Listening and Speaking Practice Test (English)
You have been registered to take ALTA’s Spoken Language Evaluation. This evaluation, which is conducted live over the telephone, tests your speaking ability in a given language. Your evaluator will be a native speaker of the language being tested, and the test will last between 15 and 25 minutes depending on your skill level.
At the time of the test, you will call the phone number and will enter the access code or pin provided by your organization to be connected with the evaluator. Note that the access code is valid for 15 minutes (5 minutes before the time of the test and 10 minutes after). If you fail to call by this fifteen-minute time period, you will be reported as no show to the organization that requested you to be tested.
We recommend you to be in a quiet place and have a very good phone connection so you can perform at your best.
Before the test begins, the evaluator will ask you:
- To say your full name
- The permission to record the conversation
- To agree to an honor statement
Additionally, one other identity question may be asked. The evaluator will then proceed with the test questions, which will be about a variety of general topics (for example: routine actions, stating a preference, describing past or future situations, discussing a course of action, or defending one’s opinion) and topics more specific to your job depending on the test that you have been requested to take. The test allows you to provide numerous samples of your speaking ability in the target language.
- If you have a connection problem and cannot hear your evaluator properly, let him or her know about this at the start of the test.
- The permission to record the conversation
- The test is progressive – that is, the questions become harder as you move through the test. Don’t get frustrated if, for example, you find a question in the middle of the test to be difficult. Language learners have different strengths and weaknesses, and the evaluator knows it is possible for a test-taker to mishear an intermediate question but respond very well to the most difficult questions. This is why the evaluator will never stop the test if the test-taker is struggling to answer questions. You will be given the opportunity to answer every question on the test.
- Many of the questions deal with everyday topics and conversational language. Others may be asked in a more formal type of speech. If you are able, you should use the same type of language in your answer as was used in the question.
- The questions use a wide variety of vocabulary – you will hear common vocabulary and advanced vocabulary, along with some phrases and idioms. It is important for you as a test-taker to demonstrate the range of your vocabulary, as well.
- The evaluator won’t be judging the content of your answers, only the way you use the language. There is no right or wrong answer for any question on the test.
- If you need a question repeated or rephrased, let your evaluator know. After a total of two repetitions for the whole test, your evaluator must subtract points from your score.
- Depending on the test that has been assigned to you, you may be asked to read 1 or 2 passages, to translate some words from English into the target language, to respond to some challenging situations, or to interpret some sentences.
At the end of the evaluation, you will be instructed to hang up the telephone. You will be scored in the categories of communication, comprehension, grammar, and vocabulary. An overall score will be assigned to your performance and your results will be sent to the company requesting your test. Your evaluator is not allowed to share your score with you.
Below are some sample questions and answers for the general test, the medical test, the education test for High School students, and the test for flight attendants.
Objective 3 – DescribingDescribe Your Shoes
Sample answer: My shoes are light brown boots. I think they’re leather. They’re a few years old and very comfortable.
Objective 8 – Giving DirectionsExplain how to buy a book from a website.
Sample answer: First, go to a website that sells books. Then, use the search bar at the top of the page to input either the title or the author of the book you want. Once you find the book, you will usually put it in a virtual shopping cart before you complete your order. To make the purchase, you put in your shipping information and credit card number. Click the button that says “place order” and then your purchase should be complete.
Objective 10 – Describing Near Future ActivitiesTell me three things you will do the next time you go to a restaurant.
Sample answer: The next time I go to a restaurant, I will ask for a table for three people. I will make sure that my child has a kids’ menu. I will probably order hot tea at the start of the meal.
Objective 17 – Answering an impersonal questionHow would a scientist feel about the healthcare conditions in your region?
Sample answer: I think a scientist would be concerned about the number of chronic conditions people have in this region, as well as the lack of affordable healthcare. If people don’t have the financial means to go to doctors for preventative care, then their healthcare costs only get higher when they need to go to a hospital for an emergency.
Objective 22 – Dealing with a difficult situationYou are the manager of a clothing store. One of your employees was caught stealing merchandise on the store’s video cameras. Explain the situation and your plan of action to the employee.
Sample answer: I have something important I need to discuss with you. I was reviewing the after-hours security footage last night, and it’s clear that you took some merchandise off the front table and put it into your tote bag. I will give you a chance to tell me about this in a moment. But I want to let you know that this is a very serious incident. I need you to return the merchandise immediately, and then we will discuss putting together a probation plan for your continued employment.
Objective 3 – DescribingDescribe the symptoms of chickenpox.
Sample answer 1: Some of the symptoms of chickenpox are fatigue, a loss of appetite, and a fever. Another well-known symptom of chickenpox is a rash that may spread over the entire body.
Sample answer 2: I had chickenpox as a child, so here is what I remember. I had itchy red spots all over my body. I was also tired and had a fever.
Objective 8 – Giving DirectionsExplain how to give a patient an injection.
Sample answer 1: First, you need the correct supplies, which include a syringe and needle, an antiseptic pad, gauze, and a bandage. You also need the medicine to inject, and you need to know the dose you will be giving. Wash your hands, and then prepare the medicine and put it into the syringe. Then attach a needle to the syringe. Clean the portion of the patient’s skin where you will give the injection. Then inject the needle straight down. Use the plunger part of the syringe to make sure that the medication enters the patient. Then pull the needle out and dispose of it in the proper way.
Sample answer 2: I don’t have any personal experience giving an injection, but here’s what I’ve observed from having a shot at my primary care provider’s office. The nurse cleans the spot for the injection and then gets the shot ready. The medication is already in the shot, so the nurse inserts a needle into the syringe. Then the nurse gives the injection. It’s usually very quick. Then the nurse puts the needle in the “sharps” bin on the wall.
Objective 10 – Describing Near Future ActivitiesTell me three things you will do the next time a patient has an anxiety attack.
Sample answer 1: I will first check to be sure that the patient is not in cardiac distress. If I have ruled that out, I will ask if they have experienced a panic attack before. Then I will listen to the patient so I can figure out how to help.
Sample answer 2: I haven’t had to help a patient with an anxiety attack, but I have had to assist a friend who was having one. If I witness this again, the first thing I will do is make sure my friend sits down and is comfortable. I will ask her if she has any physical pain. Then I will get her some water and sit with her to help her calm down.
Objective 17 – Answering an impersonal questionWhat are some of the reasons that a person could lose consciousness?
Sample answer 1: There are a lot of reasons for this. Some of them are medical emergencies, such as head injury, brain injury, or stroke. Losing consciousness sometimes happens if a person has low blood sugar or has been abusing alcohol.
Sample answer 2: Being hit very hard on the head could cause a person to lose consciousness. It could also happen if a person doesn’t eat or drink anything for a long time. People also lose consciousness due to drinking or taking drugs.
Objective 22 – Dealing with a difficult situationYou have a patient who has been experiencing seizures. The patient drives a bus for a living, but it is recommended that he quit driving until the seizures have stopped. Explain to the patient that he will need to take a leave from his job.
Sample answer 1: We need to talk about your job and how it relates to your condition right now. Since you’ve reported having two seizures recently, I cannot give you permission to return to your current job duties. You will need to be seizure-free for six months before you can return to driving. If you like, I can write a report with this information that you can give to your supervisor. I hope that your supervisor will be understanding about this. It’s critical that you not drive or operate any other heavy machinery until we’re sure that you are seizure-free.
Sample answer 2: I have some hard news to tell you. Based on what you told me about your seizures, you are going to be unable to return to work until I’m sure that your seizures have stopped. I’m going to put you on some medication to help with your seizures, and I will of course monitor you over the next few months. But it will be unsafe for you to drive while you are taking this medication. This is especially important considering that you drive a bus, and you could be risking others’ lives by driving while taking this medication. I’m sorry, but you will definitely need to take a leave from your job.
Objective 10 – Describing Near Future ActivitiesTell me three things you will do the next time you take a math test.
Sample answer: The next time I take a math test, I’ll prepare by getting out my calculator and pencils. Then I will take the test and check my work as I go. Then I’ll look at my answers one more time before I turn it in.
Objective 17 – Answering an Impersonal QuestionWhat would a visitor from another school think about your school cafeteria?
Sample answer: It depends on what kind of food the visitor likes. If they like pizza, hamburgers, and chicken nuggets, they would probably think the cafeteria is fine. If they didn’t like these foods, they would probably be disappointed with the cafeteria.
Objective 22 – Dealing with a difficult situationYou are taking a test in class. During the test, you see a student using their phone to look up answers. You decide to speak to the student after the test. Explain what you would say.
Sample answer: Hey, I noticed you were using your phone during the test, and I could tell you were googling some of the questions on the test to get the answers. That’s really not fair to the rest of the class, you know? I think if you went to Mr. Jones and explained the situation, he’d go easy on you. Maybe he’d let you retake another version of the test. That’s what I suggest you do.
Objective 17: Answering an Impersonal QuestionWhat would a person who is flying for the first time think about air travel in the United States?
Sample answer: A first-time flyer would probably be amazed at all the waiting in lines he has to do before getting on the plane. Flying these days is a long process, involving check-in, security, and waiting at the gate. I would hope he has a good experience on the plane, though.
Objective 22: Dealing with a difficult situationThe flight you’re working is beginning its descent. A passenger gets up to use the restroom after the captain has instructed everyone to stay seated. Inform the passenger that she needs to return to her seat.
Sample answer: Ma’am, excuse me, I can’t allow you to be out of your seat right now. There are safety issues involved when someone is moving around during descent. It will only be about 20 minutes until we are on the ground. I will make sure that you can get to a restroom as soon as we land.