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The Key (KET) and Preliminary (PET) Cambridge Exams have changed in 2020!

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The Preliminary (PET) and Key (KET) exams have suffered major changes in 2020. The changes are likely to take the candidates by surprise to a certain extent, as Cambridge is beginning to focus on practical abilities, moving away from the traditional model, based on language systems.

The changes are welcome given the fact that the KET and PET exams have not been modified since 2004. The Cambridge representatives explain the fact that these modifications are necessary in order to keep up with the progress made by researchers in terms of language learning and teaching. Also, there is a need for continuity and a smooth transition from one level to the other.

What’s New at Preliminary?

One of the most noticeable changes at Preliminary is the separation of the split of the 1 hour and a half Reading and Writing exam. They have become two separate papers, each with its own time limit of 45 minutes for Reading and 45 minutes for Writing.
At Reading, the third part, consisting of a long text followed by true/false questions, has disappeared completely. Instead, a new part has been introduced, in which the candidates are asked to introduce 5 sentences in a long text, based on grammatical and narrative accuracy. This is one of the most challenging types of exercises for the candidates at FCE, CAE and CPE exams, and most likely, the candidates at PET will not find them easy either. Also, an additional part is introduced, bringing the Reading exam at 6 parts in total. The 6th part is also borrowed from the superior levels and brings the candidates face to face with the “open cloze” type of exercise, in which one has to find the right words to fill in the empty spaces, with no options available.
At Writing, the “transformations” are eliminated. This type of exercise requires students to transform a sentence so as to maintain the original meaning, but with a different grammatical structure. Also, instead of the 35-45 words message, the candidates will be now required to write a letter of 100-200 words. At part 2, instead of choosing between a letter and a story, the candidates will be asked to choose between a story and an article, and the maximum number of words remains 100.
At Listening, the changes are minor. The 4th part, where the candidates had to answer with yes or no at questions based on a long recording will disappear. Instead, a new part is introduced which has the same form as the first part from FCE.
At Speaking, the biggest change is on the fourth part, where, instead of being asked to discuss a topic, the candidates will have to answer some questions based on a topic, same as the exams from superior levels. This change is welcome, eliminating the pressure of finding topics of conversations, for subjects which were often uninspiring.

What’s New at Key?

The A2 level exam has changed less than the Preliminary one, but the same tendency of bringing the exam in line with the one from superior levels is maintained, so as to enable candidates to advance at the next level without feeling major differences in regards to the types and difficulty level of the exercises.
The exam maintains the double format of the Reading & Writing paper, which is nevertheless shortened from 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour. The first part will be modified, and a new task similar to the one from PET part 1 is introduced. Also, the “spelling” task, which asked candidates to find words based on their definitions, has been removed. The same is true for the 8th part, which asked students to complete the missing information of an information sheet, based on two texts. Finally, the candidates will have to write a message of 25 words or more (more flexible than the old task in what the number of words is concerned), but also to write a story of at least 35 words, based on some images.
At listening, the major change is the disappearance of the “sentence completion” task from part 4, and its replacement with a “multiple choice” task, similarly with part of the new PET exam, and part one of the FCE exam.
At Speaking, the interview lasts for 4 minutes instead of the 6 minutes which the candidates had in the past. At the same time, at part two the format remains unchanged, but the examiner will ask two additional questions on the same topic.

The change of the format involves tasks which will bring new challenges for the candidates, but which are welcome, helping the candidates to advance to the next level.

Read more about the changes to the KET and PET exams here.

Also, Cambridge is offering free resources to facilitate the preparation for the exams. You can find them accessing:

1. The free resources offered by Cambridge Assessment English

2. The Cambridge YouTube channel offers speaking models on the new format.

We are happy to let you know that Eurolingva is offering preparation materials on the new format. You can acquire them online from our online shop.

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