COMS 100

COMS 100 Oral Communication Competency Exam (OCCE)

The Oral Communication Competency Exam administered by the Department of Communication will be offered on the following date

PART 1 DATES: updated 9/7/2016

  • Monday September 26 - The last day to apply is Friday September 23 by 2:00 pm
    This session will start at 3:00pm in Reavis Hall 205
    Please bring a #2 pencil and ID to the exam
  • Wednesday October 26 - The last day to apply is Tuesday October 25 by 2:00 pm. 
    The session will start at 3:00pm in Reavis Hall 205
    Please bring a #2 pencil and ID to the exam

Any student is eligible to take the Oral Communication Competency Exam prior to enrolling in COMS 100. The exam consists of two parts, and students must pass both parts to waive the core competency requirement. Part I assesses competence in listening. Part II assesses competence in speaking. Students must pass Part I to be eligible to take Part II. Depending on demand the exam is offered three times each semester.

Students who fail Part I, or pass Part I and fail Part II, will automatically fail the OCCE. Students failing the OCCE must enroll in a COMS 100 course in order to meet NIU graduation requirements. Students can take the OCCE only one time and cannot retake any portion of the exam. Students are not permitted to appeal the results of the exam.

Passing a competency examination fulfills the requirement for the core competency but gives no credit (i.e., it reduces the required number of hours in general education but does not reduce the number of hours required for a degree.)

In order to take the exam, the students must currently be enrolled at NIU.


In addition, students planning to take the OCCE exam are advised to take the exam AT LEAST one year before graduating from NIU. If students fail the OCCE, arrangements must be made to take a COMS 100 course in order to meet graduation requirements.

Students taking Part I of the OCCE are required to do the following:

  • Complete the attached sign-up sheet and return it to Watson Hall 209 by the deadline for the testing session.
  • Bring an NIU student photo ID or an acceptable substitute to Part I. Students without an appropriate form of photo ID will not be permitted to take Part I.
  • Bring a #2 pencil for taking of the exam.
  • Arrive 15 minutes early for Part I in order to sign in and complete necessary forms.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Students who do not show up to take Part I on the date identified on the sign-up sheet must REAPPLY to take the exam on another date.
  • PLEASE NOTE: Students who arrive late to take Part I (after the exam has started), will *NOT* be allowed to take the exam at that time and will need to REAPPLY to take the exam on another date.
Additional Information Regarding Eligibility

Although any student is welcome to take the exam, students who meet one of the following criteria should be encouraged by their academic advisors to take the exam: 1) students with a 24 or higher on the English part of the ACT; 2) students who have excelled (e.g., grade of A in a rigorous high school speech class) (e.g., a full semester course that included numerous graded speaking assignments, an "honors" course, etc.); 3) students who have excelled in high school forensics (e.g., debaters or oratory champions); 4) transfer students who have successfully completed communication courses that did not transfer to NIU as equivalent to COMS 100.

Additional Information Regarding the Exam

Part I is a test containing 20 multiple-choice questions that will be based on a speech.  The exam will take approximately 40 minutes to complete.  The exam will consist of a set of verbal instructions, watching a speech, and then answering a series of questions on a test sheet.

For Part II, students must prepare and present a 6-8 minute
extemporaneous persuasive speech.  Students are provided a copy of the
rating form used to assess the speech along with a list of topic areas
and audiences from which to choose prior to presenting the speech. 
Students are rated by a panel of COMS 100 faculty.  Following the
speech, each student is asked a series of brief questions about the
speech.  The student's oral answers to those questions are also rated. 
Excluding approximately a week of preparation time that the student may
use as he or she sees fit, Part II takes 10 minutes to complete. 
Students should not prepare PowerPoint or similar presentations to
accompany their speeches.


OMS 100 Oral Communication Competency Exam (OCCE)