Exam Preparation

A2 Key

Exam Preparation

A2 Key

Exam Preparation

A2 Key

Information for candidates

A2 Key Information for candidates

A guide to the exam, with advice on preparing for the exam, tips for exam day and useful links.

Exam format

A2 Key is an elementary level assessment of English. It consists of three papers: Reading & Writing, Listening and Speaking. The Speaking test uses a face-to-face test with two candidates and two assessors. This creates a more realistic and reliable measure of your ability to use English to communicate.

A2 Key is made up of three papers developed to test your English skills:

1 hour

The A2 Key Reading and Writing paper has seven parts and different types of texts and questions. Parts 1–5 are about reading and Parts 6–7 are mainly about writing. This paper accounts for 50% of the total mark.

Nunber of parts: 7
Number of questions: 32
 Type of questions – Reading tasks:

  • Part 1: Multiple choice short texts
    Read six short real-world texts for the main message.
    – 6 questions
    – 1 mark for each correct answer
  • Part 2: Multiple matching
    Read seven questions and three short texts on the same topic, then match the questions to the texts.
  • Part 3: Multiple choice long text
    Read one long text for detailed understanding and main ideas.
  • Part 4: Multiple-choice cloze
    Read a factual text and choose the correct vocabulary items to complete the gaps.
  • Part 5: Open cloze
    Complete gaps in an email (and sometimes the reply too) using one word.
  • Part 6: Guided writing
    Write a short email or note of 25 words or more.
  • Part 7: Pictures story
    Write a short story of 35 words or more based on three picture prompts.

30 minutes, including 6 minutes’ transfer time

The A2 Key Listening paper has five parts. For each part you have to listen to a recorded text or texts and answer some questions. You hear each recording twice.

Number of parts: 5
Number of questions: 25
Type of tasks:

  • Part 1: Multiple choice short texts
    Identify key information in five short dialogues and choose the correct visual.
  • Part 2: Gap fill
    Listen to a monologue and complete gaps in a page of notes.
  • Part 3: Multiple choice long text
    Listen to a dialogue for key information and answer five 3-option questions.
  • Part 4: Multiple choice
    Identify the main idea, message, gist or topic in five short monologues or dialogues and answer five 3-option questions.
  • Part 5: Matching
    Listen to a dialogue for key information and match five items.

8–10 minutes per pair of candidates

The A2 Key Speaking test has two parts and is taken with another candidate. There are two examiners: one examiner talks to you and the other examiner listens. Both examiners give marks for your performance.

Number of parts: 2
Type of tasks:

  • Part 1: Interview (3-4 minutes)
    Respond to questions, giving factual or personal information.
  • Part 2: Discussion (5-6 minutes)
    Candidates discuss likes and dislikes, and give reasons.
Choosing your Speaking Test partner

If you would like to be paired together with a friend/classmate, you can request this when you register for the exam. Please note however that research has shown that there are both advantages and disadvantages in taking the test with someone you know and that in the end it doesn’t matter. What is important is that the test judges you on your own performance.

Groups of three candidates

Almost all A2 Key Speaking Tests are conducted in groups of two candidates. However, if there is an uneven number of candidates at an exam session there will be one test with a group of three candidates, normally at the end of the day or before a long break. The test format is exactly the same but will last a little longer. Please note that you cannot request to take your test in a group of three.

Frequently asked questions and exam day tips

Sample test

Computer based

You will need to use the Firefox browser to access these sample tests. Download Firefox for free.

Watch this tutorial before you start to help you understand what you need to do.

Answer keys

There is no answer key for Reading & Writing Part 9, but there are sample answers and examiner comments in the relevant pages of the A2 Key handbook.

Vocabulary list

This list gives teachers a guide to the vocabulary needed when preparing students for A2 Key and A2 Key for Schools.

Download A2 Key vocabulary list

Speaking test video

These video will help you to understand what happens during the A2 Key and A2 Key for Schools speaking test. You can also download examiners’ comments for this video.

Information for candidates

A guide to the exam, with advice on preparing for the exam, tips for exam day and useful links.

Download A2 Key information for candidates

Exam format

A2 Key is made up of three papers developed to test your English skills:

1 hour

The A2 Key Reading and Writing paper has seven parts and different types of texts and questions. Parts 1–5 are about reading and Parts 6–7 are mainly about writing. This paper accounts for 50% of the total mark.

Nunber of parts: 7
Number of questions: 32
 Type of questions – Reading tasks:

  • Part 1: Multiple choice short texts
    Read six short real-world texts for the main message.
  • Part 2: Multiple matching
    Read seven questions and three short texts on the same topic, then match the questions to the texts.
  • Part 3: Multiple choice long text
    Read one long text for detailed understanding and main ideas.
  • Part 4: Multiple-choice cloze
    Read a factual text and choose the correct vocabulary items to complete the gaps.
  • Part 5: Open cloze
    Complete gaps in an email (and sometimes the reply too) using one word.
  • Part 6: Guided writing
    Write a short email or note of 25 words or more.
  • Part 7: Pictures story
    Write a short story of 35 words or more based on three picture prompts.

30 minutes, including 6 minutes’ transfer time

The A2 Key Listening paper has five parts. For each part you have to listen to a recorded text or texts and answer some questions. You hear each recording twice.

Number of parts: 5
Number of questions: 25
Type of tasks:

  • Part 1: Multiple choice short texts
    Identify key information in five short dialogues and choose the correct visual.
  • Part 2: Gap fill
    Listen to a monologue and complete gaps in a page of notes.
  • Part 3: Multiple choice long text
    Listen to a dialogue for key information and answer five 3-option questions.
  • Part 4: Multiple choice
    Identify the main idea, message, gist or topic in five short monologues or dialogues and answer five 3-option questions.
  • Part 5: Matching
    Listen to a dialogue for key information and match five items.

8–10 minutes per pair of candidates

The A2 Key Speaking test has two parts and is taken with another candidate. There are two examiners: one examiner talks to you and the other examiner listens. Both examiners give marks for your performance.

Number of parts: 2
Type of tasks:

  • Part 1: Interview (3-4 minutes)
    Respond to questions, giving factual or personal information.
  • Part 2: Discussion (5-6 minutes)
    Candidates discuss likes and dislikes, and give reasons.
Choosing your Speaking Test partner

If you would like to be paired together with a friend/classmate, you can request this when you register for the exam. Please note however that research has shown that there are both advantages and disadvantages in taking the test with someone you know and that in the end it doesn’t matter. What is important is that the test judges you on your own performance.

Groups of three candidates

Almost all A2 Key Speaking Tests are conducted in groups of two candidates. However, if there is an uneven number of candidates at an exam session there will be one test with a group of three candidates, normally at the end of the day or before a long break. The test format is exactly the same but will last a little longer. Please note that you cannot request to take your test in a group of three.

Frequently asked questions
and exam day tips

A2 Key FAQs

Exam day tips:

Sample test

Computer based

Watch this tutorial before you start to help you understand what you need to do.

You will need to use the Firefox browser to access these sample tests. Download Firefox for free.

Answer keys

There is no answer key for Reading & Writing Part 9, but there are sample answers and examiner comments in the relevant pages of the A2 Key handbook.

Vocabulary list

This list gives teachers a guide to the vocabulary needed when preparing students for A2 Key and A2 Key for Schools.

Download A2 Key vocabulary list

Speaking test video

These video will help you to understand what happens during the A2 Key and A2 Key for Schools speaking test. You can also download examiners’ comments for this video.