The SLPT measures speaking skills of international students applying for an assistantship during a short interaction with examiners. A topic is sent to the examinee’s email address the day before the scheduled exam. Examinees will prepare 10-minutes worth of content for the oral presentation and should be able to answer a few questions as if teaching a freshman class or lab. Examinees may use the whiteboard or refer to notes, but the lesson should not be read. Each SLPT exam is video recorded.
The SLPT evaluators will assess the examinee's overall comprehensibility in three key areas: pronunciation, language and delivery. Read the list below for a breakdown of how each area is scored.
- Pronunciation (35 Points)
- Articulation of Sound: Pronounces sounds clearly enough at the word level that the listener can understand what word is intended.
- Word Stress: Correct word stress (expecTAtion, SIMilar, scenARio); does not add or drop syllables (chang –ed; experim…); occasional incorrect word stress does not impede understanding.
- Intonation: Varied pitch aids in understanding the meaning (a variety of rising, falling and level tones; rising for Y/N questions; falling at end of sentences).
- Prominence: Says important words louder, longer and higher pitched to give emphasis; pauses for emphasis; may use body language to emphasize key words.
- Language (20 Points)
- Grammar: Presenter uses a wide range of grammatical structures effectively (Errors are minor or infrequent and do not interfere with / distract from learning).
- Vocabulary: Uses a wide vocabulary flexibly to discuss topics at length and make the meaning clear.
- Delivery (35 Points)
- Fluency: Able to speak coherently at length with a smooth flow of words (neither too fast, nor too slow). No long pauses to search for words. Does not use a lot of repetition or self-correction (related to language).
- Comprehensibility: Presenter enhances his / her communication by using gestures and visual aids (such as pointing to the board). Uses repetition and paraphrasing to help the audience understand. Appropriate volume.
- Audience Awareness: Presenter is aware of listener non-comprehension; uses techniques such as eye-contact, wait time, and comprehension check questions – “Does everyone understand so far?”
- Organization: Material presented in a logical order. Presenter uses transitional phrases effectively to provide cohesion to the content (“First” “Second,” “Okay, let me summarize by…” “For example”).
- Context: Presenter gives clear definitions and examples. Able to adjust these if needed based on audience interaction.
- Aural Comprehension: Presenter demonstrates listening comprehension of English spoken at a natural rate. Negotiates meaning through appropriate questions.
Registration, Test Dates and Availability
Registration may fill up quickly so register early to get your preferred date and time. The deadline to register for the SLPT is 30 days prior to each test date. Space may still be available after the deadline has passed. When available, late registrations are assessed a late fee of $20.
A valid passport is the only acceptable form of identification. If you come on the test day without your passport, you will not be tested and your test fee will not be transferred or refunded.
The SLPT is worth a total of 90 points and examinees must have a score of 72 or higher to meet the graduate teaching assistant speaking requirement. A report will be sent by mail approximately two weeks after the exam which include a total score along with individual scores for pronunciation, language and delivery as well as any specific areas where improvement is required. All results are forwarded to the Graduate School and International Education.