Speech Communication 2120 Test-Out

Contact Information

Deanna Stumbo
Department of English

You May Not Register If You

  • have previously taken or been enrolled in a SP CM 212 class.
  • have previously taken the Iowa State University SP CM 212 test-out. University policy states that students may attempt a test-out for a course only once.
  • are not officially enrolled at Iowa State University during the semester the SPCM 2120 test-out is being offered.

Overview & Eligibility

Successful completion of the test-out provides an alternate method for meeting the SPCM 2120 requirement. It is offered twice each year, prior to the start of fall and spring semesters. We recommend that test takers have experience with

  • speaking in front of audiences
  • composing well-organized speeches
  • adapting writing to specific purposes and audiences


  • The test-out is intended to give credit to those with experience in public speaking rather than 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.
  • Completing the test-out process does not guarantee that you will pass. Only students who have college-level proficiency in the fundamentals of public speaking can successfully meet the requirements for the test-out.
  • 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 2120 fill up very quickly, so it is wise to register for SPCM 2120 to guarantee a spot in case test-out credit is not earned.
  • Credit is applied at the end of the semester for which SPCM 2120 test-out credit is earned.

The Test

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. This exam requires access to a computer, the internet, and Canvas. You should find a quiet place to work for the one-hour test. You will log in to Canvas with your Iowa State Net-ID and password. You must submit the exam before the end of the one-hour time frame.
  2. An oral exam consisting of a complete full-sentence outline for your Informative Speech and delivery of your 5-7 minute Informative Speech in front of an audience of approximately 20 individuals. (NOTE: This exam MUST be taken on campus on the designated date. We cannot accommodate alternative requests for dates/locations.)

Test Dates & Evaluation

The written exam must be completed during the semester prior to the one that you intend to have the test-out credit applied. Students who pass the written exam by earning 80% or higher will take the oral exam on the Friday prior to the start of the semester that they intend any test-out credit earned to be applied. Alternate dates cannot be offered, so students must plan ahead.

The next available semester for test-out is Fall 2024; details on this semester’s process are available here:

  1. The Fall 2024 written exam must be taken online between March 1 and June 28, 2024. You must earn 80% or higher on the written exam to proceed to the oral exam.
  2. The Fall 2024 oral exam will be held in Ross Hall on Friday, August 23, 2024. You must earn 80% or higher on the oral exam to earn credit for completing SPCM 2120.

Registration Process & Deadlines

  • The Fall 2024 test-out exam registration deadline is noon on Friday, May 3, 2024. You can register by completing the SPCM 2120 Test-Out Registration Form – Fall 2024.
  • Once you register and your application has been reviewed, you will receive an email confirmation. You will also be added to a Canvas site with further details about the test-out written exam and oral exam. Reservations are limited to the first 24 students to apply for each semester.
  • A $100 nonrefundable fee will be placed on your university bill after you have taken the written portion of the exam.


What happens if I do not earn test-out credit?

  • If you are already registered for the course or can find an open spot in a section and add the course, you can take it in the semester that begins right after the test-out or during a later semester. NOTE: We highly recommend enrolling in a section of SPCM 2120 in advance in case you do not pass the test-out exam.

How good are my chances of passing?

  • You can increase your chances of passing the written exam by obtaining a copy of Speech Craft, 2 edition by Joshua Gunn, and paying special attention to the key terms identified in each chapter. After registering for the test-out exam, instructions will be provided on how to acquire a free trial copy of the electronic textbook.
  • You can increase your chances of passing the oral exam by carefully reviewing the information provided on Canvas. Make sure you meet all the basic requirements for the assignment.
  • 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.