Kelly Center Testing Services
Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) Test Information

If you are a non-native English speaker and are applying to be a faculty member or graduate teaching assistant at FHSU, you must pass the Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit (SPEAK) test.  This is a requirement mandated by the Kansas Board of Regents

Scheduling an Appointment

Testing Services administers the SPEAK test by appointment. To schedule an appointment or get additional information on test requirements, fees and policies, please contact our office.  For optimum availability, we recommend that you contact us two weeks prior to a desired test date. Please note that SPEAK testing at FHSU is available only to FHSU graduate teaching assistant applicants and faculty applicants.

Overview of the Test

The purpose of the SPEAK test is to evaluate your English speaking ability if your native language is not English.

At the beginning of the test, the test administrator will provide you with a test book. The test consists of 12 items, each of which requires you to perform a particular speech act, also called a language function. An interviewer on a test tape leads you through the test, you respond verbally to each of the 12 questions and your responses are recorded on a separate answer tape. The time allotted for each response ranges from 30 to 90 seconds.

The questions on the test are of a general nature and are designed to inform the raters about your oral communicative ability. All of the questions asked by the interviewer, as well as the response times, are printed in the test book. All responses for the test are spoken; you do not write at any time during the test. The SPEAK test takes approximately 20 minutes.

What to Bring to the Test Appointment

You must bring government-issued photo identification to your test appointment (driver's license, passport) and payment for the SPEAK test. Pencils, papers, reference materials and books of any kind are not permitted in the test room.

Score Information

Trained raters evaluate each of your responses and assign score levels using descriptors of communicative effectiveness related to functions, coherence, use of cohesive devices, appropriateness of response to audience and situation and linguistic accuracy. The assigned score levels for all responses are averaged to arrive at the final score, which is reported on a scale from 20 to 60 in increments of five. Score level performance is described below.

  • 60 - Communication almost always effective.
  • 55
  • 50 - Communication generally effective. This is the FHSU passing score.
  • 45
  • 40 - Communication somewhat effective.
  • 35
  • 30 - Communication generally not effective.
  • 25
  • 20 - No effective communication.

Passing Score

Each institution that uses SPEAK scores determines for itself what scores are acceptable.  The passing score at Fort Hays State University is a score of 50.  If you have questions regarding this score requirement, please contact the FHSU Graduate School at 785-628-4236.

Official Score Reports

You can expect to receive your official score report approximately 7-10 business days from the date of the test. You must submit written permission to the Testing Services office to have an official score report forwarded to the FHSU Graduate School.

Retaking the SPEAK Test

There are specific institutional policies on retaking the SPEAK test. There is no time restriction between the first and second attempt. However, at least three months must lapse between the second and third attempt. There is no time restriction between the third and fourth attempt. However, at least three months must lapse between the fourth and fifth attempt. There is no time restriction between the fifth and sixth attempt.

Practicing for the Test

A practice SPEAK test which is similar to the actual SPEAK test is available to help you become familiar with the types of questions that might be asked during the actual test. To help overcome nervousness before the day of the test, you may want to practice recording your responses to the practice test questions. You can then listen to your voice and content and/or have a friend listen and give you feedback on the responses to the questions. The questions on the SPEAK practice test are similar to but not identical to the questions on the actual test.

The SPEAK Practice Test is available for loan to you for a period of one week. You must submit a $20 cash deposit for the practice materials. The deposit fee is returned to you when you return the SPEAK practice materials. You are financially responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged practice materials.

Additionally, you can get help with test-taking skills by contacting Kelly Center Academic Success Programs.

The SPEAK is a product of the Test of English as a Foreign Language program, which is sponsored by Educational Testing Service.

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