DELTA Module 1 Tips

This post is part of a series of posts I wrote about my own experience of taking DELTA. The first post describing which DELTA preparation courses I took and how I did on my other Modules is here. As for Module 1, I took my Module 1 exam in December, 2014 and I got Pass with Distinction.


This is what you are allowed to bring into the exam room – some water, an ID and pens. These fine-point pens became my obsession in the run up to the exam. I single-handedly depleted my university stationary store’s supply of these pens.

Here are my tips on doing the DELTA Module 1:

Tip #1. Do your background reading and study the Handbook before the course starts 

This is the most important tip and I can’t emphasize enough – if you are doing a course to prepare for the exam, do your background reading BEFORE the start of the course. I learned this from my own mistakes. In 2014, it had been over a year after I did my CELTA and I had been planning to enroll in a Module 1 preparation course. When shopping around for courses, I saw that a course for the June exam was about to start, so I panicked and applied. After I was accepted, I started looking at the course materials and realized that I have no idea what’s happening. I decided that there is no way I’d be ready for the exam in June. I deferred the course to the following fall (a very cool thing that ITI Istanbul where I did my course lets you do – you can do the online course more than once!). Then I did what I should have done before I started:

  1. Study the DELTA Handbook so that I knew exactly what the exam consists of. You should know the layout of papers, how many tasks there are and how many points each part is worth. There is also specific advice in the handbook on how to approach each task. Finally, there is a sample exam with answers. Once you read all that and do the sample exam, you`ll get an idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are and you can prioritize your reading.
  2. Start on my reading. If you are doing a course, you`ll be provided with a list of suggested reading but here are some things that helped me.

First of all, here are the books that I found useful. I know it’s a huge list but some of these books are fairly short (especially the How to Teach… series) and you don’t need to read them from the beginning to end. Also, you will need most of these for Modules 2 and 3.

  • Brown, H. D. (2004). Language assessment: Principles and classroom practices. New York: Pearson/Longman.
  • Flowerdew, J., & Miller, L. (2005). Second Language Listening: Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hughes, A. (1989). Testing for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kelly, G. (2000). How to Teach Pronunciation. Harlow: Longman.
  • Larsen-Freeman, D. (2004). Techniques and principles in language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Parrot, M. (2007). Grammar for English language teachers:. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Richards, J. C., & Schmidt, R. W. (2002). Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics (3rd ed.). Harlow, Essex, England: Longman.
  • Thornbury, S. (2006) An A-Z of ELT: A Dictionary of Terms and Concepts Used in English Language Teaching. Oxford, UK.: Macmillan Education.
  • Thornbury, S. (2005). Beyond the Sentence: Introducing Discourse Analysis.. Oxford: Macmillan Education, 2005.
  • Thornbury, S. (2005). How to teach speaking. Harlow, England: Longman.
  • Thornbury, S. (2002). How to teach vocabulary. Harlow: Longman.
  • Thornbury, S. (1999). How to teach grammar. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.
  • Thornbury, S. (1997). About language: Tasks for teachers of English. Cambridge teacher training and development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Underhill, A. (2005). Sound Foundations: Learning and Teaching Pronunciation. Oxford: Macmillan.

And here is a list of articles that are incredibly useful for DELTA which are available online:

  • Key Concepts in ELT series from the Oxford ELT Journal which are short articles describing concepts like schema, scaffolding, register etc. Can be found at
  • Principles of Instructed Language Learning by Rod Ellis at

YouTube videos

Tip # 2. Now that you know WHAT to read, here is HOW to read

As you are reading, take handwritten notes on the main points of the reading + write down the definitions you come across (more on this in Tip#3). Why handwritten? Firstly, thinking of how to lay out your notes and what to take note of will help you process the information and consequently, take more in than if you were just reading. Secondly, DELTA Module 1 is a written exam, meaning that you will have to write a large amount of stuff for 3 hours straight (with a short break between papers). I haven’t had to write this much since my university years and even then that was mostly at lectures as by then our papers had to be typed up on a computer. So, taking notes will help you develop/build up the muscles you will need to effortlessly write for several hours. If you are anything like me, you will be freaking out during the exam as it is and you don’t need cramps in your pen-wielding hand adding to your stress.

Also, as you are reading, get in the habit of analyzing methods/approaches/techniques etc. from the point of view of its advantages and disadvantages. This will help you answer the last task in Paper 2. For example, in June 2015 this task asked candidates to describe benefits and reasons for reducing TTT (teacher talking time). In my exam (December 2014), this question was about graded readers. Unfortunately, Cambridge publishes examiner reports based only on the June exams, so I never found out the answers to any of my exam tasks and I still find myself thinking about what I wrote about graded readers.

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Tip# 3. Index cards!!!

I am all for modern technology and I think Quizlet is a great learning tool (find a collection of Module 1 lists here). But! I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed creating index cards. What did I put on them? Primarily definitions (and further points and examples) to help me with Paper 1 Task 1 and 2, but also examples of assumptions, pros and cons of everything from deductive approach to speaking L1 in the classroom. Half of my notes came from answers to past papers and half from reading. I put the cards in a Ziploc bag which I carried in my handbag wherever I went. I had my colleagues quiz me in between classes. Every dinner out with my husband started with a brainstorming sessions on pros and cons of various ELT concepts (luckily, Michael is also an English teacher and he was extremely supportive when I was studying like a madwoman). I muttered definitions at bus stops and at lunch.

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Tip# 4. Make use of past papers and examiner reports. 

Cambridge publishes examiner reports (based on June exams) which include exam papers as well as sample answers with examiner comments. These are extremely useful for seeing what sort of answers examiners expect at every level of pass (Pass vs Pass with Distinction) as well as a source of useful phrases. If you are preparing with a center they will be using past papers for your assessed exam practice so consult them before using everything you find online.

June 2015 

June 2009 – 2014 

Tip# 5. Take time off studying 

This is important for your sanity as well as for your relationship. Even if you are lucky to have a significant other or a friend who doesn’t mind helping your study, or colleagues that don’t bat an eyelid as you barge into their office yelling BUT ISN’T DEIXIS ALWAYS RELATIVE???, they too will need a break. So, do what works for you. Get away from the computer screen and stare outside your window. Binge-watch something (Stranger Things! Do it, I`m telling you, it’s the best!). Meditate.Bake some cookies (and then give them to the friends/partners/colleagues you have been terrorizing).

In order for me to take the exam I had to travel to Istanbul. That meant a short flight from Kayseri, a city in Turkey where we are living. My amazingly supportive husband Michael decided to come with me, as that week was a non-teaching week for him and he could take time off work fairly easily. I think part of him wanted a short holiday and part of him wanted to keep an eye on me – he didn’t trust me not to walk into the oncoming Istanbul traffic while going over the definition cards. We stayed in a hotel close to ITI Istanbul, walked over there the day before the exam to make sure we knew where it was and how to get into the building. If it was my way, I would have stayed in the hotel room all day, going over all the materials over and over again, but Michael made me go out. I was allowed to go over things I already knew and he helped me revise the definitions and assumptions (which I knew by heart at that point and was doing it mostly to calm my nerves and, if I`m honest, to show off a little – there is a lot of Monica Geller in me when it comes to studying) during dinner. We did some sightseeing, climbing the Galata Tower and eating hot roasted chestnuts on the crowded Istiklal Street. It was the right thing to do – I definitely wasn’t capable of taking anything new in at that point and looking at exam papers has only served to make me more nervous.

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This is all from me. But I am leaving you in very capable hands. Here are two blogs that helped me immensely in my own preparation:

    • Sandy Millin. I read this blog religiously when I was preparing for Module 1. Sandy has amazing advice on each task and preparation in general, lots of useful links and other information. Her blog was what inspired me to start my own blog in the first place!
    • Lizzie Pinard’s blog was similarly HUGELY helpful in my preparation with a number of posts on various aspects of DELTA. Lizzy gives very specific advice on each paper and task in Module 1 as well as  advice sections for other modules

If you are thinking of taking DELTA – I hope this post was useful! Do you have questions or requests for more information? Leave a comment below or get in touch with me through the Contact page

If you already took DELTA Module 1 exam – can you add anything? What helped YOU survive and succeed in the DELTA?  Leave a comment below!


14 thoughts on “DELTA Module 1 Tips

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  5. Thank you and I shared your post with my friend who is planning to take DELTA course. I am thinking of CELTA. Do you have posts about it?


  6. Thank you for useful info and guidance. How important do you think to attend a course for Module 1? I am considering to study on my own.
    Thanks in advance.


  7. Hi, would you be interested in tutoring via Skype or zoom for an hour on how to take this exam. Just received my results and failed the exam, will rewrite in December. Kind regards, Sean


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  9. Thank you so much for such a useful post. I wanted to ask about the pre-course reading. The books you’ve mentioned are meant to be read (all of it) or specific chapters?


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