A2 Key

What is A2 Key?

A2 Key is an examination at elementary level (CEFR A2). Achieving a certificate at this level proves that you can use English to communicate in simple situations.

The A2 Key English certificate shows the candidate’s score on the Cambridge English Scale for each of the three exam papers, overall score on the Cambridge English Scale and a grade: A – ‘Distinction’; B – ‘Pass with Merit’; or C – ‘Pass’:

  • Distinction (Grade A): a scale score of 140 – 150 (CEFR B1)
  • Pass with Merit (Grade B): a scale score of 133 – 139 (CEFR A2)
  • Pass (Grade C): a scale score of 120 – 132 (CEFR A2)
  • Level A1: a scale score of 100 – 119

If you achieve a Grade A (Distinction) in your exam, you will receive a A2 Key English Test certificate stating that you demonstrated ability at Level B1 (similar to B1 Preliminary). If you achieve a Grade B or Grade C (Pass with Merit or Pass), you will receive a A2 Key English Test certificate at Level A2. If a candidate’s performance is below Level A2, but falls within Level A1, they will receive a Cambridge English certificate stating that they demonstrated ability at Level A1.

A2 Key has 3 papers

Reading and Writing

1 hour 10 mins

Candidates need to be able to understand simple written information, such as: signs; information leaflets; and short newspaper articles.


approx 30 mins

Candidates need to show they can follow and understand a range of spoken materials, such as announcements, when people speak reasonably slowly.


8-10 mins

Candidates are tested on their ability to take part in a conversation on familiar topics by answering and asking simple questions.


More about the exam format

Exam preparation materials

Sample papers to prepare the reading, listening and writing parts are available on the Cambridge Assessment English website.

If you are interested in effective ways of learning English and improving your language skills, please visit the Learning English section of the Cambridge Assessment English website, where you can find various exam resources and preparation materials, including free English games and online learning resources.

The Language Testing Centre at St Petersburg University also holds A2 Key for Schools. This exam is targeted at the same CEFR level and has the same structure as A2 Key, but with content aimed at school-age learners rather than adults.