The SPEAK test (Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit) is required for some students.

On this page:

Keith Otto.

“The ELI is an important resource for the university. UB’s large community of internationals benefits from our programs and services.”

— Keith Otto, SPEAK test coordinator

Who must take the SPEAK test?

  • Graduate School policy requires the SPEAK test for all international graduate students receiving graduate, research, or teaching assistantships, regardless of whether or not the student is expected to teach a class immediately.
  • Individual departments and programs may also require the SPEAK test for specific purposes.

When is it offered?

The SPEAK test is normally offered four times per year, at the beginning and end of each semester.  

What do the results mean?

  • 55 and 60 = the graduate student is automatically approved to teach anything the department requires. No further evaluation of language proficiency is required.
  • 50 or less = further evaluation by means of a teaching demonstration is required before a student is permitted to teach, hold office hours, or perform other duties requiring speaking with students. The teaching duties allowed will be based on the results of the teaching demonstration. Departments are expected to vouch for the graduate student's communication abilities before requesting this evaluation. Communication for International Teaching Assistants (ESL 512) is recommended. Tuition scholarships can be used to offset the cost of this course as per the Provost's policy.
  • 40 or below = the student should ask about taking Spoken English (ESL 411) before retaking the SPEAK test.

How can students better understand their scores?

Students can contact Keith Otto, SPEAK test coordinator, to receive general feedback from their tests and recommendations for how to improve.

How and when can students register?

See the SPEAK test schedule for details.

What does the SPEAK test cost?

$80 is the current cost.

Is there a practice test?