Speaking Test Design


There are various skills that are tested for in the English language context. They include listening, writing, speaking and reading skills. Khamkhein (2010, 1) acknowledges that among the skills, speaking is the most important as it involves testing for correctness and the errors that the students make. It is due to this that the need for speaking tests has risen as a way to test for various elements in speaking. Speaking tests are designed to test the students’ communicative skills and other elements of speaking that include grammar, pronunciation, listening skills, vocabulary and fluency when speaking. There are methods of conducting these tests, for example, through observation by the examiner and also the structured approach of assessment (Abba 2009). Through these tests several aspects of speaking are examined. Retelling is also another way of assessing a candidate’s oral skill and has been termed as a powerful way of testing (Fulcher 2003). The following is a provision of a sample speaking test involving a student and the tester.

Speaking Test Design Example

Section One

This test will constitute four major sections. Before the test is administered, it is necessary to ensure that the candidates are aware of how it will be assessed (Flood 1992). The first one will comprise of questions that are challenging the candidate on personal information. Here the student is expected to clearly express himself when giving personal information and views. In the entire speaking test the student should be told of what is expected of him through proper guidance from the instructor (Deubelbeiss 2012). It will comprise of questions such as the following.

Part One

This section of the test will take five minutes so you should answer the question the quickest you can. I will ask brief questions about you.

Q.1 what is your name and where are you from?

Q.2 can you briefly describe yourself and tell me about your interests.

Q.3 what do you aspire to accomplish during your stay in school?

Q.4 what extracurricular activities do take participate in school?

Q.5 how would you describe your life so far in school?

Q.6 what kind of family are you from?

Section Two

In this section the candidate will be tested for their ability to put across the argumentative responses to the questions asked. He is required to explain differences between various things, but briefly and in a clear way.

Part Two

In this section you are required to properly show differences giving exhaustive explanations on the questions asked. The time set for this section is ten minutes. And the questions are:

Q.1 what is your view on public schools and private schools?

Q.2 which among them would you say has better services?

Q.3 what do think should be done to improve their services?

Section Three

In this section the candidate’s interpretive skills are tested. There is provision of written or drawn representation of information that the student is required to orally interpret. In this case, statistical data is provided and a brief explanation of what is represented.

Part Three

Here is a chart that represents the trends in population in the private and public schools. I will ask questions regarding the information represented in this graph

Q.1 what is the general trend in the population of the schools?

Q.2 what is shown as the influencing factor to this trend and why?

Q.3 in which areas are the public schools mainly found?

Q.4 what is the difference in representation of the public and private schools from the chart?

Section Four

This section entails preparation of a simple presentation that one will be given time to prepare for and then will be required several simple questions that are in line with the presentation. This will help to test on expression of oneself.

Part Four

This section allows you to prepare a small presentation regarding fashion trends in your country, after five minutes of preparation you are required to answer the following questions regarding this topic.

Q.1 what would you say about the fashion trends in your country?

Q.2 what are the major changes that have occurred in the fashion industry?

Q.3 what do you think has influenced those change?

Q.4 what can be done to improve the fashion industry in your country?


From the test sample shown above, the candidate’s oral proficiency is tested through discussion between the candidate and the tester. The grading of the test will be according to how well he can use language, put across ideas clearly, and come up with easily understood arguments. How well he is able to bring out good pronunciations and how well he can develop a good conversation will influence the performance. The test will therefore bring about consciousness in the candidate’s mind which help him to be more careful in his speaking and will therefore watch out for precision in his speech. As Elder & Wigglesworth (2003) argue, for effectiveness of these tests, there should be provision of preparation time for the candidates.

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