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Check Scores:  [ Graduate Departments ]   [ Students ]                               

1. Who must take the SPEAK test?

All international graduate students for whom English is a second language who are either appointed as Teaching Assistants or who are required to teach undergraduates as part of their graduate programs, regardless of citizenship or degrees earned in the U.S.

2. What is the purpose of the SPEAK test?

The purpose of the ITA Oral English Proficiency Screening is to determine whether international teaching assistants can speak English well enough and clearly enough to be understood by the undergraduates whom they teach.

3. Can a student’s TOEFL iBT or IELTS score exempt him or her from the SPEAK?

Yes. If a student scores a 26 or higher on the Speaking Section of the TOEFL iBT, or 7.0 or higher on the Speaking Section of the IELTS, then the SPEAK is not required.

4. How can students sign up for the SPEAK test?

They cannot register themselves. The academic department Graduate Services Coordinator or Director of Graduate Programs must sign students up at this website: The student’s name and UNITY ID are required for sign up.

*A student may only take the SPEAK test twice and those dates must be at least 5 months apart. Scores are valid for one year.

5. How can students find out when they are scheduled to take the SPEAK test?

Students will receive an automated email notifying them of an assigned test date and time. Any changes to the date and time will also be emailed to the student. Students may also ask the graduate secretary or Director of Graduate Programs in their department, or they may contact the administrator of the SPEAK test at:

6. When and where will the test be given?

The next SPEAK tests will be given

                Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, 10:00 A.M.

                Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, 10:00 A.M.

                Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, 1:30 P.M.

in the FLL Language and Computer Lab (the Laundry Lab) located at 2341 Stinson Dr.

7. What is the test like?

The test, the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit, is an institutional version of the Test of Spoken English (TSE). Students listen to recorded questions through headphones, and they speak their answers into a microphone attached to their headset. The responses are recorded via their computer. Approximately 20 students take the test at each scheduled time, and the test runs about 30 minutes.

8. How can students prepare for the SPEAK test?

SPEAK practice tests are available in the Foreign Language Technology Lab, 212 Laundry Bldg.

or you can go to the following website to access a sample test


9. How can students, Graduate Services Coordinators, and Directors of Graduate Programs check a SPEAK Test score?

They can go to the following website a day or two after the test was taken:

10. What is a passing score on the SPEAK test?

A student must score at least a 48 to be cleared for full teaching responsibilities. A student who scores lower than a 48 may have limited teaching responsibilities, with a senior TA or a professor who has primary responsibility. A student who scores less than 48 should be limited to TA responsibilities that don’t involve explaining things to undergraduates, such as grading or setting up labs.

11.  If a student scores LESS THAN a 48 on the SPEAK test, what should the student do?

A student may sign up for an English course such as FLE 401 or FLE 400 to improve his or her spoken English.  FLE 401 is a restricted course, so in order to register, students should contact Carolyn Quarterman at

What courses are recommended?

If a student scores:

  • a 35 or 40.  On average it takes at least 2 semesters of English instruction to reach a 48.  It is recommended that students enroll in FLE 400 the first semester, and then FLE 401 the following semester. The student will be re-evaluated at the end of the second semester (when taking FLE 401).
  • a 45.  It is recommended that students enroll in FLE 401.  The student will be re-evaluated at the end of the semester.                                                                                                                                                         

*Students should consult with their advisers to see what courses they recommend and to find out about departmental and university policies.   


12. What should a student do after taking FLE 401?

Students who were recommended to take FLE 401 will be reevaluated after completion of the course in order to be assigned full TA responsibilities. 

13. What does a student need to do to be reevaluated after taking FLE 401?

Students who take FLE 401 will be reevaluated upon completion of the course in two ways: 1.) retaking the SPEAK at the end of the semester, and 2.) giving an oral presentation which is recorded.  This presentation is viewed by three raters- two ESL raters and one rater from the student’s department.  The ESL raters will rate the presentation for English proficiency, and the rater from the student’s graduate department will evaluate the content. Using the evaluations from both the ESL raters and Departmental rater, the Director of Graduate Programs will decide if further coursework should be completed, or if the student may be cleared for teaching responsibilities. 

14. What if the student doesn’t pass the reevaluation?

Some students may not be cleared for teaching responsibilities after they have completed their FLE coursework requirements. These students should seek extra practice in speaking English. Once they have completed additional self-directed practice, they may be asked to re-take the SPEAK test to determine their progress.

The following resources may be helpful to students who seek additional practice in speaking English:

  • Free English pronunciation and conversation classes are offered by the ESL Program.    These classes can be started anytime during the semester.  Check the ESL program website for time and location,
  • ESL software such as Tell Me More at the Language and Technology Lab
  • ESL courses offered in the community (Forest Hills Baptist Church on Dixie Trail has classes on Wed. evenings and Wake Tech has two sites near campus.)

15. What are the responsibilities of Graduate Secretaries/Directors of Graduate Programs for the SPEAK test? 

The graduate secretary or DGP is responsible for: 

  • Determining which students from their departments need to take the SPEAK
  • Registering their students for the SPEAK
  • Checking students’ scores and advising them accordingly
  • Selecting a departmental representative to assist in the reevaluation of students upon completion of FLE 401
  • Making the final decision regarding the level of TA responsibilities given to reevaluated student

16. Additional Questions? 

Please contact the SPEAK Test Administrator at: