DELTA Diary: Exam Module 1 – Done and dusted

After about six months studying and preparing for the DELTA module one exam, it’s finally over. I can breathe again, until module 2 starts in January anyway. In this DELTA diary I’m going to talk about the exam, the preparation that definitely helped, and whether it was worth the pain.

It’s all about Time Management. Photo by Alan Cleaver

How was the DELTA module 1 exam?

Not too bad considering some of the past papers I’ve seen. In Paper 1 there were no real surprises to Tasks 1, 2, and 3 and the preparation we were suggested to do (see below) definitely helped. Task 5 was okay, although it was tricky to analyse and find 3 strengths and weaknesses from the written piece.
Task 4, the nightmare part, was reasonably generous. It was a human interest story (which wasn’t interesting to normal humans) and we had to cover form, use, and pronunciation of used to/would, form, use and problems with connected speech features of a mixed conditional sentence, and finally form and use of some random prepositions and adverbs. As expected, timing was a sore point. I took between 40-45 minutes. Others took up to 50. A colleague of mine made a good point that there were over 30 individual tasks to do, which gave us about a minute a task if we stuck to the allocated time; freaking harsh if you think about it.
Paper 2 was decent too. Tasks 2 and 3 were the same as most past papers. We had to give purposes and assumptions for uses of both, neither, and either, pretty DELTA standard. Task 1 was a pain because instead of an individual leaner we had to analyse the test for a group of mixed level international students. I managed to write down six points, but whether they were all relevant I don’t know (or care any more, it’s over!)

The topic for Task 4 was probably the only one on our course’s suggested topic list that I hadn’t prepared for; the pros and cons of Teacher Talk Time in the class. Luckily I managed to get down a range of answers though and made about 30 points. Again, whether they are all on the DELTA markers ‘subjective’ marking list, I’ll have to wait and see…results not out until mid February.
My terminology cards –
150 of the buggers, front and back

What preparation helped?

The course was great. Our tutors provided us with an extensive range of tasks to get us familiar with the test papers and boost our confidence. The mix of group and individual tasks were useful and the feedback was constructive, cheers Claire and Mike at IH Seville.
I think the best advice was to do terminology cards. Not only is this great for tasks 1 and 2 in paper 1 (which I did in about 10 minutes instead of the suggested 20; it’s all about time management), but it’s also an amazing way to develop a strong base of terminology for the whole exam.
I had about 300 different definitions in the end for the following categories: grammar, phonology, connected speech, methodology, learner styles and motivations, lexis, discourse, and testing. I wrote out my own cards with a definition, example, and further point, and each day, while on the metro to work, I memorised them. I did this for about three months. The looks I got from the local Sevillanos suggested they thought I was some sort of nutter, but they think it’s weird to ‘read a book’ on the metro.
For Task 4 on Paper 2 I had a list of between 10 and 20 points on the pros and cons of various topics and methodologies. For example, PPP, Task-Based approach, Communicative approach, Deductive or Inductive approach, Content-Based (CLIL), and topics such as using L1 or phonetics in class (there were more but I won’t bore you). I guess this preparation wasn’t as useful because I hadn’t prepared for the topic that came up, Teacher Talk Time. I was pretty gutted when I saw the question, but with all the reading I’d done, and just common knowledge from the classroom, I was able to apply theories from a range of methodologies for the answer.   
The most useful prepara
tion was the mock exams and doing past papers.
In the last two weeks I tried to do a paper a day. Then I read the DELTA examiners’ report and tried to work out exactly what they wanted from the key and best and worst answers to get a rough idea of what they expected. This was the perfect way to consolidate everything we’d done and get ready for the main event.  
Was it worth the pain?
I guess I’ll know when I get my result in February. My classes are definitely better, especially with regards to teaching writing, speaking and pronunciation. If you read my last DELTA Diary, then you’ll know that I read way over the suggested list. I read about 14 EFL books in total. Thinking about it now, I probably could have read less, but it wasn’t until the last couple that I started questioning how much I was reading.
From what I’ve heard, it’s in Module 2 where everything starts to come together. My course starts on the 10th of January 2013. I’m looking forward to working with the other teachers, hopefully it will be more interactive and fun. 

If you’re thinking of doing the DELTA, have just done the exam, or would like to share any advice, then just drop a comment below. Later in the week I’ll be publishing a blog titled: Top Tips for doing the DELTA module 1.

37 thoughts on “DELTA Diary: Exam Module 1 – Done and dusted

  1. Nice to read your 'after exam reflection'. I've started my initial work (list of books, collecting past papers etc.)on module-1. How do I start my reading..I'm confused…whether to start with grammar or methodologies..or what I really don't know.Planning for June 2013.
    Please share more…..

  2. Hiya,

    Sorry for the late reply; was trying to forget about DELTA for a week or so. I started by reading a mix of books, About Language is a great starting point and any from How to Series. Re methodologies I'd go for How Languages are Learned and Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. I'd also recommend getting cracking on your terminology cards. Good luck. I'm studying again now for module 2…joy.


  3. Hi Barry, i came across this blog and just wanted to say hi. I've just started M2 in Athens, Greece (i did M1 and M3 by distance learning). I've heard that it's a complete nightmare!! Have you been recommended any 'must buy' books? i'm a bit worried by your comment above that you're already studying. Maybe i've missed sth but i have not been told that i need to study sth!!!! So any advice on how to get started? Are you thinking about the diagnostic lesson yet? My toddler is taking up alll of my time and I'm not really as motivated to study as I was for Ms 1and3. When do you expect to finish M2? HOpefully i'll have finished by June. Fingers crossed!

  4. Hi Evangelia,

    Thanks for writing, sorry if I've freaked you out! When I said studying I was just looking through some general books about how to teach. I didn't get much done to be honest. At the moment I'm doing research about learner styles so I can plan my first LSA1, my diagnostic is next Tuesday, modals of speculation, although I just want to do a normal class to get feedback. Yeah it is a bit of a nightmare, especially with student exams and revision coming up, but hopefully in March things will chill out a bit.

    I expect to finish this May, then onto M3.

    How are you getting on?



  5. Hi Barry,
    You seem to have everything under control! I'm finding it difficult to juggle the Delta with work and family commitments but i'm going to try! Seems like we may have done the diagnostic on the same day-i did mine on Tue Jan 29. Getting feedback tom so that should be interesting! I've done Ms1+3 so now I need to focus on my teaching!!! All the best!

  6. Very useful blog. I was wondering about your Module 1 result. I am sure you must have received a distinction.

  7. Thanks Mr or Mrs Anonymous…

    Glad it was of some help. Yeah, luckily I managed a distinction…all that hard work paid off…probably forgotten most of it already though. Are you doing the DELTA now?



  8. hi Barrry , thanks for creating this page! am doing M1 in December and have a question… where did you source past exams and reports – I can only find some going back to june 2010 did you find more? good luck with the ongoing!

  9. Hey Jon,

    Thanks for writing. Our course tutors provided us with a load of past papers. If you want I can send some to you on email…give me your address.



  10. Hi Barry,

    I hope all is well. Your blog is extremely useful for anyone intending to study for the Module 1 exam. I really appreciate it. I have bought a bunch of books to prepare for the exam. At the moment, I am trying to collect past papers. However, as John has noted above, only 3 past papers are available online (June 2010, June 2011, and June 2012). I was wondering if you could e-mail me the past papers you have at your disposal. I will be eternally grateful. My address is . Thank you in advance.


  11. Hey David,

    Thanks for writing and your comment about how useful my blog is. Great to get some feedback. I'm going to send you the papers now.



  12. gosh yes please – sorry to take ten days to reply ! ten days seems like forever now and I have spent a fair bit of that on delta 1. ………… getting a bit anxious now.
    Barry I would really appreciate it if you could send me some, I hope you are fine and progressing happily. here is my email
    as with David below I would be eternally grateful

  13. Hey Barry..excellent blog! I have only just started self-studying for the module one exam -but work part-time so I hope time won't be an issue- but I feel I am really missing something not having past papers other than the June 2010 one… If you could forward any past papers and exam reports I would be really grateful! my e-mail is a million thanks!

  14. Hi Barry,

    good job on the distinction! I am going to try and self-study for module 1 in June – currently only working 25 hours a week until September so I have the time and want to take advantage of it while it lasts. But I've missed the deadlines for the preparatory courses. Do you have any tips for someone doing this – apart from that its a bit mad! How many hours a week did you put in? Would also appreciate the past papers if you have a chance, Thanks a lot, and thanks for the blog as well, some good resources on here. Siobhan

  15. Hey Siobhan,

    Thanks for writing. Biggest tips are to do the terminology cards and stick to them every day. I found that helped in all areas as the terminology was always fresh in my mind. Try to select your reading too. I read too much, but I guess it helped in the end. Good luck. Just sent you the papers.

  16. Hi Barry,

    Thank you for your informative blog. I wish you the best and congratulations for your "distinction" grade in M1 exam. Would you please send me past exam papers for Delta module 1 as I am preparing for the Dec. 2014 Exam. My e-mail address is Thanks a million.



  17. Hi Barry,

    your tips are really helpful! I'm doing the terminology cards right now. I wonder if you have some past papers different from the ones we can find online. I would really appreciate if you send them to me.
    Thanks in advance.


  18. Hi Barry,

    your tips are really helpful! I'm doing the terminology cards right now. I wonder if you have some past papers different from the ones we can find online. I would really appreciate if you send them to me.
    Thanks in advance.


  19. Hello Barry,
    Thank you for all the useful information that you have been posting.
    Could I ask you to send me as well past papers for Delta module 1. It would really be helpful. My email address:
    Thank you

  20. Hello Barry,

    Found you blog and feel so relieved someone was able to self study for M1 and M3. Thank you for writing this blog and help us out. Could you be so kind and also send me the past papers?

  21. Hello, Barry.

    Your blog is absolutely great! Thank you for taking time to write about your experience, all your posts have been very motivating for me and now I am determined to start DELTA M1 in January.


  22. Hello Barry,

    Thank you for creating this blog. It is awesome. Thanks for all the useful information that you have been posting. Thanks to you I've decided to start DELTA M1 soon.

    Could you please so kind send me

    I would appreciate if you send me the past sample papers. I can't find them online.

    my email address is:

    Thank you so much,


  23. Hi Barry,
    I’m currently preparing for Module One as well. Struggling a bit with language analysis, especially the part on anticipated problems. Sometimes I get stuck and can’t figure out what the problems are. This makes me frustrated. Is this normal?
    I was wondering if you could help me with a task!

    1. Hey Sarah,

      Thanks for writing. Being frustrated in a Delta is always normal, especially in Module one, so don’t worry. I used to try to apply it to real life. Try to imagine your students and how they would react to the problems, and then you can work out which types they are. For example, there are normally pronunciation issues, and nearly always they won’t understand the grammar. Just imagine the weakest student in the world, who is a low level in whichever level it is supposed to be, and then work out their problems.

      Hope that helps


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