Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit

Macintosh Computer Lab of the ILRC Macintosh Computer Lab of the ILRC
Windows Computer Lab in the ILRC Windows Computer Lab in the ILRC
 The ILRC Lounge Area  The ILRC Lounge Area
 Students at work in the ILRC  Students at work in the ILRC
 Irvin Hall in the Fall  Irvin Hall in the Fall
 Arabic Students in the Windows Lab  Arabic Students in the Windows Lab
 Arabic Students in the Windows Lab  Arabic Students in the Windows Lab
 Dr. Domínguez-Búrdalo with Spanish Students  Dr. Domínguez-Búrdalo with Spanish Students
  Dr. Domínguez-Búrdalo with Spanish Students   Dr. Domínguez-Búrdalo with Spanish Students

The SPEAK test (Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit) is the institutional version of the TSE (Test of Spoken English) produced by Educational Testing Service. The SPEAK Test is given to evaluate the oral proficiency of incoming graduate students for whom English is not their native or primary language. In order for a graduate student to be assigned as a teaching assistant, administrative assistant, or laboratory assistant, the student must achieve a minimum passing score on the SPEAK test.

When will the next SPEAK Test be given?

The SPEAK test dates for the 2019-2020 Academic year will be will be held:

Monday, 22 July 2019 through Thursday, 8 August 2019
These days are for new incoming graduate students who will be teaching courses at Miami and need to have their language proficiency verified. If you are a returning graduate student already enrolled in a department and need to retake the SPEAK test from a previous semester, simply enroll into the Canvas site and take the current version of the test available.

Thursday, 9 January 2020 through Wednesday 15 January 2020

These days are for students who failed or were given a conditional pass on previous tests and for new students who will be teaching for Spring Semester. 

Where will the SPEAK Test be given?

We are administering the SPEAK Test via Canvas. Students will self-enroll into the SPEAK Test Canvas site, be able to take a practice test immediately, and then during the open testing period, a SPEAK test will be available on the canvas site to complete.  If you have problems, questions, or concerns with the SPEAK test on the Canvas site, please contact Dan Meyers, Irvin Hall 47, by calling (513) 529-2510 or emailing at meyersde@miamioh.edu.

What happens during the test?


Be advised that each exam will have a time limit of 120 minutes and you may have two attempts to take the exam. If you wait until the last minute to take the exam, you risk running into the deadline of the exam and not being able to complete the exam. In such cases, the grading committee will treat this as a failed attempt at taking the exam and you will be given a score of "Fail."

You will need the following pieces of hardware and software:

  • a computer (Windows, Macintosh, Linux, iOS, Android).
  • a current and up-to-date web browser, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, or Opera.
  • a microphone available to record your voice (either built-in to the computer or an external headset or USB microphone that can be plugged in to the computer.
  • Audio recording software installed on your computer, such as Audacity, which is a free download. However, any software that can capture audio and save it as an *.aif, *.mp3, *.m4a, *.ogg, *.wav or *.wma file will work.

As you go through the exam, you will read and listen to the questions, then you will record your answer using your computer and headset/microphone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there materials available to practice for the test?

Yes. If you wish, you can take a practice test to see what the format of the test is like. Self-Enroll into the SPEAK Test Canvas Site by clicking the button on this page and using your Miami UniqueID and MUNet Password. You can take the practice test up to 10 times.

Do I have to upload the audio each time that I take the practice test?

You do not have to, but if you want to simulate the real test as closely as possible, then you should. For each question, you will record your answer using an audio recording application and then upload each answer to the specific question. These audio files are not kept or graded. They will be replaced each time you take the practice test.

Is there a count down for each answer? Do we have to think about the time in general and record it?

There is no count down to record the questions. You will simply use a recording software application like Audacity to record your answers, save the file, and then upload all the answers in one file at the end of the exam. You should keep your answers to the time allotted for each question, so if you see "Record your answer: (10 seconds)" after the question, then you should budget about 10 seconds to answer that question.

I need to know whether we have the same practice test to practice using 10 attempts.

For the practice test, yes, the questions are exactly the same each time.

Are the scores given for the attempts? The score for my first attempt is not displayed.

The practice test is not graded and audio files are not kept with this test. You will not see scores immediately in the real test because a committee of three people will have to listen to each of your answers and judge your ability and proficiency fo speak English.

I'm confused about the timing of the test.

The real test will last approximately 20 minutes in total length. However, we pad in a lot of extra time (up to 120 minutes for the total allocated attempt) because you have to record each of your answers and upload the file at the end of the exam. In the past, students have been able to complete the test in anywhere from 30-45 minutes. So expect about 20 minutes of actual testing time, and anywhere from 10-30 minutes for file saving and uploading. We’ve allocated up to 120 minutes to err on the side of caution to be absolutely sure that students, especially those with very slow internet connections or sudden internet connectivity problems, can complete the exam.

Do I have 120 minutes for the two attempts during the exam?

For the actual exam, you will have a total of 120 minutes from the time you start the exam to submit your answers. If the first attempt does not work for whatever reason, you can retake the exam a second time, and have another 120 minute to take the second attempt. If there are continuing internet problems or you could not upload your audio file after both attempts, you will need to contact Daniel Meyers (meyersde@miamioh.edu) for assistance.

Can I upload two audios and do you consider both of them for scoring during the exam?

No. We only listen to the most recent audio file that you uploaded. If you decided to take the second attempt, the audio from the first attempt is erased.

My audio recording software doesn't allow me to pause while recording. What do I do?

You should save each of your audio answers as a separate file, and then create a *.zip archive of all 12 answers to the questions. Upload the *.zip file at the end of the exam. If you continue to have issues, , you will need to contact Daniel Meyers (meyersde@miamioh.edu) for assistance.

I get "ERR_CONNECTION_TIMED_OUT" on my screen.

From your error message, it seems to me that the internet connection is either being throttled or not fast enough for the Canvas server, so the server times out. If possible, you might have to find a stronger or faster internet connection. Make sure your web browser is updated to the most recent version as well.

I'm in China and can't access the site. The web page is blocked.

You will probably have to use VPN to tunnel in to Miami because of the Great Firewall of China might be blocking the connection. Try to download the latest version of Miami’s Cisco VPN for Windows or Cisco VPN for Mac OS. Use your Miami UniqueID and Miami Network Password to log in.

Do we have to select a specific date or time for the actual test?

No, once the actual test becomes active, you have the entire time period, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to take the exam, until the cutoff at 11:59pm Eastern Standard (or Daylight) Time of the last day of the testing period.

When will results become available?

The grading committee will begin to grade exams the day after the test. Results are usually given to the Graduate School in the morning of the next business day and you will receive an email message indicating your rating once the grading committee has completed your exam evaluation.

What do the test results mean?

FAIL: Students have failed the test. They may not teach courses and will be assigned other graduate duties if they were originally assigned to teach. Students will register for ACE 619 - Advanced Speaking and Presenting. This course is an introduction to American English pronunciation for students learning English as a second language. Topics to be discussed will include: the speech mechanism, the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), consonants, vowels, word stress, sentence stress, and intonation. Students will have the opportunity to practice using and listening to American English during small groups in lab sections. The goal for this course is for students to learn strategies for development of more native-like speech production. Students will have an opportunity to retake the test when they feel that they are ready. If a student fails the test a second time, however, they will not be able to teach while attending the university.

CONDITIONAL PASS: Students may teach for one semester only and will also register for ACE 619 - Aadvanced Speaking and Presenting. Students will have an opportunity to retake the test when they feel that they are ready. If a student fails the test a second time, however, they will not be permitted to teach courses and will be assigned other graduate duties. If the student conditionally passes the second time, they may teach for one more semester while continuing courses in the American Culture and English program.

PASS: Students have passed the test and may teach at the university.

I took the TOEFL test and got a good score. Why do I have to take the SPEAK test too?

There are two main answers to this question:

The TOEFL test is used primarily for admissions purposes at Miami University, whereas the SPEAK test is used to determine whether or not the person taking the SPEAK test can speak sufficiently for American students to understand them in a classroom setting. Even though the TOEFL and SPEAK tests both have a speaking component to the tests, the purposes of each component are sufficiently different.

Ohio law indicates that all students who have been offered a graduate teaching assistantship must be certified as proficient in oral English. This includes graduate students who have responsibility for laboratory in additional to classroom instruction.