Changes to the KET exam in 2020

Changes are coming to the Cambridge KEY (KET) exam in 2020. The changes will be significant for both candidates and teachers as Cambridge want to shift towards focussing on language skills rather than more traditional assessment methods. So, what exactly is being changed in the exam?

The changes in 2020 are not quite as far-reaching. However, Cambridge have done a lot to bring the exam in line with the higher levels and provide continuity between exams. This way, A2 candidates, who often do KET in school at a very young age, will be prepared for other Cambridge exams as they grow up with each corresponding level’s examination.

Reading and Writing

Pre-2020 – 1 hour 10 minutes2020 – 60 minutes
Part 1: Matching Candidates were asked to match 5 sentences with the correct text with 8 options. Part 1: Multiple choice short texts Candidates were asked to answer 3-option multiple choice questions based on texts such as messages, postcards and emails. Similar to PET Reading Part 1.
Part 2: Multiple choice sentences Candidates were asked to complete 3-option grammar and vocabulary multiple choice questions based on separate sentences on the same topic. Part 2: Matching Candidates read 3 short texts on the same topic and match questions to the texts.
Part 3: Multiple choice and matching conversations Candidates were asked to complete conversation exchanges over two different tasks. Part 3: Multiple choice long text Same as multiple choice from old Part 4.
Part 4: Multiple choice or right/wrong/doesn’t say Candidates were asked to read a longer text and had to answer either 3-option multiple choice questions or right/wrong/doesn’t say questions. Part 4: Multiple choice cloze Same as old Part 5, but now there are only 6 questions instead of 8.
Part 5: Multiple choice cloze Candidates were asked to answer 8 4-option multiple choice questions based on grammar and vocabulary within a short text. Part 5: Open cloze Same as old Part 7, but now there are only 6 questions instead of 10.
Part 6: Spelling Candidates were asked to produce 5 items of vocabulary and spell them correctly based on definitions. Part 6: 25+ word message Same as old Part 9, but with a more flexible word count.
Part 7: Open Cloze Candidates were asked to fill 10 gaps with one word based on grammatical structures. There were no options. Part 7: 35+ word story Candidates are asked to write a short story based on 3 picture prompts.
Part 8: Information transfer Candidates were asked to complete an information sheet based on content from 2 short texts.
Part 9: 25-35-word message Candidates were asked to write a short message in response to a prompt that contained 3 key points that had to be included in their answer.

The KET Reading and Writing exam has been simplified and a few new types of task have been added to the exam. There will only be seven parts instead of nine on the updated exam. Part 1 is now similar to PET Reading Part 1, Part 2 requires candidates to match questions to three short texts on the same topic, Part 3 is similar to the old Part 4, Part 4 is similar to the old Part 5, Part 5 is similar to the old Part 7, Part 6 is similar to the old Part 9 but with a more flexible word count, and then Part 7 requires candidates to write a short story based on three picture prompts.

Listening

Pre-2020 – Approximately 30 minutes2020 – Approximately 30 minutes
Part 1: Multiple choice short audios with pictures Candidates were asked to answer 5 3-option multiple choice questions with picture answers based on short independent audios. Part 1: Multiple choice short audios with pictures No change.
Part 2: Multiple matching Candidates were asked to match two lists of items based on specific information in a conversation. Part 2: Sentence completion Same as old Part 5.
Part 3: Multiple choice long audio Candidates were asked to answer 5 3-option multiple choice questions based on 1 long audio (a conversation). Part 3: Multiple choice long audio No change.
Part 4: Sentence completion (Dialogue) Candidates were asked to complete 5 gaps with details of missing information from 1 long audio with 2 speakers interacting. Part 4: Multiple choice short audios with text Candidates are asked to answer 5 3-option multiple choice questions with text answers based on short independent audios. Similar to new PET Listening Part 2 and FCE Listening Part 1.
Part 5: Sentence completion (Monologue) Candidates were asked to complete 5 gaps with details of missing details from 1 long audio with 1 speaker giving information. Part 5: Multiple matching Same as old Part 2.

The changes to the KET Listening exam in 2020 are relatively minor. The new multiple-choice task (Part 4) is similar to higher level exams.

Speaking

Pre-2020 – 8-10 minutes2020 – 8-10 minutes
Part 1: Interview – 5-6 minutes Candidates were asked to answer personal questions about their day-to-day lives. Part 1: Interview – 3-4 minutes No change, but it is now shorter, so less questions are asked.
Part 2: Collaborative task – 3-4 minutes Candidates were asked to ask and answer questions in pairs using prompt cards and information sheets. Part 2: Collaborative task – 5-6 minutes Candidates are asked to discuss a situation in pairs using visual prompts and a question to discuss. The examiner then asks 2 follow-up questions on the same topic to each candidate.

The changes to the Speaking exam make for a more natural progression throughout the exam.

Take a look at a Cambridge Key (KET) 2020 Speaking exam video and see what you think of the changes. Here you can see the Key for Schools version, but an adults version is also available on the Cambridge Assessment English YouTube page.