This time I tried to use the SpeechRater implementation at My Speaking Score to produce the highest scoring “short” answer I could come up with. Once again, my answer is just 74 words in total. You can hear it below:
Here’s a transcript:
Clearly, it’s advantageous to study various subjects while we are at university. This is because it makes it possible to find our true passion. For instance, when I was a freshman, I took courses in chemistry, psychology and history. While I was enamored with all of them, eventually I discovered that I was most fascinated by chemistry. As a result, I ended up majoring in that. Moreover, I gained interdisciplinary insights throughout my journey.
This is almost the same as the last answer. I’ve improved the vocabulary a little by using slightly less common words. I added an -ly adverb to the beginning.
The main difference is that I delivered this in a natural speaking voice at a normal pace. That means I finished after only 30 seconds. As you will recall, last time I slowed it down to a unnatural pace and finished at 45 seconds.
The result… a score of 3.46, or 27/30. Wow. This isn’t a fluke. I recorded a similar (but slightly different) answer of 80 words and got a score of 3.6.
The fluency markers are all fantastic:
But how can that be? I scored in the 87th percentile for response length, but scored in the 14th percentile for response rate last time… with the same number of words. My guess is that the SpeechRater compares the number of words in the answer only to responses of the same length. Do you get what I mean? My answer was compared only to other 30 second answers and I included more words than most of them. Again, I want to stress that this isn’t a fluke. My 80-word answer got a similar response length score.
Perhaps we as teachers we should stress pace rather than word count.
Pronunciation and Vocabulary
Moving on, here are the pronunciation and vocabulary scores:
The pronunciation is better this time, but it still didn’t really like my rhythm. That’s a flukier score, I think. My 80-word answer was in the 98th percentile. I think the SpeechRater isn’t perfect when it comes to measuring that dimension. Perhaps I will make 20 unique recordings of the same answer one day and track the scores.
The vocabulary scores are okay. Perhaps my low word count limited my ability to use a lot of uncommon words in the answer. That makes sense.
Grammar and Coherence
My grammar and coherence scores are as follows
So there you have it. It is possible to get a good SpeechRater score on an independent response with a “short” answer. This does track with what ETS says about how the human raters check answers. ETS speakers have said again and again that it is not necessary to speak quickly on the test. I don’t know if this can be applied to the integrated speaking tasks, but I’ll check my notes about how many actual details need to be included in the answer. At the last presentation I attended it was implied that only half of the details from the lecture of a type three speaking question need to be included. Maybe thirty seconds is enough.
If any of my faithful readers want to sponsor a few test attempts I’ll march down to the test center and run these experiments in an actual testing environment.