English Language Proficiency Assessment


Spoken English Test for RPG Students

To All New Full-time Research Postgraduate Students (MPhils & PhDs)

Welcome to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

As you know, English is the language of instruction at HKUST. It is therefore crucial for you to be proficient in English. The University is strengthening the language support it provides to research postgraduate students (RPGs). We hope the English courses for RPGs will help you to enhance your proficiency. Developing a confident command of English will enable you to engage effectively in your studies, as well as perform any teaching duties you may have.

The Center for Language Education will administer the Spoken English Test for RPG Students to give us an idea of your English level. All Full-time RPGs are required to take the test. If you are a native speaker of English, you may apply for exemption from the test.

If you have any questions, please contact us at lcelpa@ust.hk.

Arthur McNeill PhD
Director
Center for Language Education
HKUST

 


FAQs

 
What is the ELPA speaking test?

In the speaking test, candidates participate in an 8-minute, one-to-one interview with an assessor. The interview has the following stages:

Stage

Length

Task Type

Stage 1 – Warm-up <1 min Greetings and exchange of essential personal information
Stage 2 – Dialogue ~4 mins Responses to questions on a specified topic
Stage 3 – Monologue 3-4 mins A longer speech turn in which a solution to a problem related to the topic is put forward. Candidates have 1 minute to prepare for this longer speech turn.

Click here to see a video of the speaking test.Click here to see a sample speaking test topic.

Candidates’ oral skills are assessed using the ELPA Speaking Scale. There are four equally-weighted assessment criteria, which are:

  • Topic development and coherence
  • Vocabulary range and accuracy
  • Grammar range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation

All speaking tests are recorded.

Click here for a look at the ELPA descriptors of speaking proficiency.

 
Who is required to take it?

All new full-time RPg students (MPhil and PhD) are required to take the test to ensure they have the oral and aural skills for effective postgraduate studies and classroom teaching.

 
Why is this test important?

In order to serve as teaching assistants, students must achieve scores higher than or equal to the threshold score (Level 4) in all of the assessment criteria of the speaking test. Those who are unable to meet the threshold or fail to take the test will not be allowed to take up teaching duties until they have taken and passed LANG5000.

 
When will it be held, and how do I book a time slot?

The Spoken English Test for RPGs will be held on 20 January 2017. Online registration will open the afternoon of 13 January 2017. The cut-off time for booking a test time slot will be at midnight on 19 January 2017. Please note that you must have an activated ITSC account and be authorized by ARRO to book a test time slot. If you are unsure how to activate your ITSC account, please follow the instructions on the RPG Checklist. ARRO will provide a list of authorized students that will be uploaded to the online registration system. This may mean that there will be some delay in processing your access to the system.

 
Can I change the time for my test?

If you become aware of an activity that clashes with the time you booked for your tests, you can go back into the online registration system to change your bookings. Please note that your choice of test times may become restricted as test times get fully booked.

 
Can I apply for a make-up test if I am unwell on the day of the test?

If you are unable to attend your test due to circumstances beyond your control, including medical emergencies, you must contact the ELPA team (lcelpa@ust.hk) within one week from your test date.

If you are absent due to medical reasons, you must obtain a “Certificate of Sickness” issued by a registered medical practitioner that states the diagnosed condition/illness and recommends a period of sick leave that covers the test date.

 
Are there any exemptions?

Only proficient native speakers of English will be considered for exemptions. Please email lcelpa@ust.hk to apply for exemption.

 
How can I prepare?

You should use spoken English as much as possible in the days before the test. You can also try listening to English through various media forms, such as television and radio.

If you have any specific questions about the test, please email lcelpa@ust.hk.

 
Will I need to bring anything with me?

Yes, you will be required to show your HKUST student ID card.

Please note that the use of electronic devices, such as mobile phones and smart watches, are strictly prohibited. If you take such devices with you to the exam, you must switch them off and leave them in your bag while your examination is in progress.

 
How long will the test take?

The entire examination process should take about 20 minutes, including the time for listening to instructions and signing-in.

 
What happens if the HK Observatory raises a bad weather warning?

Please check the official university guidelines. In the event of tests being cancelled due to bad weather, you should wait for further announcements regarding any rearrangements.

 
How will I get my results?

You will get your results through the online feedback system. Please note that accounts are not created on the system until you have results to show. This means you will not be able to access the system until your results are available.

 
Are there any fees?

No fee will be charged, as this is a mandatory test for new incoming RPG students.

 
If I am a student with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and have received examination accommodations in previous public examination(s), am I eligible for any similar accommodations for ELPA?

Students are required to declare their SEN to the Student Affairs Office who will work with the students on available support services, including academic accommodation(s) throughout their study at HKUST. Students with SEN are strongly advised to specify their needs when they register for ELPA online and schedule an appointment with the Student Affairs Office by emailing sen@ust.hk. The data collected will be handled with strict confidentiality and in compliance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance of Hong Kong.

 
What if I have more questions?

Regarding the administration of the Spoken English Test for RPGs, please contact the Center for Language Education by e-mailing lcelpa@ust.hk.
For English course issues, please email lcpoon@ust.hk.
For other issues related to PG studies, please visit the website of the Office of Postgraduate Studies at http://pg.ust.hk.

Copyright © Center for Language Education.
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology