English Speaking Test for RPGs

Dear Research Postgraduate (RPG) Students,

Welcome to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology!!

HKUST is an English-medium university, and proficiency in English, especially in speaking and writing, is essential to you for engaging in your academic studies and for performing your teaching duties effectively.

The Center for Language Education is mandated to provide language support for all undergraduate and postgraduate students at HKUST. With RPGs, we do so by measuring students’ language proficiency levels on entry and providing relevant and timely English courses to enhance your language and academic literacy skills in English.

All new full-time RPGs are, therefore, asked to take an ELPA Speaking Test on entering HKUST, though native speakers of English may apply for exemption.

Please contact us at lcelpa@ust.hk if you have any questions.

Center for Language Education


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

Stage 1 – Warm-up
Greetings and exchange of essential personal information
Stage 2 – Dialogue
Responses to questions on a specified topic
Stage 3 – Monologue
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.

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.

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.

The main round of Spoken English Test for RPGs will be held on 23-27 August 2021. The main round of Spoken English Test for RPGs will be held on 23-27 August 2021. The first round of registration will open on 17 August 2021 afternoon. The other round of registration will open on 19 August afternoon.

RPG students who complete program registration after 3:00 pm, 27 August will be contacted by the ELPA team via email to attend a late test session. Please check your HKUST email account regularly for updates.

You will be able to select a speaking test time from those that are available through the online registration system. Please enter the Zoom meeting ten minutes before your test session.

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.

Please check that your booking was successful and confirmed. You can either check your ITSC email account (http://o365.ust.hk/) for the confirmation email that would be sent to you, which will include your test details, or log back into the online registration website to check your booking status, which will show your current test time and venue.

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.

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.

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

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.

Yes, you will be required to show your HKUST student ID card (or any other photographic ID).

Please note that the use of electronic devices, such as mobile phones and smart watches, are strictly prohibited.

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.

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.

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

Students are required to declare their SEN to the Dean of Students’ 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 Dean of Students’ 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.

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.

This page has been archived.

It has not been updated nor maintained since 1 Sept 2021.

For the latest information on the Center of Language Education, please check the new CLE website.