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English Language Programs

Verification of English Skills Test (VEST)

Welcome! We are here to help you understand the Verification of English Skills Test (VEST) given by English Language Programs to teaching assistants who use English as an additional language, also called International Teaching Assistants (ITAs).

Who needs to take the test?

All new international 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 130.


  • 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.

  • 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 is 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.

  • How do you sign up?

    There is no need to sign up for the VEST. You will be contacted via your Clemson email address from your department and/or the director of English Language Programs. Once in contact, you will be given access to preparation materials.

  • Still have questions?

    Contact Jen Brondell at

How is the test scored and who scores the test?

Students are rated holistically on their comprehensibility in terms of fluency, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, listening comprehension, development and communication of ideas and teacher expression, Trained raters from English Language Programs and the Emeritus College rate students using inter-rater reliability.

10 = Eligible for all TA duties and instructor of record assignments.

9 = Eligible for all TA duties except instructor of record. No support required.

8 = Eligible for all TA duties. Required to have a conversation partner while TAing the first semester.

7 = Eligible for all TA duties. Required to take IS 1110 and IS 1111 while teaching the first semester.

6 = Not eligible to TA but may hold office hours or grade. Required to take IS 1110 and IS 1111.

English Language Programs
English Language Programs | Jennifer Brondell, Director