[Everything below is for the old version of the exam, though a lot of it is still relevant. Emma Johnston has tips for the post-2015 version of the exam.]
*I generally try to avoid bragging, but hopefully that title will get a few more hits from search engines, and will help future Delta Module 1 candidates to find this post!
There is no one way to prepare for the Delta Module 1 exam, and everybody will do it differently. This is how I did it.
I studied with Distance Delta for all three modules, although I ended up taking Module 1 six months after the end of the course, meaning that I had time to prepare for it again. The feedback I got from my tutors during the preparation was very valuable, and although it is possible to prepare for the exam yourself, I think having support from a tutor makes it easier.
I also strongly believe that you should not do Module 3 (the extended assignment) at the same time as Module 1 (the exam), as they are normally both due at the same time, and you will end up dividing your attention instead of focussing on them each as much as they deserve. They’re both pretty full-time in terms of headspace, even if you don’t have to spend as much time doing written work for Module 1.
I have a list of useful links for Delta, which includes all of the sources I used to help me prepare for the exam, so I won’t repeat them here.
During my Distance Delta, I created three sets of index cards.
- Paper 1 reminder cards, summarising the mark scheme, the main things to remember when doing that paper, and any useful language I could steal from sample answers;
- The same for Paper 2;
- Key terms cards, with the term on one side and a definition (D), example (E) and further information (F) on the back. [Some people recommend DFE, but I liked alphabetical order!]
I had a break between the end of Distance Delta in June, and the start of my Module 1 prep in October. Two months before the exam I started looking at my key terms cards again. I used Quizlet to fill in some gaps in areas like phonology and teaching methods which I’d missed the first time round. I started taking sets of cards on the bus with me, about ten at a time, to test myself on during my commute. I spent time playing the games on Quizlet for general revision. I also took my paper 1 and 2 index cards on the bus to remind myself of the format of the exam and to start memorising some of the useful phrases.
About a month before the exam I started doing past papers. There aren’t many and I’d already done two during Distance Delta, so I needed to eke them out! I did one past exam each weekend for the three weekends before exam day. The first two times I did paper 1 on Saturday and paper 2 on Sunday, always with the 90-minute time limit, to get used to the time restrictions, and check whether I could meet them. The final time I did a full back-to-back mock with only a 30-minute break in the middle, as I would have to do on the real exam day. After I’d finished each time, I went through the guideline answers (in the exam report for each year), available on the Cambridge website, and marked the papers. I also wrote in big red letters anything which I’d missed out, particularly if it was connected to the structure of the exam or silly mistakes. Before doing the next paper, I looked at the red pen from the previous one again, and I didn’t normally repeat those mistakes!
During this process, I got a very useful tip from Lizzie Pinard:
Start every answer on a new page.
This may seem simple, but it made a huge difference to how clearly my answers were laid out. This resulted in me coming up with a system for each question based on the task requirements and guideline answers. This meant I didn’t have to keep reminding myself how many points I needed to make, or to check backwards and forwards to make sure I’d included all of the required information.
Below are examples of what I did for each question. I haven’t explained the structure of the exam at all, as you can find that out in many other places. Don’t forget to write the task number/part clearly at the top of each page in your answer booklet. Do anything you can to make the examiner’s life easier!
Paper 1 Task 1
The simplest task. Just do it quickly and don’t spend ages on a term you don’t know!
Paper 1 Task 2
Do this as you go along, and remember, define NO MORE THAN 4 terms! Use D, E, F (or D, F, E) to make each section of your answer clear. Make it clear what ‘D’ and ‘F’ mean at the top.
Paper 1 Task 3
Write the numbers 1-5 and the ‘eg’s as soon as you start task 3, before you even read the question! I always wrote ‘style/discourse’ at the top, because I originally forgot to include those features in my analysis, having focussed just on grammar and lexis. I also wrote the level of the student at the top of my paper so I remembered to refer my answers clearly to this level.
Paper 1 Task 4a
Again, write the numbers before you look at the question to remind you of how many points to include. Leave a bit of space at the bottom so you can add an extra point if you have time at the end.
Paper 1 Tasks 4b, c, d
The exact layout of these questions depends on exactly what language and areas (e.g. form, meaning, usage, features of connected speech) you are asked to analyse.
Start a new page for each task (b, c, d) and use clear headings for each piece of language and each area. I found it easiest to divide my answers according to the piece of language, then to subdivide it by the areas I had to analyse. Put the headings in as you go along, but leave yourself a lot of space to add extra points if you think of them later. I generally had about half a page for each piece of language. There’s plenty of space in the exam booklet!
Here are some examples.
Paper 1 Task 5a
This is another one to write out before you start answering the question. By using a table and including ‘eg’ in each box, you remember to include three strengths and three weaknesses, and not get too carried away with adding extras. Don’t forget to clearly state the area you are writing about for each strength/weakness (e.g. grammar, task achievement) and to make sure you only write about areas requested in the question!
Paper 1 Task 5b
The use of the two headings ‘area to prioritise’ and ‘because’ save you a lot of words!
Paper 2 Task 1
Here you should have two pages on the go at the same time, one for ‘positive’ and one for ‘negative’. This means you can jump backwards and forwards between the two and you have plenty of space.
Paper 2 Task 2a
This was another task where you need plenty of space to go backwards and forwards. Write a clear title for each exercise you need to analyse from the materials, then use bullet points under each. Start each bullet point with ‘To + infinitive’ to make sure you’re focussing on the purpose of the exercises and not what the students have to do to complete them.
Paper 2 Task 2b
Using ‘A’ for Assumptions and ‘R1’/’R2’ for reasons helped me to remember to include all three parts. Write them as you go along.
Paper 2 Task 3
This one is very simple. You just have to make sure you include enough bullet points!
Paper 2 Task 4
This task is complete pot-luck, as you have no idea what you’ll be asked about. As a general rule, use a different page for each section of the question. For example, if you’re asked ‘Why is homework a good thing?’ and ‘Why is homework a bad thing?’, put the answer to each part on a different page. [Totally made-up question!] I numbered the points as I wrote them on each list, to make sure I got a total of 20 points (2 marks per answer, 1-10 on each list for example).
A lot of the preparation for Delta Module 1 is nothing to do with teaching at all (I won’t mention here how much that frustrates me, since it’s supposed to be a mark of your ability as a teacher, not as an exam-taker…). By using a clear layout and knowing the requirements of the exam inside out, you’ll help yourself a lot.
Collect key terms, test yourself on them, and include them in your answers, but only where appropriate. Don’t try to include them just for the sake of it (especially in the questions on testing!).
Use bullet points, not full sentences. The examiners are looking for content, not linguistic ability.
Use the guideline answers in the exam reports to see what the examiners do and don’t like. Don’t try and be original – just tick the boxes!
If you have time (I didn’t), try out some of the exam-style tasks on your own materials and the work you get from your students. In theory, the requirements of the exam are supposed to help you in your analysis of materials/student work in your day-to-day work as a teacher by making this kind of analysis more efficient.
Finally, good luck! Get a good night’s sleep before, and you’ll get through it!
71 thoughts on “How I got a distinction in the Delta Module 1 exam*”
Sandy this looks like super useful resource for anyone doing module 1. I’ve forwarded it to a friend of mine who’s going to take the exam in June. I’m sure it will be useful for him. Well done on your distinction – you definitely deserve it!
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Thanks a lot Dale! 🙂
A lot of good test prep techniques that can be applied to any exam/ test. Will use them and teach a few to my 9 year old son as well.
Great ideas Sandy! Those cards look amazing. You should list them on ebay! Lol
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This is extremely helpful! I`m going to try the idea with marking the layout of an answer before writing anything. Thanks!
Sandy your blog has been a beacon of hope and support throughout this stressful journey!I finished M2 in June and now studying for M1 while also preparing for December’s M3 submission…thank you for taking the time to prepare all this, you should be paid by Cambridge, not to mention saving the trouble from all the centres that are not nearly as organised as you are yet they are making tons of money…thank you again
Thank you so much for the comment – it makes it all worth it 🙂 I found Delta such a stressful and unenjoyable experience that anything I can do to help other people and make it more enjoyable for them is a good thing!
Good luck with everything,
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thank you Sandy!Just so you know, you come up in conversation with my Delta comrades every day…we all love you 🙂 best wishes from the greek team!xxx
Your tips have been extremely valuable to me. I prepared for M1 on my own so I used all the advice I could get. I really enjoyed the experience although it wasn’t always easy to find the time to study. I got a ‘pass with distinction’ and planning to move on to M3 this year. Thank you for all the useful tips. I’ll go on following your posts.
Well done Ioana! Happy to have been able to help! Good luck with M3 🙂
Just wanted to say a big thank you for posting all the tips and links to advice about studying for the module 1 exam. They really helped me get my head around what I needed to do and helped me structure my revision.
I just found out that I passed the June 2014 exam with distinction too!!! Thanks for taking the time to establish this website to help others.
Congratulations and thanks for the message!
Well done! Feel free to brag 🙂
Greetings from Egypt and thanks a million, I read your tips carefully and I am willing to follow them.
Sandy, you put everything so succinctly! This page pretty much sums up the module 1 course I’ve just done. Very useful for preparing for my mock exam today – thank you!
Happy to help 🙂 Good luck with the exam!
What a fantastic thing to do for others. I have been tentatively looking at Delta yet I have only just passed my Celta. I don’t even have my first job yet. On finding your helps and tips here it makes it look a lot less scary. Well done and Happy New Year.
Thank you, and good luck!
OW! I think this post is absolutely amazing! Well done on getting a distinction! Love all of your tips and ideas! You gave me a big injection of motivation right now!
Thanks a million! 🙂
Thank you and good luck!
beautiful work Sandy…just as beautiful as your smile
….I have learnt a lot from you…priceless information…truly appreciate it
Do you recommend the full time, part time , or distance one? I have an option to do DETLA without prior TESOL /TEFL qualification … Do you feel I should do the CELTA or equivalent first?
Thanks for your time
Thanks for the comment Ali.
I would recommend face-to-face over distance. As for full-time or part-time, that depends on what is available where you are. Many people say that while full-time is hard work, it’s also great because it means you can concentrate fully on what you’re doing.
If you don’t have previous TESOL accreditation, taking the Delta is going to involve a lot of new concepts, and possibly a whole new way of approaching teaching, which may add a lot to an already challenging course. If you aren’t in any rush to get it and you have the chance, then taking the CELTA first could be a good stepping stone. I’d also recommend looking at my ‘Preparing for the Delta’ page – the link is on the Delta tab above.
Good luck whatever you decide to do!
Thanks for all your very insightful entries! Look, I’m supposed to be getting my Delta M1 Exam results on Friday, July 31st… Major freak-out! Anyway, I did the integrated programme and finished all three modules at around the same time. I know you didn’t, but from what you’ve heard from other Deltees, do we get the results of all three modules at the same time? Or do we only get the M1 Exam results?
I’m really trying to calm down here… But it’s getting increasingly difficult!
I think you get all of the results at the same time. Remember there’s not a lot you can do now, so enjoy the next few days, and I hope you get the results you want to on Friday!
Hello Sandy, Congratulations on your MODULE ONE Distinction. I did the Delta in 2014 Sept-Dec. I unfortunately failed module ONE exam but wasn’t too disappointed at the time as I passed Module two with a better grade than I had expected and passed module 3 somehow. Not sure how? It seemed to be all over the place. Any way, since then, I have been meaning to resit module One , and didn’t manage to do this at all in 2015 because i needed to work full time. London isn’t cheap!. I am facing the same dilemma this year and just started to think about doing this in June 1st. As most of the work i will need to do will be over the weekends with perhaps an evening or two during the week if I am lucky (assuming workload from work is not too much), do you realistically think about 6 weeks is enough time. I have done absolutely no work since December 2014 exam and, unlike you I am not too good with exams> Would you advise me doing this in six weeks or wait until December 7th, 2016. I don’t really want to fail this gain, but is a pass doable in just six weeks starting from scratch again just by looking at all the past papers. I would be more than happy with a pass. Believe me, I put so much into Module 2 and 3. Module one is the only one standing in my way. To tell you the truth, I have a bit of a phobia about module one. When i look at the questions I panic due to the time constraint or have no clear idea of the task. How would you advise me to revise either short term or long term? Your help and advise will mean a great deal. You obviously have it down to a tee. Many thanks. look forward to hearing from you
I can’t guarantee anything either way, but if you have successfully managed modules two and three, then you already have some of the terminology you need to do the exam, so that should improve your confidence. You can also increase your knowledge of terminology gradually, for example by playing some of the games on Quizlet each day: https://quizlet.com/class/379723/ You can use it offline too, so you don’t need to be connected to the internet to play.
If writing quickly is a problem for you, practice handwriting in other ways to increase your speed, for example by keeping a journal about your daily life or your teaching. If you feel more comfortable writing by hand, that will take a little of the pressure off. Unless there is an urgent reason to do it now, I would prepare yourself more slowly and plan a revision strategy for yourself, for example by doing three or four hours every weekend instead of putting a lot of pressure on. Have a go at doing a paper under exam conditions within the time limit, then use the mark scheme to work out your weak areas and how much you need to work on. That should also help you to decide whether to do it in June or December.
Remember that you don’t have to do the exam in London (or are you based there?) – there are many other centres all over the world which run it, and are probably cheaper.
If you are really worried about doing the exam, consider doing a preparation course for the module if you can afford it. The support you get from the tutors should reassure you and help you to feel more confident in the exam. I believe that both International House Online Teacher Training and Bell offer six week preparation courses.
Whatever you decide to do, good luck!
Many thanks for your in-depth reply. I didn’t realise doing the DELTA could make someone so wise. I guess you have always had this in your locker and probably why you got a distinction. What you say makes perfect sense, and as I have done Module 2 and 3, perhaps i know a lot more than i know. Thanks for the alternatives and practical solutions. Having weighed up what you have said, there is no rush for me to sit module 1 in June. December this year will allow me to pace myself and as i can only work weekends, it seems a practical solution. You’re not just a pretty face!!! I don’t need to pressurize myself and have sleepless nights trying frantically to to learn everything.
Your layout advice of how to space answers in the exam booklet really makes sense! And you are right again! You can know a lot and yet if it is chaotically laid out, the examiner is unlikely to award you any marks. Getting the examiner on your side and making his life easier really hit the nail on the head. Ironic really when I consider that this is what I say to my IELTS students all the time with their writing exam. And yet, its taken someone in the same profession to point this out.
I will look at the revision courses as well should i need extra help and tutor feedback.
Much appreciative for all your help and advice, and support you have given me, and having the presence of mind in pointing out things I didn’t consider. You obviously care about your work in the same way I do, as 7 years ago I completely changed my career from being an accountant to TEFL, even though it happened purely by accident. Many thanks again, and for the time and trouble in replying so promptly. It’s appreciated on a different level.
It’s a pleasure 🙂 Good luck!
I am currently getting ready to take the DELTA module 1 exam and I can’t say enough how useful your advice has been. I wondered if you still had your word lists on quizlet it would be very helpful if you did.
Happy to be able to help. All of the word lists are still on Quizlet. You can find all of the links on my ‘Preparing for the Delta’ post if I remember rightly!
Good luck with the exam,
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this Sandy. I am starting Delta later this summer and am already nervous about the module 1 examination! I have already started some pre-reading but this is a very useful study guide for those of us who haven’t taken examinations since school/university.
Best of luck to everyone starting Delta this year!
Hi Sandy! I’ve commented on this post before (writing as mikeandyulia) and I just wanted to say that not only did this post help me get my own distinction, your blog as a whole inspired me to start my own blog for all things ELT. I just finished a post with some tips for Module 1 and it was tough because you give such good and specific advice. I included a link to your post and a description though because I can’t say enough how useful and helpful it is. https://yuliyasperoffblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/delta-module-1-tips/
Thank you so much for your comment. It’s great to hear that you’ve found my blog useful and that you’ve started your own. I’m off to read it now 🙂
Thanks Sandy for the tips. I will definitely try them out before taking the exam.
Thanks for these awesome tips Sandy !
I’ve done my TESOL and want to do DELTA 1-self study, where do I register for the exam?
How do I get the study material if I’m self studying …just have 6 weeks and would really appreciate your advice.
Sorry for taking a couple of weeks to reply to this – I completely forgot the comment was there :s ELT Concourse has the most comprehensive set of self-study materials I’ve found: http://www.eltconcourse.com/training/inservice/delta/mod1/m1course/m1courseindex.html I hope it’s not too late!
Great blog Ms. Sandy.
Quick question- i need your sincere advice on delta module 1 online. I am a full-time english language coach at a private college in Saudi Arabia. We have a tight schedule of observations, workshops and training sessions.
But I want to do the delta mod 1. Do you think, its advisable to do it along with work or in vacation? I would appreciate any advice on this.
Thank you for the comment. I think that if you have the option you will probably find that it is easier to find the time to dedicate to Module One during your vacation time, although make sure you do still get some time off too. It can be challenging to combine elements of Delta with full-time work, though a lot of people do manage it.
I’ve also just read this post, which might help you: https://sergiopantojaelt.wordpress.com/2018/01/11/delta-module-1-with-distinction-done/
Not sure why you have contacted me but I have already passed Delta module 1 with a Merit. And Module 2 also with a merit and module 3 with a pass.
Perhaps you may think about giving advice on Modules 2 and the course design module 3. These are probably more difficult and student do not seem to maximise their grade.
I have helped a couple of students with the course design, they found this very useful as writing lengthy essays was not easy for them.
Something you may want to think about.
Best wishes, Harmail
I think you may have subscribed to comments on this post, as there are two previous messages from you in the comment thread, which is why you got a message from my blog.
Well done for getting your Merit in module 1 and for passing the course overall.
I have some other Delta information covering all of the modules at https://sandymillin.wordpress.com/delta. I wrote this post separately as I had more time to do it than while I was doing the other two modules (I did module 1 six months later). I agree that it can be challenging to get high grades in all three modules, and hopefully the recommendations that people can find via the link above can help them.
Delta Module 1 – Let’s do this! Thanks so much for your fantastic tips, Sandy. I’m self studying as prep courses are really expensive here in Switzerland, then taking the exam in Barcelona after a few days relaxing in the sunshine with some good music 🙂
Are you going to the Iatefl Conference in Brighton in April?
I’ll be there. Good luck!
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Dear Sandy Thank you is a very small word for all you have done for so many future Deltees. I am one of them. I would like to share my story with you once I hopefully complete my Delta journey. I was on DELTA course in 2007 and deferred the course after 6 months due to many other commitments. I was not ready for Delta for about 10 years for some reasons. I have now decided to take a plunge as I feel ready for it and can not afford to leave it any later. Had I tried to do Delta before, perhaps I was not mentally ready for it. I’ve now enrolled on DD Module 1 and my course begins today. I learnt a lot from your blog and from your Delta conversations link where so many of stories are being shared that gives much motivation. Again, thanks to all those who contributed and a heartfelt gratitude goes to you for helping others in taking Delta journey. You are a real inspiration for me and I m sure for many out there.
Sandy, I am just concerned about the issue of reading for M1. A lot of bloggers say that reading BEFORE the course is highly recommended, however, in my case, I have not done any due to lack of time and circumstances. Although, I have set aside a couple of hours each day for reading- I am not sure if that would be sufficient? I have noted all your tips you recommended for Module1, therefore, do you think it is manageable to read along side the course and working less than full time hours.
I am not thinking about M2 and M3 until I complete the first 1. I am aware that exams can be taken in Dec too but I’d prefer in June as I already started my Delta journey much late.
Your advice will be great and much valuable.
Best regards and always great respect for you.
Thank you for such a lovely message, and for letting me know that what’s here has been helpful for you.
I wouldn’t worry too much about extra reading if you haven’t managed to fit it in – I’d say that’s more useful for the other two modules. The biggest things you can probably do to help yourself along with the course you’re already on are getting Damian William’s How to Pass the Delta book, and Scott Thornbury’s About Language. There are also useful resources on ELT Concourse. If you’re planning to do the exam in June and can manage a couple of hours a day of practice consistently, that means 10 hours a week between now and then. The course should guide you in terms of knowing how to do the exam (exam technique can be a big factor), and you can use the other things to supplement it.
Good luck, and I look forward to hearing from you when you’re out the other side!
My dear Sandy
Thank you once again for your valuable gems of advice. I feel great to know that I can manage the course with good planning and consistent practice as you suggested despite of not doing my bit of prior reading. I will definitely look into the books you suggested!
Will share my story hopefully from the other side of the tunnel :))
Sending my best regards to you and much gratitude!
I need to contact you via email. Please if it is possible to reach you? Thanks a lot. ZS
Thank you very much for taking the time and effort to provide such a valuable resource.
I am due to take the M1 exam in June.
I have completed an online course and now concentrating on exam practice.
You mention on your site that there are 4 past papers available; where can I find them? There is one on the Cambridge site but I have no idea where to find others!
I’m not sure if that information is still true, as this was for the old version of the exam. It’s been updated since then. I will ask and see if I can find out for you.
what is the recommended reading list for delta module 1 ? thanks for your efforts
Take a look at Useful Links for Delta to give you some ideas of reading matter and other people’s lists of things you might find it useful to read.