Test of Oral English Proficiency (TOEP)The Test of Oral English Proficiency (TOEP) is a speaking exam administered by the Program in Academic English/ESL at UCI. TOEP is a face-to-face exam designed specifically for the purpose of assessing graduate students' communication skills in English in order to determine their eligibility for teaching assistant (TA) appointments.
Click on the following sections to learn more about the TOEP exam.
Who Needs To Take Oral English Proficiency Exams?
UCI Graduate Policies and Procedures state that “International and U.S. Permanent Resident graduate students who are not citizens of countries where English is either the primary or dominant language, as approved by the UCI Graduate Council, must pass one of the following English proficiency exams in order to be considered for appointment as a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Teaching Associate” (Graduate Policies and Procedures, pg. 26).
Scores that are considered “passing” on the oral proficiency exams are as follows:
NOTE: The SPEAK and TOEP tests can only be taken after admission to UCI.
NOTE: Upon entrance to UCI, TOEFL iBT and IELTS scores that are more than two years old are not acceptable (Graduate Policies and Procedures, pg. 13).
NOTE: “Non-U.S. citizens who are permanent residents or hold other non-citizen status and are residing in the United States, who have completed their undergraduate education in the United States, or attended American schools abroad are still required to pass one of the English language proficiency examinations as noted” (Graduate Policies and Procedures, pg. 27).
NOTE: “International and permanent resident graduate students whose native language is not English, who have completed all years of their high school education in the United States, are eligible to request an exemption by submitting a request and official high school transcripts to the Graduate Student Employment Analyst in the Graduate Division. No student is permitted to begin an appointment as a Teaching Assistant or Teaching Associate until the exemption has been approved in writing” (Graduate Policies and Procedures, pg. 27).
NOTE: The UCI Graduate Division is responsible for shaping the policies and procedures for Teaching Assistantships.
Eligibility For First-Time TOEP Test-Takers
All UCI graduate students who have an official TOEFL iBT or IELTS score report on file are eligible to take the TOEP for the first time.
Students who do not have a TOEFL iBT or IELTS score on file must take the SPEAK test and receive a score of 40 or above to be eligible to take the TOEP for the first time.
Students scoring below 40 on the SPEAK test must first pass an ESL oral communications course (Academic English 23A, 23,B, 23C, or 24) BEFORE they are eligible to take the TOEP for the first time.
For information about a student’s eligibility to retake the TOEP exam, click the “Retaking TOEP” section below.
Task 1: Introduction and read-aloud (untimed)
Student briefly introduces himself/herself and reads aloud a paragraph (provided on the test day).
Task 2: Syllabus or course assignment explanation (5 minutes)
Student explains a syllabus or course assignment sheet (provided on the test day) pretending to address a class of undergraduate students. Then, the student answers questions related to the syllabus or course assignment.
Task 3: Mini-lecture (5 minutes)
Student gives a 5-minute lecture on a topic from his or her major. The topic can be chosen by the student at the time of registration, but it must be a topic that is taught in an introductory-level undergraduate course in the student's discipline. The topic must also be approved by the TOEP Coordinators within one week after registration. Once approved, the student may not change the topic of the lecture before the exam.
Task 4: Question and answer session based on mini-lecture (5 minutes)
Student answers several questions related to the lecture.
Test Day Procedures
The student arrives 15 minutes before his or her official test time to a designated room. The student shows the test administrator his or her picture ID. The student is asked to leave any personal belongings and materials with the administrator before proceeding. The student receives instructions and test materials.
When the official test time begins, the student is escorted to a separate room to take the actual test. The actual test takes approximately 18-20 minutes to complete.
As the TOEP test is designed to assess students’ current oral English proficiency and communication skills, there is no official “practice test” for the exam. Students are encouraged to speak English regularly and as much as possible in their daily lives in order to hone their oral communication skills and prepare for Teaching Assistant appointments.
Ways to Practice and Improve Oral English Proficiency:
Immediately following the TOEP test, the panelists/graders rate each student on his or her oral communication skills on a scale from 1 to 6. In the event that there is a discrepancy in the panel's grades, another grader listens to the recorded test and resolves the score.
The final score for each student is submitted to the Graduate Division within one week of the TOEP test. The Graduate Division enters the scores on the students’ StudentAccess files and sends the scores to the students’ departments.
Students with scores of 5 and 6 on TOEP receive a PASS and are eligible to work as Teaching Assistants.
Students with scores of 1, 2, 3, or 4 on TOEP receive a NO PASS and will not be able to work as Teaching Assistants until they receive a passing score on one of the oral English proficiency exams: TOEP, SPEAK, TOEFL iBT, or IELTS.
Meaning of Scores
NOTE: All TOEP test scores are final and cannot be changed.
Students who receive a score of 4 on TOEP are eligible to retake it the next time the TOEP test is offered.
Students who receive a score of 1, 2, or 3 on the TOEP must first pass an ESL oral communications course (Academic English 23A, 23B, 23C, or 24) BEFORE they are eligible to retake the TOEP.
NOTE: We strongly recommend that all graduate students who wish to improve their oral English skills enroll in an ESL oral communications class (Academic English 23A, 23B, 23C, or 24) before retaking any English language proficiency exam.
NOTE: Students can only take TOEP 5 times. After the 4th test, students must contact the TOEP Coordinator to discuss when the last and final test should be taken.
Test Dates And Registration
The TOEP exam takes place four times per year in the following months:
Registration for each TOEP exam occurs about one month before the TOEP exam dates.
The cost of TOEP is $70.
NOTE: Students should not pay for TOEP until notified to do so. Payments are made to the Cashier's Office ($70 payable to UC Regents).
NOTE: Seats for TOEP fill out very quickly. Therefore, students who wish to take the TOEP are encouraged to register as early as possible during the registration period.
Terms of Agreement
All registered students must promise to keep the contents of the TOEP test confidential and to abide by the UCI policies on academic integrity and student conduct. Students who break this agreement by sharing the contents of the TOEP test with others or using another student's information from a previous TOEP test will be reported to the Office of Academic Integrity and Student Conduct.
Agreement to be Video-Recorded
All TOEP exams are video-recorded. Video-recordings of tests are the property of the Academic English Program at UCI and may be used for the norming and training of TOEP graders and/or educational and research purposes. All registered students will be asked to indicate that they understand that their tests will be video-recorded and may be used by the Academic English Program for academic purposes.
For questions, please contact TOEP@uci.edu
For urgent questions in need of a reply within 24 hours, please contact Sarah Sok (email@example.com) and/or Hannah Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Jerry Won Lee, Director of the Program in Academic English/ESL, AEDirector@uci.edu