A2 Key Cambridge English Qualification

  • A2 Key is an elementary level exam.
  • The first level of the University of Cambridge exams in general English.
  • This exam is set at Level A2 of the CEFR for modern languages.


An A2 Key certificate has no expiration date. However, some institutions have their own language requirements or policies on how recent they require exam results to be. They may ask you for evidence that you have maintained or improved your level of English since you took your exam. Speak to the institution you are applying to and confirm their individual requirements.
A2 Key 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.

Who is the A2 Key exam for and why should I take it?

The A2 Key exam is suitable for:

  • Learners with an elementary level of English
  • Candidates should be able to understand the context of simple texts, understand notices and simple directions and communicate in familiar situations.
  • A2 Key is based on language used in real life and most social situations, such as travelling.
  • A2 Key is helpful for anyone who wishes to take B1 Preliminary or B2 First at a later stage.

What is the format of the exam?

A2 Key has 3 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.



  • Reading and Writing carries 50% of the total marks for A2 Key, while Listening and Speaking each carry 25% of the marks.
  • Candidates can access their results through the University of Cambridge results website
  • For paper-based exams, these will be available after 4 to 6 weeks
  • For computer-based exams, they will be available after 2 to 3 weeks
  • From 2016, results will be reported on the new Cambridge English Scale (replacing the candidate profile and standardised scores).
  • You will receive a separate score for each of the three skills (reading and writing, listening and speaking)
  • These scores are averaged to give you an overall result for the exam

There are three Pass grades:

  • Pass with Distinction (score between 140 and 150)
  • Pass with Merit (score between 133 and 139)
  • Pass (score between 120 and 132)

Two Fail grades:

  • Council of Europe Level A1 (score between 100 and 119)
  • Not Reported (118 and below)

There is no minimum pass mark for individual papers.

The grade is based on the total score of all 3 papers.

Certificates are awarded to candidates who score 100 and above and are despatched approximately 10 days after the results release window has ended.

A2 Key for Schools is the next step in a learner’s language journey after our qualifications for young learners. It’s also a good place for older students to start learning English too. Learners can start having conversations with English speakers which builds their confidence, step by step.

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