The CELTA Grading System Unravelled

There are four possible grades you can be awarded at the end of your CELTA Course,

  • two “above standard” grades – Pass A & Pass B
  • one “to standard” grade – Pass
  • one “not to standard” grade – Fail

The fail grade is rarely awarded but that’s not because the course is easy, instead because the application process ensures candidates who are likely to struggle are not accepted on a course.

So what do the grades really mean?

Pass A

An A grade tells any employer in the know that the holder has proven he/she:

  • is capable of planning a lesson effectively with very little guidance,
  • can analyse target language thoroughly
  • is able to select suitable resources and tasks to help his/her learners develop their language and language skills.

It also suggests that he/she:

  • can deliver effective language and language skills lessons successfully
  • has shown a very good awareness of learners
  • can reflect on his/her own key strengths and weaknesses and consistently use these reflections to develop their teaching.

Pass B

A B grade tells any employer in the know that the holder has proven he/she:

  • is capable of planning a lesson effectively with some guidance,
  • can analyse target language well
  • is able to select suitable resources and tasks to help his/her learners develop their language and language skills.

It also suggests that he/she:

  • can deliver effective language and language skills lessons successfully
  • has shown a good awareness of learners
  • can reflect on his/her own key strengths and weaknesses and generally use these reflections to develop their teaching.

Pass

A straight Pass tells any employer in the know that the holder has proven he/she:

  • is capable of planning a lesson effectively with guidance
  • is able to select suitable resources and tasks to help his/her learners develop their language and language skills.

It also suggests that he/she:

  • can deliver effective language and language skills lessons with a degree of success
  • has shown some awareness of learners
  • can reflect on some key strengths and weaknesses and generally use these reflections to develop their teaching

Fail

Fail is awarded to a candidate who has failed 2 or more written assignments and/or has not matched all of the Pass criteria.  Before a candidate can be “awarded” a fail grade he/she will have had a fail warning letter and will have been explicity told exactly which criteria he/she is failing in and will have been advised of which areas to work on to avoid a fail grade.

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How many lessons do I have to pass to pass the course?

There are no fixed number of lessons that one has to have “passed” in order to pass the course.  It goes without saying, if you have passed all teaching practice and written assignments you can assume you have passed the course.  If you have been graded as not to standard in one lesson, don’t worry this doesn’t mean you will fail, it just means that you have not met the pass criteria for that particular lesson.  Make sure you take note of the points to work on given to you by your tutor and ensure you do this in later lessons.

You will have progress reports during the course so you should be in no doubt as to whether you are progressing well or not.  Towards the end of the course your tutor may also indicate whether an above standard grade is possible for you to achieve.

Sidebar

In all my years of teaching, I have never once been asked which grade I got!  (Between me and you, I got a straight Pass 😉 ).  Interestingly, candidates from North America have stated that if they can’t get an ‘A’ they would rather “just” pass because a ‘B’ doesn’t look good.   I keep meaning to pass this feeedback on to Cambridge but have not managed to as yet…. What do you think?

Please don’t get hung up on grades, in my experience, those who are aiming to get an A or B tend to struggle becuase they are not concentrating on the relevant things pointed out by their tutor.  Just enjoy the course and let your tutor worry about what grade you should receive!

Have you already done CELTA?  What grade did you get?

 

While you’re here…..

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Author: Emma Jones

A CELTA Tutor based in Munich and co-author of The Ultimate Guide to CELTA

26 thoughts on “The CELTA Grading System Unravelled”

  1. I had a horrible CELTA experience. My tutor was so bias against me. She failed me on one of my assignments. On trying to get an outside CELTA instructor to give me a fair feedback.
    I passed, but really, it was the worst !

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    1. I’m so sorry to hear that you had a horrible experience. Presumably you had a chance to resubmit the assignment before it became a fail with clear guidance of what was required to pass it? There is always an external assessor that comes in to assess the course, including the marking of written assignments as well as well as a double-marking scheme among the tutors, it is unlikely that it is one tutor that has failed the assignment. It would be very hard for me to comment on the marking as every centre has their own rubrics. I hope the experience hasn‘t put you off continuing in the EFL world.

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  2. Thanks for the nice info. I’m still waiting for my grade. We’ve just finished the course. I had one lesson where my LA wasn’t up to S. And I had to resubmit a few assignments. So I’m not getting A, that’s for sure. There’s no way to know beforehand. Is a pass a low grade, though?

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    1. Hi Ruslan, firstly, well done for completing the course!! As long as you didn‘t have a 3rd tutorial, the likelihood is that you will get a Pass. A pass is fantastic and what the majority of people get (including me!)

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      1. Oh hi Emma, thanks for the prompt reply) no, there was no third tutorial. We had a few girls whose English wasn’t very clear and they made a lot of mistakes in spelling and pronunciation, etc, and they got a lot of these S+, but that’s probably okay. What’s important is the method, not the language, isn’t it? Anyway, thanks a lot)

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      2. Oh hi Emma, thanks for the prompt reply) no, there was no third tutorial. We had a few girls whose English wasn’t very clear and they made a lot of mistakes in spelling and pronunciation, etc, and they got a lot of these S+, but that’s probably okay. What’s important is the method, not the language, isn’t it? Anyway, thanks a lot)

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  3. Dear Emma! I got my grade today, yes, you were right, it is a pass. And today’s my birthday! Anyway, I was wondering, is a pass a good grade? Cause people keep arguing on the subject. There’s another thing I’d like to know, some time, some day in the future, if I ever think of doing the Delta, say, module one, will a pass present a problem for me? I may be asking a stupid question. Sorry for being so dumb.

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  4. Dear Emma! I got my grade today, yes, you were right, it is a pass. And today’s my birthday! Anyway, I was wondering, is a pass a good grade? Cause people keep arguing on the subject. There’s another thing I’d like to know, some time, some day in the future, if I ever think of doing the Delta, say, module one, will a pass present a problem for me? I may be asking a stupid question. Sorry for being so dumb. I’m just curious and don’t seem to find it unravelled, really. Will be thankful to you, anyway)

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  5. Hi Emma. I think I used the wrong form for the comment. Anyway, I just wanted to know: I just got my ‘pass’ grade, and I wonder if I ever want to do the Delta in the far future, would it be possible with the pass grade, or only A and B can do the Delta? And one more thing, this final grade in the report, does it mean it can be changed, because it says it hasn’t yet been confirmed. Thanks for reading that, sorry to be writing a lot, I’m just curious.

    Have a nice day))

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    1. Hi Ruslan

      Your comments are welcome, I’m sure other people reading this will have similar questions.

      You can definitely aim for Delta in a couple of years‘ time with a Pass grade. Ideally you will have a good two years‘ experience before doing Delta but the CELTA grade is irrelevant, it‘s what you do next that counts!

      The grade is unlikely to change but isn‘t confirmed until you receive the certificate. What you have now is a „Provisional Grade“ which is waiting for approval/confirmation from the Assessor and/or Cambridge.

      Good luck with your teaching career!

      Emma

      Like

  6. Hi Emma,

    Reaching out here to ask your expertise.

    I just recently completed the CELTA, and got given a pass grade (currently still provisional, waiting for my certificate). I know everybody says that a pass is still a great grade, but I have to admit, I’m a little disheartened. The reasons being:

    1) I didn’t fail a single lesson – I achieved 4 to standards and 4 above standards (and one of the to standards was marked ‘to standard with strengths’ and in the feedback the tutor wrote it was very close to an above standard lesson).

    2) I was commended on my planning throughout the whole course. I was told all of my lesson plans and LA’s were ‘meticulous’, and I was also commended on the fact that I planned pretty much independently right from the start of the course. In terms of the pass criteria, I was planning with ‘some’ guidance as stated in Pass B, arguably ‘very little’ guidance as stated in pass A. This was commented on in my lesson feedback sheets, my stage 2 tutorial notes, and I wrote about it as one of my strengths for assignment 4. I therefore feel somewhat hard done by that I’ve been given a grade that states I can plan a lesson effectively ‘with guidance’, when I was told all the way through the course that I was planning almost entirely independently and that the planning I was doing was ‘meticulous’.

    3) One of the reasons why I was able to plan so independently right from the start of the course is because I am actually already a PGCE qualified English teacher, with a 2:1 degree in English Language. I did the CELTA as an ‘add-on’ to my teaching, and to give me the opportunity to branch out into possibly teaching adults (my teaching career has so far been spent teaching English in secondary schools, both in the UK and the Middle East).

    I have to admit, I do feel a little bit hard done by. When I started the course, people expected me to sail through, as I’m already a qualified English teacher, however I felt in parts that this seemed to make it more difficult. I felt that there were incredibly high expectations on me by the tutors, and truthfully by myself, and I don’t think this helped. I knew I was never on track for a Pass A, but I was told in my stage 2 tutorial that I was on track for a Pass B. At that point I’d taught 4 lessons – 2 to standard, 2 above standard. I performed equally as well in the second half of the course (2 to standard, 2 above standard) and actually performed better in the assignments (in the first half of the course I had to re-sub one of the first two assignments, in the second half I passed both assignments first time) and yet the ‘on track to get a Pass B’ at the beginning of week 3 apparently turned into just a Pass by the end of the course.

    Ultimately, I know that a pass is still a good grade, and saying as the CELTA is simply an add-on to my teaching qualifications/career, a pass is truthfully all I needed. However, I know for example one of the other students on my course achieved 7 ‘to standard grades’, 1 ‘not to standard’ and had to re-sub 3 out of 4 of his assignments, and yet he also came out with a pass. Feels incredibly unfair to me that I can perform significantly higher in both teaching and assignments, yet we end up with the same grade.

    I was just wondering if this is a normal situation in CELTA – to achieve 4 above standards, no fails, pass first time on 3/4 assignments and be told your planning is ‘meticulous’ and ‘you have been planning your lessons successfully with little guidance right from the beginning of the course’ – and still only achieve a pass?

    A disheartened English teacher 😦

    Like

    1. Hi Hayley

      Sorry to hear that you are disheartened. It’s difficult for me to comment as I am not from the centre where you took the course. Every centre has different ways of grading, some only have “to standard” or “fail” grades for individual lessons and only at stage one/two/three tutorials are trainees really made aware of their grading for the stage of the course.

      Firstly, for anyone else who might be reading this, I think it is important to point out that CELTA has different criteria to the PGCE so can’t really be compared.

      If you were graded as “above standard” at stage 2 and were not told otherwise after the stage 2 tutorial then you should certainly have been awarded an above standard grade at the end of the course. However, perhaps you were graded as to standard at stage 2, if this is the case then you would not necessarily be able to expect an above standard grade at the end of the course.

      NB If a centre gives you an above standard rating in the CELTA 5 at stage 2 and then it looks like you are not going to be above standard at the end of the course, they have to give you a stage 3 report telling you what you need to do to be graded as above standard at the end of the course. If this didn’t happen then you would have grounds for complaint.

      Personally, I am surprised, if you were graded as above standard in 50% of your lessons that you were not a Pass B in the end but not knowing how the centre works and exactly how they work the grading I am not really qualified to comment.

      To be honest, I think your best course of action is to raise all of these issues with the centre, if you don’t get a satisfactory response with a clear explanation as to why you did not come out with a Pass B then you should begin the complaints procedure.

      Let us know how you get on – good luck!

      Like

  7. Well, a pass is a good grade, isn’t it? I also expected A because I’ve been teaching for more than ten years overseas and I also felt a bit down when I got a pass. But as it was pointed out by Emma, and it is true, anyway, it is what you do after the course not the grade itself is what really matters. So, I understand you, Hayley, but head up! Keep up the good work! Show the world the best you can! And they will love you to the end!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Thank you for clarifying this for us. I’ve just completed my CELTA course in England and must admit it was a fantastic course. Knowledgeable tutors, incredible support and guidance, a course worth every penny. Throughout the course, I had 5 above-standard TPs and got excellent reviews on my assignments. My 2nd tutorial was practically a 2-minute praise session with nothing in particular to improve (no exaggeration). To my surprise, I (only) got a Pass B and am beyond disappointed. I know it sounds awkward and unappreciative, but I was aiming for more and did everything I could to get the best possible grade. I know employers don’t care much about these grades, but I feel as If I failed myself and what I honestly believe in was somehow overlooked. Is it possible to file a complaint and ask for a review of the grade.

    P.S. (Even my peers were shocked with my grade, but that is probably completely irrelevant).

    Thank you…

    Like

    1. Firstly, congratulations on passing the course and getting a well-earned B, that is really something to be proud of. The A difference between the A and the B all comes down to independent lesson planning and the understanding of your learners. I can’t comment on your grade but would suggest that you contact your tutor and ask why you missed out on an A. We tutors are always happy to clarify, especially if it puts our trainees’ minds at ease. I wouldn’t put in a formal complaint until you have an explanation from the centre.

      You will have signed something in the CELTA 5 regarding the complaints procedure, the general hierarchy is:
      1. tutor
      2. Course Director
      3. Head of dept
      4. Cambridge

      Come back and let us know the response.

      Like

      1. Hi Emma,

        Thank you for your selfless support. I really appreciate it and will certainly get back to you, as I’m seeking to understand my grade. At the end of the day, it not only certifies my achievements so far, but also shapes my development as a teacher in making a decision about my further CPD.

        Kind regards,

        Alex

        Liked by 1 person

    2. As it was once mentioned, it is what you do after the course is what counts. I got a Pass, and I was disappointed as well, and I had peers who didn’t put that much of an effort to do the stuff, but they got A. But a year later, I understood the practical value of the course, that’s when using things you learned at your lessons, and that’s what counts. A grade is just a grade. And that’s thanks to this site that I regained my self worth, namely, yo Emma and Amanda, who responded to my concern and made me see that what I actually do after the course is what makes it more valuable.

      Liked by 2 people

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