The Cambridge English A2 Key exam, previously known as the KET exam, which stands for Cambridge Key English Test, is designed for students at an elementary level of English. It is the lowest level of Cambridge exam offered to adults outside the UK. Like all of the Cambridge English exams, the A2 Key is a pass/fail test and for those who pass, it delivers a certificate that does not expire. The Cambridge A2 Key exam can be either a paper-based test or a computer-based test. In either case, it lasts 110 minutes in total.
The A2 Key exam tests all four skills – listening, reading, writing, and speaking – divided into three sections structured as follows:
Part 1 (60 minutes) – The first section of the KET Exam tests reading comprehension and writing ability at the same time. It is subdivided into 7 subsections with a total of 32 questions. The questions in the first part of the test are multiple-choice then they move on to fill-in-the-blank, and in the final subsection, there is a very short writing prompt. The reading material and writing prompts are all at a basic level of English.
Part 2 (24 minutes of recordings + 6 minutes extra to transfer answers to the answer sheet) – The second section of the Cambridge A2 Key tests listening comprehension. There are several short recordings of everyday English spoken slowly and clearly and questions about the recordings. Each recording is played twice. Some of the questions are multiple-choice and others are fill-in-the-blank. There are a total of 25 questions in this part.
Part 3 (8 to 10 minutes) – The last section of the KET Exam tests English speaking. Students are put into pairs and asked to have a conversation with an examiner and then with each other. This group situation is meant to be more realistic than a one-on-one conversational situation. There is a second examiner who watches and scores but does not speak. This speaking test may be given on a different day from the first two parts of the A2 Key exam, depending on the exam center’s scheduling.
All Cambridge English Exams are reported using the same scoring scale, although in the past each exam used a different scale. Today, lower-level tests are able to deliver scores on a lower range of the scale and more difficult tests are able to deliver scores higher on the same scale. Valid scores on the A2 Key exam range from 100 to 150. A score of 120 or above is considered a “pass” and students with that score will receive the KET Exam certificate, which corresponds to a level A2 in English on the CEFR. Students scoring 140 or above on the A2 Key Exam will receive a Cambridge English certificate for level B1. Students scoring between 100 and 119 will receive an A1 English certificate.
The first part of the A2 Key exam is worth 50% of the total score. The second and third parts of the exam are each worth 25% of the total score. Each student receives their KET results broken down by the three parts of the exam, as well as an overall result and the corresponding CEFR level. Timing on delivery of results and certification varies by test center.