TKT or CELTA? – Which way to go?

Hello Exam Seekers,

Many teachers when they start their teaching pathway, come across the CELTA and the TKT. Usually referred to by colleagues in the area or as a job requirement. Even though they do some research on the topic, these teachers still don’t know if they should do one or the other.

When I started my pathway to teaching, I came across these two acronyms, but fortunately, I heard about them separately, which gave me some time to study them both. However, as I mentioned, many teachers don’t know much about them. So today, let’s talk about some of the differences between the TKT and the CELTA.

The TKT or The CELTA Course
The TKT or The CELTA Course

What is the TKT?

As you may know, the TKT stands for Teaching Knowledge Test. It is an 80-question test from Cambridge that assesses your basic teaching knowledge.

The TKT is divided into:

  • 3 core modules:
    • TKT: Module 1 – Language and background to language learning and teaching
    • TKT: Module 2 – Lesson planning and use of resources for language teaching
    • TKT: Module 3 – Managing the teaching and learning process.

These 80-question tests can be taken together or separately. Each takes up to 120 minutes.

What is the CELTA?

The CELTA, differently from the TKT, is a course. It stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching for Adults actually known as Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Therefore, it is not just an exam that you sit, do, and leave; it is a 120 hours course that comprises written assignments, assessed teaching practices, input sessions, and watching classes.


What are the requirements?

There are not many requirements. Both the TKT and the CELTA are suitable for people who are already teachers and want to specialize themselves in the field or are training to become teachers.

There is just the age requirement, especially for the CELTA, which is 18 or above. And the English level requirement:

  • TKT: Minimum CEFR Level B1 (B1 Preliminary) or a 4.0 in IELTS.
  • CELTA: Minimum CEFR Level C1.

For all these reasons, the CELTA is considered a higher-level qualification than the TKT.

What are the differences between the CELTA and the TKT?

The biggest differences between these two besides the fact that one is an exam and the other is a course are the number of hours you spend with them.

You can take the TKT without taking a course, which will take you basically 120 min from your day. However, it is just expected that you know the syllabus and are aware of the methodologies and names that they will ask on the tests. And for that, you can self-study with the book, or take a prep course.

On the other hand, for the CELTA you do have to spend several hours planning classes, watching classes, applying lessons, and writing assignments. There are books about the CELTA and there is also the bibliography for the course. So it’s a long path here.

There is also the difference in ways you can take both. Since the TKT is an exam, you have to go presently to take the tests; meanwhile, for the CELTA, you can choose either to take it half online (watching classes and input sessions) and half in person (applying the classes), or the full course presently. And you also have the option of taking the CELTA full time, which takes a whole month, or part-time, which takes several weeks (one day of each at least).

Another interesting difference is that there is no pass or fail for the TKT. You are assessed, so you can do very well and score a band 4, or you can do badly and score a band 1. Meanwhile, the CELTA is a pass or fail course and you also can score higher levels: Pass, Pass A, or Pass B.


Which one should I take first?

If you don’t have a high level of English (C1-C2), it is advisable that you start with the TKT while you study hard and improve your English skills. On the other hand, if you are at a C1 or C2 level and do not feel ready to take the CELTA, you are can take the TKT.

The TKT is a certificate that proves that you know basic theory in teaching English as a foreign language. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are able to apply the theory. Meanwhile, the CELTA is a certificate that proves that you know how to implement this theory since you have practice.

A while ago, there was the TKT: Practical, which offered 40 hours of observed teaching, but it was discontinued after a revision for Cambridge 2015 exams. Therefore, you now only have the option of putting this theory into practice by taking the CELTA.

All in all, it’s a personal choice. I myself took the three modules of the TKT before taking a CELTA. Firstly I got to know the theory and once I took the CELTA much of the syllabus was already incorporated. So I would say that it is nice to take the TKT first (and of course, study for it), then taking the CELTA. It’s a nice stepping stone, choose your path carefully and walk along! 🙂


I hope I have cleared some questions there. If you have some more, write a comment in the comment section below.

How can I self-study them?

Ah… here are the books for you to read and study by yourself:

If you are buying from Brazil, the link to the CELTA Course Book is here and the TKT Course Book is here, but if you are buying from other countries, the links are above.


That’s it for today! Please like the post and follow the blog on:

You can also listen to this post at Anchor!!!

Have a great week,
Patricia Moura


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