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How are teachers performing in the new TKT?
by Nadezda Novakovic, Research & Validation Group,
University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations
- 2

Candidates were asked whether they were qualified to teach English and other subjects, and how many years of teaching experience they had. Although 79% of candidates responded to being qualified to teach English in their country, the extent of their teaching experience ranged from no experience to 11 years or more of teaching experience. At the time of taking the test, most of the candidates had been in the teaching profession for 6 years or more (52%), while 28% have been teaching between 2 and 5 years. Twenty percent of the candidates had less than a year’s experience.

The fact that candidates had a wide range of teaching experiences and came from many different teaching contexts, shows that both experienced and inexperienced teachers are finding the test relevant and useful. For less experienced candidates, TKT is a step in their professional development and enables them to move onto higher level teaching qualifications. For more experienced candidates, TKT offers an opportunity to refresh their teaching knowledge, and where applicable, forms a benchmark for teachers of subjects other than English who started teaching English as a foreign language.

TKT Chart 2

The reasons test takers gave for taking TKT varied from professional development and career advancement, to international recognition and employer’s requirements. Professional development, however, was chosen as the main reason by the majority of candidates.

A detailed analysis of candidates’ performance with respect to their teaching experience showed that, at times, there was indeed a statistically significant difference in performance between candidates with more and candidates with less teaching experience. There was a statistically significant difference on all Modules between the performance of candidates with no teaching experience and candidates with 11 years of experience and more.

However, despite differences revealed by statistical analyses, the majority of candidates achieved the higher end of the scale, i.e. Band 3 and 4, with only a small percentage being awarded Band 1 or 2. Looking at Band 4, though, we find that it was awarded to 48% of candidates with 6 years of experience or more, 39% of candidates with 2–5 years of experience, and 22% of candidates with up to 1 year of experience. This would suggest that the more experienced candidates are, the more of them achieve Band 4.

The high percentage of candidates who achieved Bands 3 and 4 is not surprising, bearing in mind the nature of the test itself. As TKT has not been designed to test either candidates’ language ability or their performance in the classroom, it is expected that any candidate who has covered the syllabus and is familiar with various approaches to teaching and learning, as well as relevant ELT terminology, should be able to perform successfully on the exam.

Future research plans for TKT, carried out as part of the standard activities to assess the impact and develop exams, will include a study of the comparison of performance between candidates with specialist and those with non-specialist knowledge of English language teaching.

This is a follow up article to the following:
The development of the Teacher Knowledge Test

A key feature of TKT is the level of support provided by Cambridge. This includes free online resources for trainers and candidates at and a dedicated textbook, The TKT Course, published by Cambridge University Press.

More information on TKT is available from

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