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?

The ELPA speaking test will be organised in a group format. Candidates will be required to prepare a speech in which they introduce themselves and give a monologue on a topic related to being a research student. 

Candidates will complete the test on the HKUST campus on a specific day of their choosing within the exam period in Spring 2024 (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 Spring 2024 ELPA Test for RPGs will be held between 31 January – 9 February 2024.  

Online registration period: 15 January 2024, 10 a.m. - 24 January 2024, 3 p.m. 

Students will be contacted by the ELPA team via email no later than 8 January 2024. The email will include an invitation and a link to the Online Registration System, where you can book a time slot for the speaking test. It is important to regularly check your HKUST (ITSC) email account for any updates. 

Through the Online Registration System, you will have the option to select a speaking test time from the available slots. The test will be conducted on campus, requiring you to come to HKUST for the examination. 

During the registration period, students have the flexibility to change their exam time slot by logging into the Online Registration System for the ELPA test. However, please note that the availability of space and time slots may decrease as other students register. 

The registration period will conclude in the afternoon of 24 January 2024. After this deadline, students will not be permitted to make any further changes to their exam time slot. 

Please note that you must have an activated ITSC account and be authorized by ARO to book a test time slot. If you are unsure how to activate your ITSC account, please follow the instructions on the RPG Checklist. ARO 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. 

A confirmation email will be sent to you on 26 January 2024, which will include your test details.  

Can I change the time for my test?

During the registration period, students have the flexibility to change their exam time slot by logging into the Online Registration System for the ELPA test. However, please note that the availability of time slots may 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 48 hours 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 an exemption before 31 January 2024

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.