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 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.

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

Center for Language Education


What is the ELPA speaking test?

In the speaking test, candidates will be required to prepare a speech in which they introduce themselves and give a recorded monologue on a topic related to being a research student. Candidates will complete the test live online and submit their speech in the form of a video through the HKUST Canvas Learning Management System on a specific day of their choosing within the exam period in August (see below).

Click here to see 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 ensure RPg students have the oral and aural skills for effective postgraduate studies and classroom teaching, before the start of their first term of study at HKUST, all new full-time RPg students are required to take a spoken English test, the English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA) and attain an overall score higher than or equal to the threshold score (Level 4).

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 LANG5000 to improve their spoken English and passed the course by reaching the threshold of Level 4 in the ELPA Speaking Test.

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

The ELPA Test for RPGs will be held between 17-24 August 2023. Online registration will open on 11 August 2023 afternoon.

Students will be contacted by the ELPA team via email with an invitation to book a test. 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. The test will be held online; you will not need to come to HKUST to take the test.

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.

How can I check my test booking was successful or check my test details?

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 will 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.

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 booking. Please note that your choice of test time 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) at your earliest convenience. Request for a make-up test submitted one week later from your test date will not be accepted.

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 fluent speakers of English will be considered for exemption. Please email lcelpa@ust.hk to apply for exemption.

Students may choose to register for LANG 5000 without taking the ELPA Speaking test.

How can I prepare?

You should use spoken English as much as possible in the days before the test. You will do much better if you can be relaxed and feel comfortable speaking in English.

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

Will I need to have anything with me?

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 during the test, such as mobile phones and smart watches, are strictly prohibited.

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 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.

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 lcstdadvice@ust.hk.

For other issues related to PG studies, please visit the website of the Office of Postgraduate Studies at http://pg.ust.hk.