The Teaching Knowledge Test

Want to improve your knowledge of teaching but don’t have the time or the money to take the CELTA? Consider the Teaching Knowledge Test!

Introduced by Cambridge ESOL (the CELTA people) in 2005, the Teaching Knowledge Test (1) was a response to requests by governments around the world (2) for an easily accessible way of training and certifying English Language teachers, including those who have previously taught other subjects and need to requalify. It is now offered by centres in 21 countries around the world.

A test of knowledge rather than competence (there is no teaching practice component), the test is divided into three modules :

Module 1 - Language and background to language learning and teaching
  • Describing language and language skills.
  • Background to language learning.
  • Background to language teaching.

Module 2 - Planning lessons and use of resources for language teaching

  • Planning and preparing a lesson or sequence of lessons.
  • Selection and use of resources and materials.

Module 3 - Managing the teaching and learning process

  • Teachers' and learners' language in the classroom.
  • Classroom management

Each module involves an 80 minute test consisting of 80 objective questions. The modules can be taken together in one exam session or separately, over three exam sessions, so that you can prepare yourself as intensively or non-intensively as you wish. You can’t fail the test – it’s graded from Band 1 (lowest) to Band 4 (highest) to show the level of your knowledge in each area. The sort of questions you’ll be answering are:

Module 1

Scanning is :
a. reading a text quickly to get general information.
b. reading a text quickly to find specific information.
c. reading a text quickly to discover the writer’s attitude.

Module 2

Which of the following is a lesson aim :
a. students will complete a role play.
b. reduce teacher talking time.
c. give students practise in listening for gist.

Module 3

What type of mistake is involved in the following sentence : I live here since 1999.
a. wrong preposition
b. wrong tense
c. missing article

Not all the questions are multiple choice – others include matching, sequencing and odd-one-out. Multiple choice are simply the easiest to demonstrate here. (3)

There are no formal entrance requirements for the test, although candidates are advised to have a language proficiency of at least B1 on the Council of Europe scale (pre-intermediate). Similarly, it is not necessary to follow a course before taking the exam (4), though many preparatory courses are available worldwide, often as short as 20 hours per module or less.


1. The Cambridge ESOL website gives full details of the test, lists centres where it can be taken and answers some FAQs.

2. For information on which governments have adopted the test see here.

3. You can see the full range of question types in the sample papers for each of the three modules.

4. If you're interested in preparing yourself for the test, try The TKT Course by Mary Spratt, Alan Pulverness and Melanie Williams. Suitable for self-access study, it provides approximately 60-90 hours preparation, including practice tasks and tests.


Alex Case said...

I think the interesting thing about the TKT is that people often defend the CELTA against online training by saying there is no teaching practice on the online ones, but at the same time Cambridge is supplying a test with no teaching component.

If the TKT had an interview/ oral questions about teaching, that might provide something a bit closer to a real test of teaching.

Anonymous said...

I have been on many 'teaching' courses which have all fired me, and rekindled my love of words, ideas, literature, knowledge etc., but, the 'real test of teaching' is always in the classroom, facing a group composed of bullies; no-hopers; arrogant know-it-all wounded adults, and the interested and active student. I believe that my ongoing experience of classroom teaching, coupled with continuous training and reading in educational methods and theories, are vital for my motivation, love and survival. In every classroom experience I pray and hope that 'Learning' does take place, if not at that moment then later. The TKT is excellent for every one thinking of teaching and, especially, for those already in teaching.