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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.


  • 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.


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 worldwide 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 route 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


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 speak slowly and clearly.

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


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.


  • 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 SPEAK language school.
  • You can access a variety of support materials from the Resources area of our website. These include a small booklet, Information for Candidates, and sample exam papers, which include sound files for the Listening test materials.
  • Many publishers have produced a wide selection 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 teachers with their own webpage so they can download sample exam papers, handbooks, and other teaching support material.


  • 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.
‘I took [KET]… because it provided an assessment of practical skills, and encouraged the development of my abilities which can be used in study. After I took the KET exam, I can see my English skills improving. This year, I will take PET exam.’

Thanarak Srijaroensuk — KET candidate


  • KET offers an easy to understand route 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 specially 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.


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


  • If you are studying English at the moment, speak to your teacher at SPEAK language school about how to enrol. Entries cannot be made directly to Cambridge ESOL.
  • Already registered? Visit the Candidate Support site for exam preparation help.
  • 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.
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Paul Newman