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Is it possible to fail a CELTA?

Updated: Jan 18

Is it possible to fail a CELTA?
95% of CELTA trainees pass their CELTA course

The short answer to this is ‘yes’ – it is possible to fail a CELTA course. Thankfully, this is extremely rare. The overwhelming majority of people who start a CELTA (somewhere around 95% of trainees) pass their course. This is a very comforting statistic. Remember, this is a beginner’s course in teaching English – you are not expected to be an expert teacher before, during or after the course. Expertise comes with years of experience and practice.

There are four possible outcomes at the end of your CELTA course.

Around 65% of CELTA candidates around the world receive a PASS grade at the end of their course. This is the most common grade awarded to trainee teachers and is an excellent achievement. It means you will have completed all course components to satisfactory level and you will have a certificate that will allow you to teach English as a foreign language abroad, in pretty much any country in the world.

There are also two graded passes which can be awarded. These are more difficult to achieve. PASS B is given to around 25% of CELTA graduates and a PASS A to less than 5%, making it a very rare result indeed. Cambridge Assessment have strict criteria for getting graded passes, one of which is that Pass A candidates need to demonstrate that by the end of the course, they will need no further support as a teacher. As we know, the CELTA course is a beginner’s course in teaching, where you will be observed teaching 6 hours’ worth of lessons to your students. If you’re coming to the course as a complete beginner, never having taught any English at all before the course (which a large majority of applicants have not) then it’s very, very rare to go from no experience to someone who needs no further support in only 6 hours’ worth of teaching. It’s not impossible and everyone should try and achieve the best grade that they can, but don’t make your sole purpose for doing a CELTA course to get a Pass A or Pass B. Enjoy the process, learn as much as you can in the short space of time that you have with your tutors. Ask questions, try out different things, make mistakes and learn from them.

Thankfully, around 95% of trainees are awarded one of the 3 pass grades previously mentioned. This leaves 5% of trainees who do not qualify with a certificate. Don’t panic about this too much – it really is a very low percentage and most people who do not pass are people who decide to leave the course before it finishes due to personal circumstances, lack of preparation before the course or because CELTA is simply not for them. Very rarely do people actually fail, but it is a possibility. Here is an in depth breakdown of CELTA results published by Cambridge Assessment.

Cambridge Assessment insist on a stringent interview process and you will not be accepted onto a course if a staff member at DC Teacher Training does not think you can pass the course.

So, although you are not 100% guaranteed to pass the CELTA, you can rest assured that if you have been successful in the interview process and accepted onto one our courses, there is a 95% chance that you will qualify with a certificate at the end of your course!

Danny Wilkins graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2009 with a degree in English and Drama Studies and went on to get his CELTA qualification in Manchester in 2012.  Since then he has taught English in over 10 countries including Taiwan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Austria, before settling in the UK. Danny has previously managed one of the largest CELTA centres in the UK and is thrilled to bring CELTA courses to Birmingham, having lived and graduated in the city.

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