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About the Test Format and Assessment

About the Test Questions

The TSST Structure

The TSST takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, including the test instructions. The TSST consists of 10 recorded questions. The examinee responds to each question within 45 seconds. After 45 seconds of recording time, the next question is automatically played.

How the Questions are Presented

In order to minimize the risk of the test-taker not understanding the question, the questions are asked in both Japanese and English, once each. This is to ensure that test-takers will be rated solely on their speaking ability and not be penalized for poor listening skills.

Types of Questions

Test-takers will hear questions that target functions of different levels of proficiency. Questions are randomly chosen from a large volume of recorded question pools.

Sample Questions
  • Please describe (    ).
  • Please talk about the last time you (    ).
  • Please compare (    ) with (    ).
  • How is the TSST Assessed?

    The TSST is designed to holistically measure the test-taker’s speaking proficiency by assessing how well a person can answer function-based questions. Because conversations progress in real-time, the assessment of speaking proficiency must be based on spontaneous speech. The test questions are carefully designed so that the test-taker must produce speech spontaneously by utilizing his or her knowledge on the English language, including vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.

    Three certified raters assess the test-taker’s English proficiency based on the following criteria. The final rating is determined holistically by the results of all 10 questions.

    Criteria for the TSST ratings:
    Function-based Ability
    (what the test-taker can do using English)
    Text Type Ability
    (what kinds of sentences and speech patterns the test-taker can use)
    (the combination of grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, fluency)
    Content / Context
    (the range of topics (from personal issues to social issues) the test-taker can respond to)

    About the Certified Raters

    The Certified Raters are highly qualified raters who have exceptional English proficiency. All raters have participated in intensive training and have passed the certification test. In addition, the Certified Raters are specialists, who can analyze and assess English spoken by Japanese learners. All Certified Raters must attend training sessions throughout the year in order to maintain and advance their rating skills.

    About the Score Report

    After five or six business days from the end of the testing period, test-takers will be notified of a website to check their results and see comments regarding their proficiency level. Click here to see a sample score report. (The score report is offered in Japanese only.)

    Note: If the TSST was taken by request of an organization (e.g., an HR department), the organization will receive a list of scores of all test-takers.

    » Next: About the Test Levels

    • General Information
    • Format / Assessment
    • TSST Levels
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