Verification of English Skills Test for International Teaching Assistants
Welcome! This site is here to help you understand the Verification of English Skills Test (VEST) given by English Language Programs to teaching assistants who use English as their second language, also called International Teaching Assistants (ITAs).
Who needs to take the test?
All new graduate students who have been offered student facing assistantships (does not include research assistants or graders unless you plan to teach the following semester, in which case it is required) are required to take the test if their TOEFL speaking score was below 26, their IELTS speaking score was below 8.0, their PTE below 74, and their overall Duolingo score less than 115.
Students from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and the United Kingdom whose first language is English
o Student who has completed one or more semesters of graduate work at CU or another U.S. institution of higher education.
o Student who has received a bachelor's or master's degree from a U.S. institution of higher education OR having been educated in a school where English was the official language.
o Student who is arriving from a country where English is one of the official languages.
Why do you need to take this test?
Clemson University is dedicated to the success of their students in all areas of their academic career. By testing ITAs, departments can place assistants in teaching contexts where they, and their students, can be most successful. The state of South Carolina also mandates through law that teachers who use English as a second language be assessed for linguistic proficiency.
When is the test and how it administered?
VEST is administered online in the summer or winter break before arrival to campus, as well as on-campus testing when needed. Each ITA is contacted and given an option of test times and dates, as well as video conferencing platform options.
What IS the test?
The test consists of two sections: An Interview and a Teaching Sample. The interview is a variety of questions from intermediate level to advanced. The teaching sample is the student defining a term in their field in a short presentation to take no longer than 10 minutes or less. Together the test is about 40 minutes.
How is the test scored and who scores the test?
Students are rated holistically and not numerically on their comprehensibility in terms of extended speech, pronunciation, comprehension, vocabulary and grammar. Trained raters from English Language Programs and the Emeritus College rate students using inter-rater reliability.
Pass= Eligible for all TA duties and instructor of record assignments.
Limited 1= Eligible for all TA duties except instructor of record. Support recommended.
Limited 2= Eligible to serve as lab assistant, grader and basic office hours with students. 10 hours of support required prior to retesting
Fail= Not eligible for TA duties. 12-15 hours of support required prior to retesting