Is TEFL Hard to Pass?

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If you’re considering teaching English abroad and are looking into doing a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course, you are likely wondering is TEFL hard to pass? How hard is it to get a TEFL certificate? After all, if you are either starting out in a career or changing careers, you don’t want to waste your time and money on a venture which will get you nowhere, do you? So, is TEFL hard to pass?

Is TEFL hard to pass?

Unfortunately there is no easy answer for this, simply because we don’t know you. A TEFL course is an intensive course of study. The shortest TEFL course we recommend you do is 168 hours long and a lot of that time will be spent reading books, digesting information, and trying to understand theories of learning and methods of teaching. The rest of the time will be spent either planning lessons and developing content or teaching.

If you are not very academic (and not many of us are) or if it’s been a long time since you were last in a classroom, you might find the course challenging simply because you don’t enjoy reading or haven’t had to read academic texts for a while. The same goes for the assignments: if you haven’t written an essay in years or if writing is not your strong point, then you might find the assignments in the course overwhelming.

Can you fail a TEFL course ?

In a word, yes. Many people believe that you can’t fail a TEFL course because there are not many people who do. The argument is that TEFL institutions are run as businesses so they prefer their students to pass because they’ll then recommend the course to their friends. Of course this might be true of some of the dodgier TEFL courses, but for the most part it’s not.

TEFL teachers around the world are judged according to their TEFL certificate by potential employers. TEFL institutions will become known by the caliber of their teachers. In other words, if a TEFL course passes every Tom, Dick and Harry who does the course then there is a real possibility they’ll get a bad reputation based on a few bad apples. But if their teachers are consistently good, that TEFL course will become respected and known as a good preparation course.

Is TEFL Hard to Pass

Why would you fail the TEFL?

Generally speaking TEFL is not hard to pass. Face-to-face courses generally have interviews and strict admission requirements so if it is not likely to complete or pass the course, they will not be admitted in the first place. Online courses these days offer so much in the way of support that even if you are struggling with the course you will be mentored and assisted until you overcome your difficulties.

However, there are a few reasons a person might find TEFL hard to pass:

Personal Issues

Personal issues may mean a person does not complete the course. The TEFL course is a hectic course which you need to dedicate a lot of time and energy to. If there are personal issues preventing you from focusing 100% on your course, you will have problems completing it.

Time commitments

Time commitments can prevent a person from being able to dedicate enough time to the course. If you are working or studying while you are doing the TEFL course, you might find that there aren’t enough hours in your day to do what you need to do. Needless to say, if you don’t have time to put in the work, you won’t be able to finish or pass the course.

It is really important to ask yourself some hard questions before you dive into the TEFL course. We understand that people are always juggling other commitments in life. That said, the more time pressure you are under the more difficult it can become to cope. With a little bit of discipline and determination a TEFL course is well within your capability!



A person might not complete all the required assignments, or not to the satisfactory level.If you cannot complete all the required assignments, you cannot pass the course. At the same time, you might not pass the assignments, which might mean you cannot pass the course.

The question of assignments and submissions can be bound up with time management. You may find yourself being under serious pressure in order to submit a particular assignment. The good news is that there are many ways to stay on top of your deadlines and assignments. Setting reminders on your computer or smartphone calendar in advance of submission dates is a crucial tip for getting assignments done on time.

Read more: 5 Ways to Prepare for a TEFL Course

English level

Your level of English is an important factor when doing a TEFL course. Most TEFL courses take your English level into consideration. This means that you should be able to handle the level of difficulty of the course materials. However, if English is not your first language, you might find that your English level is not high enough for the course.

For non-native speakers we want to stress that TEFL teaching is not a closed shop and you can definitely do it! You are wanted by the TEFL world! Taking an English language test is the best way to check out your suitability for doing TEFL. Thankfully, there are a multitude of test options that can be found easily online. Once you are confident in your ability to take the course and go on to teach English as a foreign language, the world is really your oyster!


Some TEFL trainees realise that teaching is not suited to them.This happens in any course of study. When you start something it can seem like a great idea, but when you actually do it you realise that it’s not what you expected and it’s not something you enjoy doing.

This is probably the most unfortunate reason for finding TEFL hard to pass. This can happen to anyone . The best thing to do to not end up not passing TEFL is to do your research beforehand. Read up about the course content firstly. Are you sure you fully understand what each part entails?

Check out some of the video content on the The TEFL Academy Youtube channel to see what teaching English is actually like from people that have done it themselves. Check out some TEFL jobs on our site too. This will help you see what kind of positions are out there and that you could see yourself doing after you become TEFL certified. Once you have done this research around the course itself you will be able to make an informed decision around whether the course and the lifestyle is for you.

To go back to the question, is TEFL hard to pass? For the most part the answer is no, if you have the time to dedicate to the course and if there are no extenuating circumstances which can derail you. If you’re still not sure if TEFL is for you, join a few online forums and ask TEFL teachers what they think. There’s nobody better to ask than people who have done it themselves.



How do I apply for this? How do I get started?

Ilhaam Hoosain, 22nd April 2022

Hi, Can you please assist on how to start the tefl course..Thank you

Leanne, 31st August 2020

Is there a grading above Distinction? or is that the highest?

Omaris Olmo, 22nd July 2020

After working extremely hard on my first assignment and receiving very positive feedback, I was rather disappointed with my merit result (66). I’m curious to know roughly how many students manage to score a distinction on the first assignment as I’d like to know how my progress compares to that of the average student. At the moment I’m feeling quite demotivated.

Sandro Russo, 18th June 2020

Please email me more information about the Tefl course thznk u so much

Doreen Loots, 8th June 2020

Good day

I’m considering doing the level 5 180h course but obviously haven’t studied in 12 years. English is also my second language although I’ve been teaching/lecturing in English for the past 10 years. Will I be able to cope with the content of the course?

Elena, 5th May 2020

Good evening I would be very interested in doing an online course with TEFL Academy
and would appreciate an application form (2) for Mr Marcello Acquisto and myself,
Beverly Acquisto.
Yours sincerely
Beverly Guiney Acquisto

Beverly Acquisto, 30th April 2020

Hi I want to study tefl but I afraid that it might not render and benefit to me as I do not have A degree. What do you think?

Wizzy, 20th February 2020

Could you forward me some more information. I have always liked learning new things and love reading.

Margaret kidwell, 20th February 2020

How many assignments are needed in the level 5 course please? And do we have to right exams or have an assessment?

Marius van Jaarsveld, 19th February 2020

I was working full time on a cruise ship while doing my course. I finished the course in 4 months and then I did my 2 classroom days when I finished working on the cruise ship.
Prior to this I hadn’t written an essay or read a book in over 5 years. I’d say it can definitely be done with a full time job.
Now I am a full time English teacher in Genova Italy.

Alice, 18th February 2020

Can you please send me more information about the course, the prices etc

Kesia, 17th February 2020

Good day I am looking to be a tefl English teacher kindly assist regarding acquiring a tefl certificate.thank you.

Terence M, 16th January 2020

Good day I’m keen to be a tefl English teacher however I need assistance regarding acquiring a tefl certificate.

Emeleo, 14th November 2019

Can you help me out with some information on enrolling in the course and it’s requirements

Emmet doyle, 13th November 2019

Hi, how may hours a day would be needed for studying the level 5, 200 hour course ?

Kirsten, 8th November 2019

Good day

I have great interest in enrolling for TEFL course early next year 2020. I would like to know if there are usually teaching opportunities in Halifax Canada?

Mamosa Moloi, 6th November 2019

Good day,
I trust that you are well.

I am not sure whether I will be able to cope with the TEFL course as I am a full-time employee. Any input from TEFL qualified teachers who had a full time position and a family who got through and passed the course would be highly appreciated.

Kind regards,

Nabeweya Mitchell, 30th October 2019

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