SpCm 212 Test-Out


Successful completion of this Test-out provides an alternate method for meeting the SpCm 212 requirement. It is offered twice each year, prior to the start of fall and spring semesters. The test-out option is not simply a pass/fail exercise. Only students who have college level proficiency in the fundamentals of public speaking can successfully meet the requirements for the test-out.

The Test-out is intended to give credit to those with a good degree of experience who feel confident in their public-speaking abilities, rather than to serve as an option for those with high communication apprehension. If public speaking makes you particularly uncomfortable, you should take the course to help you overcome that discomfort.

Participation does not guarantee that the course requirement will be met. Students who attempt the test-out during their last semester before graduation may not pass and, as a result, may have their graduation delayed. Sections of SpCm 212 fill up very quickly, so it is wise to register for the course to guarantee a spot in case test-out credit is not earned.

To meet the requirement through the test-out, a student must demonstrate high proficiency in the following two components:

  1. A written exam based on the course textbook
  2. An oral exam consisting of a complete full-sentence outline for your Informative-Instructional Speech and delivery of your 6-minute Informative-Instructional Speech.

Careful attention to the assignment descriptions and expectations and adequate preparation time for each part of the test-out will increase your chances for success.

Outline of the Process

  • Apply to register to participate in the test-out. You will then be added to a Blackboard site with further details about the Test-out written exam and oral exam.
  • Complete the written exam at the Testing Center during the semester prior to the semester that you intend any test-out credit earned to be applied. You must earn 80% or higher on the written exam to proceed to the oral exam.
  • Complete the oral exam, consisting of a written outline and delivery of a 6 minute speech, on the Thursday prior to the start of the semester that you intend any test-out credit earned to be applied. You must earn 80% or higher on the oral exam to earn credits for completing SP CM 212.

Registration for Test-Out

  • Please read through the full instructions carefully to be sure that you understand the process.
  • To register, fill out the Test-Out Application Form; scan and email the registration form to akh@iastate.edu  Reservations are limited to the first 24 students to apply for each semester.
  • Once you have submitted the registration form, you will be added to a Blackboard site for the test-out. Here you will find information about how to prepare for and where and when to complete the written exam and the oral exam.
  • The written exam must be completed in the Testing Center on campus during the semester prior to the test-out (i.e. if you are applying for test-out credits to apply in Fall, you must complete the written exam during the Summer semester; if you are applying for test-out credits to apply in Spring, you must complete the written exam during the Fall semester).
  • If you are among the first 24 students to apply, turning in the test-out application form gives you a “reservation” for taking the exam. Once you sign and turn in this form the Department of English will charge your U-Bill $100.00 for the test-out.


What happens if I do not earn Test-Out credit?

  • If you are already registered for the course or if you can find a spot in a lab section and add the course, you can take it in the semester that begins right after the test-out or during a later semester.
  • Another option is to re-take the Test-Out the next time it is offered, but the University Testing Office will charge you another $100.00 on your U-bill. You are limited to 2 attempts at passing the SpCm 212 Test-out.

How good are my chances of passing?

  • You can increase your chances of passing the written exam by obtaining a copy of A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking and paying special attention to the areas indicated for review.
  • You can increase your chances of passing the outline and speech assignments by carefully reviewing the information provided on Blackboard. Make sure you meet all the basic requirements for the assignment
  • The success rate for people who actually come to the test-out has fallen in recent semesters to about a 50% pass rate. About half of the of the students who failed to pass during the last 4 test-out sessions have failed to pass the written exam and the other half have not successfully earned the necessary B on the speech assignment. The people who do not pass the oral portion typically are not fully prepared or have ignored the assignment requirements–the speech is too long, too short, is plagiarized, fails to meet source or visual aid requirements, is read to the audience, is disorganized and hard to follow, or does not meet the definition of the assignment (the speech is persuasive, motivational or argumentative, or fails to meet the expectations of an instructional speech).
  • Remember that this is not simply a communication competency test, but a course test-out. By following the directions provided, you will help make sure that you are fulfilling the expectations of your evaluators.

Who can I contact if I have questions after reading this information?

  • You should contact the Director for the course at akh@iastate.edu with specific questions over your work or concerns about the process, as well as with general questions about the speech performance such as, “Where and when will I deliver my speech?” and “Will there be media connection for my laptop?”