General TfCS FAQs

TfCS Oral Communication Assessment FAQs

Clear Speech FAQs
via the Department of Communication Studies

What is the Oral Communication Assessment?
It is a 30-minute diagnostic test of students’ ability to speak English effectively and intelligibly in a real-world setting. During the assessment, students are video-recorded while they complete four oral tasks, including reading a passage aloud, giving directions or instructions, describing a personal experience, and role-playing. Following the assessment, each student’s video will be scored by Professional Speech Consultants, and scores and detailed comments will be provided for each student on VOCAT.
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Who should take it?
If you feel as though your speech could be clearer, or if you take advantage of any Tools for Clear Speech services, the Oral Communication Assessment is for you! It will help you to better understand your challenges and help you build your skills.
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Why should I take it?
To obtain an objective view of your individual communicative challenges, and understand which skills you possess, as well as those you might need to work on.
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How often should I take it?
You should take the test each semester to have a clear picture of how your spoken English skills are developing, as well as the progress you’ve made in your time at Baruch.
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Who will have access to my videos and scores?
It will only be accessible by you and the TfCS staff.
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How will I be scored?
In the first part of the test, the raters will score your pronunciation, stress, intonation and intelligibility. In the next three parts of the test, the raters will score the clarity and fluidity of your speech, how effectively you use grammar and vocabulary to convey your ideas, how fully and coherently you present your ideas and how well you put together your communicative strategies to meet social language norms and expectations.
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How can I prepare for the test?
Be sure to read your confirmation email carefully, as it contains the room number and time for your assessment. Show up a few minutes early so that you can relax and focus on communicating clearly!

If you have time beforehand, you can do some warm-up exercises to get your muscles ready.
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When and how can I check my scores?
When your assessment is scored and ready for your review, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions. Your video, scores and comments will be available on your private VOCAT page, and will be visible to no one other than the Tools for Clear Speech staff. Click HERE to log in to VOCAT with your Baruch username and password.After accessing your scores and comments on VOCAT, take some time to fully review your assessment and understand the critique that your Speech Consultants have provided. You should watch the full assessment at least twice to understand your challenges and progress.
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Can I talk to someone about my scores?
After reviewing the feedback provided by a Speech Consultant, you may schedule an appointment to discuss your assessment during a one-to-one appointment. Click HERE to make a one-to-one appointment.
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How do I sign up for the test?
Log in to the TfCS online scheduler and choose “Oral Communication Assessment” from the drop down menu. Choose an open appointment that fits your schedule and enter the appropriate information. You will receive a confirmation email after you complete the appointment form.
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Where do I take the test?
Please check your confirmation email carefully to confirm the time and location of your assessment.
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What is muscle memory?
Your tongue and lips know from years of practice how to produce your native language sounds. To pronounce the sounds of English correctly, you need to train these muscles to move differently. When you don’t have to think consciously about the new sounds and your mouth muscles produce the correct English sounds automatically, you have achieved “muscle memory.”
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How long will it take to change my accent?
Athletic trainers say that it take 1,000 repetitions to commit a sports move (e.g., in skiing or gymnastics) to muscle memory. It’s similar with our speech organs. Each person will experience a period of being able to reduce his or her accent when consciously thinking about it. However, to get the changes into the subconscious mind may take six months to a year. Like playing golf, tennis, or a musical instrument, accent training requires practice, practice, practice.
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Why should I improve my accent?
Employers commonly rank spoken communication skills highest among the skills desired in college graduates. While you don’t have to eradicate your accent completely (a little bit of an accent can be quite charming), you should strive to be comprehensible and not put a burden on your listeners, straining to understand you.
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Where should I start?
You have two options: (1) You can go to the lab on your own and select programs with speech features of your interest. Some programs come with books (you can check them out at the attendants’ desk), and some are software programs without accompanying books. (2) You can make an appointment with a speech tutor at SACC (2nd floor). The tutor can diagnose your speech, including “hidden” speech problems that you may not know and that may be even more important than specific sounds (e.g., stress, rhythm, and intonation). The tutor may meet with you regularly, to check your progress and direct your lab practice.
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How often should I practice in the lab?
You should practice as often as possible, but at least once a week for an hour.
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What results can I expect?
Clearer, more polished speech and a more standard North American accent. Your improved pronunciation will help you perform better in school, during job interviews, and at work.
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