TOEFL SpeechRater: How accurate is it?

One of my Online TOEFL Course students used TOEFL SpeechRater. TOEFL SpeechRater is an automated scoring system that Education Testing Service has created.  The behemoth educational institution has used the application for more than a decade.

TOEFL SpeechRater
TOEFL SpeechRater

TOEFL SpeechRater: What is it?

When students complete TOEFL Practice Online, they have the option to use SpeechRater to score their independent and integrated speaking practice tests. SpeechRater is an automatic application. The app uses speech recognition. The advanced artificial program uses processing technology to grade your spoken responses.

TOEFL SpeechRater: What does it evaluate?

The program grades your speaking practice tests in pronunciation, fluency, vocabulary, and grammar. These four areas are also the same areas that iBT human raters look at when they are grading your responses using the official rubrics.

Pronunciation:  TOEFL SpeechRater has a very advanced speech recognition program. Therefore, if the program cannot understand some of the words in your response, the program knows to score you lower.  For example, maybe you are having some problems with vowel and consonant sounds. In addition, you may not be pronouncing certain parts of a word correctly. As a result, TOEFL SpeechRater can accurately detect those problems.  However, the program is not able to tell you what specific areas such as long or short vowels are hurting your ability to speak clearly.

Fluency:   Fluency refers to the ability to easily and articulately deliver your TOEFL speaking tasks. Moreover, SpeechRater can also accurately evaluate your speaking in this area.  Frequent pauses and hesitations will signal to TOEFL SpeechRater that you should receive a lower score. In addition, consistent difficulties pronouncing a word or string of words will tell SpeechRater that you are having problems.

Vocabulary:  TOEFL SpeechRater can recognize the vocabulary that you are using.  The software can compare your vocabulary to a database of both simple and basic vocabulary.  Your using mostly simple or imprecise vocabulary will tell TOEFL SpeechRater that you have limitations. As a result, you will score lower.

Grammar:  SpeechRater can detect problems that you might be having with subject-verb agreement. The program can tell if you are using singular and plural nouns correctly.  It can also tell you are demonstrating control over your verb tenses.  Therefore, the program seems to be  fairly accurate in evaluating your grammar usage.

TOEFL SpeechRater: What are the limitations?

TOEFL SpeechRater cannot determine whether or not your content matches the requirements of the task.  For example, let’s say that are answering speaking task 4: reading, listening, speaking–academic.  SpeechRater will  not know whether or not you have presented the most important points from the lecture. Nor will the program know whether or not you have presented the most important parts of the reading passage. Finally, the program will not diagnose whether you have made the required connections in the reading and listening passages. Here are some additional limitations:

  • SpeechRater cannot diagnose and provide feedback to you so that you understand what pronunciation improvements you need: vowels, consonants, syllable division, grammatical word endings, word stress, sentence rhythm, intonation, thought groups, and blending.
  • SpeechRater cannot tell you specifically which areas of your grammar are weaker. For example, it will not tell you that you have specific problems forming adjective clauses.

TOEFL SpeechRater:  Final Comments

TOEFL SpeechRater has a 10-20% inaccuracy rate. Therefore, if you want to get 100% accurate scoring, you may want to join STEALTH, an Online TOEFL Course created by founder and mentor Michael Buckhoff, who has

  • Been teaching TOEFL preparation for more than 25 years.
  • Graded more than 30,000 speaking practice tests over the last eight years.
  • Coached 1000’s and 1000’s and 1000’s of students to scores of 26+ on speaking.
  • Helped 1000’s of students reduce their non-native speaker accents.

You can learn more about his TOEFL courses here:

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