Before receiving a teaching assignment at UVA, prospective ITAs are required to take a short test called the UVA SPEAK Test, which rates general oral language ability. This locally created test, based on the nationally-recognized SPEAK Test, made available to universities by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), is administered in August, December, or May of each year by CAELC and takes less than one hour. The test uses standard spoken English and does not require any specialized vocabulary or advance preparation. The UVA SPEAK Test consists of activities such as giving information, expressing opinions, summarizing dialogues, and explaining graphs or charts.

The test results are used to determine whether a prospective TA could benefit from additional language training to develop the communication skills required in US classrooms (in addition to whatever training is provided by the TA's department.) The UVA SPEAK Test is scored on a scale of  20 - 60.  Based on these scores, students may be referred to the Center for American English Language and Culture (CAELC) to continue to improve their spoken English before they are released to teach.

Do I need this test?

All prospective graduate teaching assistants whose first language is one other than English are required to take the SPEAK Test. A student's department will determine their eligibility for the SPEAK Test and communicate the student's information to CAELC

This means that you still must take the SPEAK Test even if you:

  • Took another English language exam (UVELPE, TOEFL, IELTS, etc.); or
  • Graduated from an accredited institution where English is the primary language of instruction.

A score of at least 55 on the SPEAK Test is required for permission to begin teaching without completion of appropriate oral language training. 

To read more about UVA's language requirement, please refer to the graduate handbook here.

When is the next test offered?

The next SPEAK Administration will be on August 2020.

How do I register?

SPEAK candidates are registered for this test by their departments.  CAELC will then contact all SPEAK candidates about the test and provide instructions on how to reserve a testing time.

If you believe that you need the SPEAK Test and have not yet received information from CAELC on the upcoming test date, please contact your Director of Graduate Studies/graduate department.  CAELC is unable to register you for this test without first receiving confirmation from your department.