What does the SPEAK test assess?

The SPEAK test is a measure of general language ability. It focuses on the following:

  • pronunciation
  • fluency
  • oral grammar
  • vocabulary usage
  • register or appropriateness of answer
  • organization and presentation of ideas
It does not assess teaching ability but rather general communication skills that would be used in the classroom. Other factors that can affect the performance on the test are general test taking skills and nerves. How are scores figured? Each test is scored independently by two raters. The raters must give whole number scores for each question (20, 30, 40, 50 or 60). The scores are then averaged to get an overall score for each rater (ex: 41.833). The scores from the two raters are then averaged (ex. 41.833 and 44.666 = 43.2495). The averaged score is then rounded up or down (Ex: 42.49 rounds down to 40 and 42.50 rounds up to 45). Therefore a 45 is a score that could range from 42.5 to 47.49. That is why people sometimes feel that they have made progress in their speaking but the test scores do not show it. They could very well have started with a 45 (42.5) and ended with a 45 (47.49). For more information about the SPEAK Test, go to www.ksu.edu/elp/testing/speak.htm What does the speaking component of the iBT assess? The Speaking section of the iBT includes the following components:
  • 2 independent tasks about familiar topics (based on personal experience)
  • 4 integrated tasks (based on short listening and reading selections)
The spoken responses are evaluated in the following areas:
  • general description
  • delivery
  • language
  • topic development

How do the scores on the SPEAK and iBT compare?

Standards and comparisons on the SPEAK scores and iBT speaking scores are not statistically determined but rather set by a panel of International Teaching Assistant (ITA) experts. They have set the following standards:

  • 22 iBT - lowest level for contact with undergraduates
  • 22 iBT is equivalent to 50 SPEAK
For more information about the iBT, please go to http://www.toefl.org/