The A2 Key examination is an elementary-level exam that tests your ability to deal with basic written and spoken communications.

A2 Key is the right exam for you if the following criteria apply to you:

  • Your first language is not English.
  • You have basic English skills.
  • You can understand simple written English.
  • You can communicate in familiar situations.
  • You can understand short notices and simple spoken directions.

Exam Components

A2 Key has three papers – Reading and Writing, Listening, and Speaking. The Reading and Writing paper contributes 50% of the total marks, and the Listening and Speaking papers each contribute 25%.

Reading and Writing (Paper 1)

1 hour 10 minutes

The tasks focus on a number of short texts, including signs, brochures, newspapers and magazines. Candidates are assessed on their ability to use a variety of reading strategies to understand the general meaning and to identify appropriate vocabulary, response and words. In addition, candidates have to fill gaps in simple texts, complete a form and write a short note of about 25 words to communicate a given message.

Listening (Paper 2)

approximately 30 minutes

Candidates will need to demonstrate their ability to understand and identify information from a number of recorded texts spoken at a reasonably slow pace, including public announcements, short dialogues, longer conversations and one factual monologue.

Speaking (Paper 3)

up to 10 minutes

Candidates are normally tested in pairs by two locally-based examiners on their ability to interact face-to-face with one of the examiners. They are also assessed on their ability to converse with each other in English, using prompts to ask and answer simple questions of a personal and non-personal nature.

Exam Schedule and Fees

Cambridge English Qualifications

Click here for the latest exam schedule.

The Speaking paper is held within specified periods, and special arrangements are made at the discretion of CEFL Headquarters, taking into account the needs and conditions of CEFL Member Institutions.


Click here for more information


With the exception of Paper 3, all exam scripts are returned to Cambridge Assessment International Education for marking and grading.

Five or six weeks after the exam, all candidates receive a Statement of Results, showing the relative strengths and weaknesses of the candidates’ performance in each of the papers by means of a graphical profile.

There are two Pass grades: Pass and Pass with Merit. Successful candidates are awarded the A2 Key certificate approximately 10 weeks after the exam. This certification is valid for life. Candidates judged not to have reached the required standard for A2 Key receive the Narrow Fail or Fail grades. The overall grade is based on the candidate’s total score in all the papers.

If you have any questions about your results, contact the CEFL centre where you registered for the exam.

Click here to contact the Cambridge Assessment English Centre Exams Manager for the actual exam dates, especially for Paper 3, and the latest fees if you are a walk-in/external candidate or feeder school representative.

Click here for further information on the CEFL A2 Key course.