What is the SPEAK Test?
The Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) Test is produced and distributed by the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) program. The test is designed to measure the comprehensibility, fluency, grammar, and pronunciation skills of a non-native speaker’s oral English.
Who is required to take the SPEAK Test?
The Office of Graduate Studies requires that all international graduate students for whom English is not their native language take the SPEAK test of oral English proficiency before they begin duties as Teaching Assistants or Associate-Instructors.
Waivers from the exam may be granted to international students from English-speaking countries (routinely) or to those who have strong English-speaking backgrounds (e.g., foreign students from non English-speaking countries who have been educated extensively in English-speaking schools). To apply for a waiver, your department chair should submit a short written request to Graduate Admissions in the Office of Graduate Studies – not the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) - requesting a SPEAK test waiver, identifying the student and explaining the justification for the waiver.
When is the test given?
The SPEAK Test is given several times each year. Please refer to the SPEAK Test Schedule for the current academic year’s dates.
How do I register for the test?
In order to take the exam, you must first schedule a test date, in-person, at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in 1350 SURGE III.
How do I prepare for taking the SPEAK Test?
Prior to coming to take the test, review the SPEAK Practice Test booklet and audio cassette, which you will receive when you schedule your test date. Please do not mark or write in the booklet. Return the practice test booklet to the exam instructor at the time of your test.
Where is the test given? What should I bring?
When you register, you will be told where the test will be given. When you come to take the test, please bring with you any one of the following pieces of current photo identification: a) passport, b) UC Davis student ID card, or c) California driver’s license.
All materials needed to take the SPEAK Test will be provided for you. Please do NOT bring any other items with you into the classroom. Any items (such as backpacks, handbags, briefcases, etc.) brought to the exam must be left outside the classroom.
How is the test administered?
The test is administered through a computer program. Student responses are recorded and later scored independently by trained SPEAK Test evaluators. The scores given by the evaluators are averaged, and those averages become your official SPEAK Test score.
How much time does the test require?
The test only takes about 30 minutes of your time.
Where and when are the test results made available?
You will be told when you can pick up your results at the CETL. A copy is sent to your department chair approximately five to six days after you have taken the exam. Therefore, if you plan to take the exam during the same quarter that you are scheduled to begin TAing, it is very important that you schedule your examination as early in the quarter as possible.
What do I have to do to pass the test?
First, there are no passing or failing scores. The exam is for informational purposes only. High (or low) SPEAK Test scores do not guarantee that you will be successful (or unsuccessful) as a TA. The exam does indicate how fluent one is with the English language and whether UCD students may have difficulty understanding you. This is not a reflection on you or your expertise within your discipline. Second, the individual departments are free to set their own SPEAK Test standards. Most departments use the SPEAK scores as just one of the several criteria they consider in hiring TAs.
Can the test be taken repeatedly until a higher score is attained?
Because there is seldom a significant increase in test scores if the exam is repeated within 3 months, and because the University wishes to ensure that test score improvement reflects real improvement in oral English skills and not simply “learning the test,” the exam may generally be taken only once every six months or twice within the academic year.
How can I improve my test performance?
Tests are generally stressful situations. However, the SPEAK Test is easy to take, requires only a few minutes of your time, and doesn’t require that you study a large volume of material. To alleviate some of your test anxiety you should show up for your exam about ten minutes early. This will allow you to become more comfortable with the test environment and give you a chance to look over your Practice Test booklet once more before taking the exam.
How can I improve my English language skills?
The University and Davis community offer a number of programs for improving English language proficiency.
Where can I get more information?
Any questions regarding the administration of the SPEAK Test, or a request for a change in your examination date, should be directed to Barbara Mills at: firstname.lastname@example.org, the CETL at email@example.com or 752-6050, or stop by our office in room 1350 SURGE III.