible to ask for Special Arrangements to be made when taking the exam.

Preliminary English Test (PET)

PET is an exam for people who can use everyday written and spoken English at an intermediate level. It covers all four language skills — reading, writing, listening and speaking. Preparing for the exam is a popular way to develop and improve your language skills because it provides practical language practice in a variety of everyday work, study and leisure situations.

PET reflects the use of language in real life, such as understanding signs and announcements, and is accepted by many employers as proof of ability to use English in clerical, secretarial or managerial jobs. It is also widely accepted for use in jobs where spoken English is necessary such as tourism, retail, construction, manufacturing and engineering.

There are two versions of PET available: PET and PET for Schools. Both follow exactly the same format and the level of the question papers is identical. The only difference is that the content and treatment of topics in PET for Schools have been particularly targeted at the interests and experience of school pupils.

Is PET for you?

Can you use English to:

  • deal with everyday events?
  • read simple textbooks or magazine articles?
  • write letters on familiar subjects?
  • take notes in a meeting?

If this describes your skills now, or describes the level of skills you are working towards, then PET is the right exam for you.

What will PET do for you?

Cambridge ESOL is a department of the world-famous and historic University of Cambridge. Attaining one of its certificates is an achievement and a reward in itself. However, there are many other benefits to taking PET:

  • a PET certificate is valid for life. You will not need to take the exam again
  • PET is a truly international certificate, recognised around the world for business and study purposes
  • thousands of employers, universities and government departments officially recognise PET as an intermediate qualification in English
  • although PET is a basic exam, it offers a chance to find out your strengths and weaknesses in using English, and gives you a pathway to higher qualifications such as the First Certificate in English (FCE)
  • PET’s ‘Can Do’ skills give you the confidence to use English in real situations.

What will taking PET help you do?

PET is at Level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) — an internationally recognised benchmark of language ability. The framework uses six levels to describe language ability from A1 to C2. ‘Can Do’ statements have been used to describe these levels in terms of real language skills.

At B1 level, typical users can be expected to:

  • understand the main points of straightforward instructions or public announcements
  • deal with most of the situations you might meet when travelling as a tourist in an English-speaking country
  • ask simple questions and take part in factual conversations in a work environment
  • write letters or make notes on familiar matters.

Your preparation for PET will give you these kinds of practical language skills.

What is involved in taking the PET exam?

PET has three papers:

Reading and Writing: 1 hour 30 minutes
You need to be able to read texts from signs, journals, newspapers and magazines and understand the main points. You will need to show you can use vocabulary and structure by completing tasks such as writing a short message, and a story or letter of around 100 words. You will also need to complete an exercise involving changing the meaning of sentences.

Listening: 30 minutes (approx)
You will need to show you can understand the meaning of a range of recorded spoken material, including announcements and discussions about everyday life. You need to be able to follow the attitudes and intentions of the speakers.

Speaking: 10-12 minutes
Candidates take the Speaking test in pairs. You have to show your spoken English by taking part in conversation, asking and answering questions, and talking freely about your likes and dislikes.

First Certificate in English (FCE)

FCE is an exam for people who can use everyday written and spoken English at an upper-intermediate level. It is an ideal exam for people who want to use English for work or study purposes.

Is FCE for you?

Can you…

  • understand texts from a wide variety of sources?
  • use English to make notes while someone is speaking in English?
  • talk to people about a wide variety of topics?
  • understand people talking in English on radio or television programmes?

If this describes your skills now, or describes the level of skills you are working towards, then FCE is the right exam for you.

What will FCE do for you?

Cambridge ESOL is a department of the world-famous and historic University of Cambridge. Attaining one of its certificates is an achievement and a reward in itself. However, there are many other benefits to taking FCE:

‘I am working in an international environment which requires me to continuously improve my English. To pass the FCE at Grade B is certainly a commitment to that. After the exam I got the motivation to study more English and then decided to enrol in an MBA conducted in English.’
Phan Hoang Hoa — FCE candidate

What will taking FCE help you do?

FCE is at Level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) — an internationally recognised benchmark of language ability. The framework uses six levels to describe language ability from A1 to C2. ‘Can Do’ statements have been used to describe these levels in terms of real skills with language.

For example, at B2 level, typical users can be expected to:

  • understand the main ideas of complex pieces of writing
  • keep up a conversation on a fairly wide range of topics, expressing opinions and presenting arguments
  • produce clear, detailed writing, expressing opinions and explaining the advantages and disadvantages of different points of view.

Your preparation for FCE will give you these kinds of practical language skills.

What does FCE involve?

FCE has five papers:

Reading: 1 hour
You will need to be able to understand information in fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers and magazines.

Writing: 1 hour 20 minutes
You will have to show you can produce two different pieces of writing such as a short story, a letter, an article, a report, a review or an essay.

Use of English: 45 minutes
Your use of English will be tested by tasks which show how well you control your grammar and vocabulary.

Listening: 40 minutes
You need to show you can understand the meaning of a range of spoken material, including news programmes, speeches, stories and anecdotes and public announcements.

Speaking: 14 minutes
You will take the Speaking test with another candidate or in a group of three, and you will be tested on your ability to take part in different types of interaction: with the examiner, with the other candidates and by yourself.

Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)

CAE is an exam for advanced users of English. This exam is aimed at people who can use written and spoken English for most professional and social purposes. It is widely recognised for work or study purposes.

Is CAE for you?

Can you…

  • use English in an effective way for business or study purposes?
  • use English confidently and flexibly?
  • produce well-structured, clear pieces of writing on complex issues?

If this describes your skills now, or describes the level of skills you are working towards, then CAE is the right exam for you.

What will CAE do for you?

Cambridge ESOL is a department of the world-famous and historic University of Cambridge. Attaining one of its certificates is an achievement and a reward in itself. However, there are many other benefits to taking CAE:

What will taking CAE help you do?

CAE is at Level C1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) – an internationally recognised benchmark of language ability. The framework uses six levels to describe language ability from A1 to C2. ‘Can Do’ statements have been used to describe these levels in terms of real skills with language.

For example, at C1 level, typical users can be expected to:

  • read quickly enough to cope with an academic course
  • understand complex opinions
  • produce clear, well structured and detailed pieces of writing
  • express themselves well with a good degree of fluency
  • use English flexibly for social, professional and academic purposes.

Your preparation for CAE will give you these kinds of practical language skills.

What does CAE involve?

CAE has five papers:

Reading: 1 hour 15 minutes
You will need to be able to understand texts from publications such as fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers and magazines.

Writing 1 hour 30 minutes
You will have to show you can produce two different pieces of writing such as an article, a report, a proposal and a review.

Use of English Paper 1 hour
Your use of English will be tested by tasks which show how well you can control your grammar and vocabulary.

Listening: 40 minutes
You need to show you can understand the meaning of a range of spoken material, including lectures, radio broadcasts, speeches and talks.

Speaking: 15 minutes
You will take the Speaking test with another candidate or in a group of three, and you will be tested on your ability to take part in different types of interaction: with the examiner, with the other candidate and by yourself.

Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)

CPE is Cambridge ESOL’s most advanced exam. It is aimed at people who use English for professional or study purposes.

Is CPE for you?

Can you…

  • use English to advise on, or talk about complex or sensitive issues?
  • understand the finer points of documents, correspondence and reports?

If this describes your skills now, or describes the level of skills you are working towards, then CPE is the right exam for you.

What will CPE do for you?

Cambridge ESOL is a department of the world-famous and historic University of Cambridge. Attaining one of its certificates is an achievement and a reward in itself. However, there are many other benefits to taking CPE:

  • a CPE certificate is valid for life, you never need to take the exam again
  • CPE is truly international, recognised around the world for business and study purposes
  • hundreds of employers, universities and government departments officially recognise CPE as proof of proficiency in English
  • CPE’s ‘Can Do’ skills give you the confidence to use English in real situations.

What will taking CPE help you do?

CPE is at Level C2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) — an internationally recognised benchmark of language ability. The framework uses six levels to describe language ability from A1 to C2. ‘Can Do’ statements have been used to describe these levels in terms of real skills with language.

For example, at C2 level, typical users can be expected to:

  • understand with ease virtually everything they hear and read
  • make accurate and complete notes during a presentation
  • understand colloquial asides
  • talk about complex and sensitive issues without awkwardness
  • express themselves precisely and fluently.

Your preparation for CPE will give you these kinds of practical language skills.

What does CPE involve?

CPE has five papers:

Reading 1 hour 30 minutes
You will need to be able to understand the meaning of written English at word, sentence, paragraph and whole text level.

Writing 2 hours
You will have to show you can produce a number of different items such as a short story, a letter, an article, a report or a composition, each of about 300—350 words.

Use of English 1 hour 30 minutes
Your use of English will be tested by tasks which show how well you can control your grammar and vocabulary and how well you can summarise information.

Listening: 40 minutes (approx)
You need to show you can understand the meaning of a range of spoken material, including lectures, news programmes and public announcements.

Speaking: 19 minutes
You will take the Speaking test with another candidate or in groups of three, and you will be tested on your ability to take part in different types of interaction: with the examiner, with the other candidates and by yourself.