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What is the SPEAK Test?

The SPEAK test is a recorded oral examination that lasts approximately 20 minutes. Total testing time from check-in to completion is about 30 minutes.

What test procedures should I be aware of?

Before the test begins, examinees are given time to review test directions. The test is recorded and timed on a computer in a computer lab. Examinees listen to the test through headphones and speak into a microphone on their headset to record their responses. Once the test is started, it cannot be stopped.

What is the SPEAK test experience like?

When you take the SPEAK test you will be in a language-lab environment. When you practice the test keep in mind this environment which is different from speaking to a person.

How do I register for the SPEAK test?

You can register in person in the Office of International Programs (5010 Wescoe), by email to or by calling the Office of International Programs at (913) 588-1480.

How much does the SPEAK Test cost?

The test is provided free of charge.

What score is required?

The Kansas Board of Regents requires that in order to be appointed as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) students must first attain a minimum score of 50 on the TSE or SPEAK tests.

What if I have already taken the SPEAK Test at another institution and I received a score of 50+?

SPEAK scores from other institutions and SPEAK component scores of the TOEFL iBT will not be accepted.

What if I took the TSE at another institution and I received a score of 50+?

Contact ETS to send us an official copy of the score.

If I take SPEAK and do not get the score I would like, how soon can I take it again?

Please contact the ESL Coordinator in the Office of International Programs for more information.

What kinds of questions appear on SPEAK?

There are several different forms of the SPEAK, but all have similar types of questions:

  • A warm-up with general questions; the tape announces that this section will not be scored. It is important, however, that the test-taker reply to the questions to make sure that everything is working properly.
  • A map-reading section, where the test-taker describes how to get from one place to another.
  • General questions about a hypothetical town, based on the map.
  • A story-telling section where the test-taker looks at a series of pictures and tells the story from the pictures.
  • Follow-up questions based on the story.
  • General opinion questions, often related to the test-taker's field of study.
  • A chart or graph-reading section, where the test-taker explains the information given on a chart or graph.
  • Follow-up questions based on the chart or graph.
  • A schedule with modifications where the test-taker explains the schedule and the changes.

If I do not finish an answer or have extra time left and have nothing more to say, will I receive a low score on the SPEAK test?
Not necessarily. If you address the question well and run out of time, this will not affect your score. If you have extra time but have answered completely, again, this will not affect your score.

Suggestions for SPEAK test-takers:

During the test

  • Relax!
  • Focus on being as natural-sounding as possible. Remember, speak slowly as it is easier to understand you.

Before the test

Talk to people as much as possible. Getting plenty of informal speaking practice will help you feel more relaxed and sound more natural.

  • Practice giving directions from a map, telling stories from pictures, and describing a chart or graph.
  • Practice with a timer so that you have a feeling for how long 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 90 seconds are.
  • Pay attention to the time allotted for each question.
  • Listen to native speakers and think about what they are doing.

After the test

  • Relax and congratulate yourself on getting through the SPEAK.
  • Your score will be e-mailed or sent to you within a week of the test. It will also be sent to your department.

Can I practice for the test?

Not only can you practice but you should practice. Even if you feel your oral skills are good, you should practice. This type of test has a particular format which may be unfamiliar. Practicing will help you feel more comfortable on the day of the test. You can practice by coming to the ESL computer lab in room 4003 Student Center and using our materials.

Who rates SPEAK tests and how are they rated?

The SPEAK test is rated by qualified and trained language specialists. The test is rated not only for pronunciation, but also for how well you address the question. The scoring guide used to evaluate the SPEAK test is the same as the scoring guide that was used to evaluate the TSE. You can request a copy from the Office of International Programs.

Last modified: Aug 25, 2018