A test designed to measure the comprehensibility, fluency, grammar, and pronunciation skills of non-native speaker’s oral English, required for international students to become Teaching Assistants (TAs) or Associate Instructors (AIs).
The Office of Graduate Studies requires that all international graduate students for whom English is not their native language to have their oral language evaluated before they begin duties as TAs or AIs. Department chairs can request a waiver on your behalf from the Office of Graduate Studies with a short written note/email that identifies you as applicant and your justification.
The 30-minute computer-based test is given several times a year (see SPEAK Test Schedule). Make a test appointment in-person at the CETL office, located at 1350 Surge III. On test day, you will need to verify your identity with proper photo ID.
Answers to many common questions can be found in the FAQs. For other questions, or to change an test appointment date, please contact Barbara Mills (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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- What are typical justifications for applying for a waiver?
If you are an international student from an English-speaking country or have been educated extensively in English-speaking schools, these make you a good candidate for a waiver. Contact your department chair who can submit a short, written application for the waiver on your behalf.
- How do I prepare for taking the SPEAK Test?
Before your test date, review the SPEAK Practice Test booklet and audio cassette you received when you made your appointment at the CETL office. NOTE: Return the SPEAK Practice Test booklet to the exam proctor on the day of your test.
- Where are tests given?
Locations vary. When you register for your appointment at the CETL office they will provide you information about the location.
- What should I bring to the test?
Your identity will be verified before you are allowed to take the test. Please bring a current photo ID such as:
- UC Davis student ID card
- California driver’s license
All other materials will be provided to you. You will not be allowed to bring any sort of backpack, handbag, briefcase, laptop, etc. in to the exam room.
- How are the tests scored?
Student responses are recorded and later scored independently by trained SPEAK Test evaluators. The scores are averaged to become your official SPEAK Test score. There is no pass or fail; it is a scale of low to high fluency.
- How are the test scores used in determination of my hiring?
The score is for informational purposes only. The test is used as an indicator of your command of the English language and whether UCD students may have difficulty understanding you. It is not a reflection of your ability to perform as a TA. Individual departments can set their own standards and tend to use the test as only one of several criteria they consider when hiring TA’s.
- Can the test be retaken?
Yes. You are allowed to take the test twice in an academic year.
- How can I improve my command of English and my test score?
Your SPEAK Practice booklet is a great way to prepare for the test. Arriving early on test day will give you a final chance to review and alleviate some stress. Also, UC Davis has a number of programs to help you improve your proficiency.
- How do I get my test score?
You will be told when you can pick up your test score from the CETL office. A copy is sent to your department chair approximately five to six days after your test date. It is extremely important to schedule your test appointment as early as possible in a quarter, especially if you are to TA during the quarter.