Test of English Proficiency
Becoming a certified interpreter is a two-step process. First, you must take the Test of English Proficiency (TEP). Once you have passed, you must take the BEI Performance Test (levels Basic, Advanced, or Master). If you have never been certified before, you must start at the Basic Level. If you have been previously certified with another organization, we ask that you present your current certification card along with your performance test application. At that time, you are eligible to begin at a higher level if you choose.
All new applicants for BEI Certification, or all certified interpreters wishing to become certified at the Basic, Advanced, or Master level for the first time, must pass the Test of English Proficiency (TEP) before being eligible to apply for any BEI performance test. The written Test of English Proficiency (TEP) for sign language interpreters is available year round upon request. Download the TEP application (accessible)/(.pdf)
There are no specific dates for administering the TEP. DARS-DHHS has contracted with the University of Texas at Austin, K-16 Distance Education Center, to coordinate and administer the TEP testing process. This test may be taken at various colleges and universities at your convenience. Most of the colleges and universities will require a proctoring fee which will range from $10-$30; this is in addition to the TEP application fee. Applicants should be prepared to pay this fee to the proctor when reporting to take the TEP.
For your convenience the BEI staff has compiled a list of sites that have been approved to administer the TEP. Please review our approved list of sites and write your preferred testing site on page two of your application.
Once you sign and complete your TEP application, you must mail it along with a check or money order in the amount of $95 to DARS DHHS, PO BOX 12306, Austin, TX 78711. All checks must be made payable to DARS DHHS. Please allow 30 days for processing.
Once your TEP application has been approved, you will be notified with an email confirmation. Your exam will be sent to your preferred testing center and will be available to you for 90 days. After receiving your email confirmation, you must contact the testing center for business hours and appointment scheduling. Failure to complete your exam within 90 days will result in a forfeiture of fees. Upon completion of your exam, it is mailed to the BEI headquarters for scoring and result reporting. You will receive your results via regular mail approximately 30 days after taking your exam.
The TEP Exam consists of 80 multiple choice questions and must be taken with a pencil. Applicants are required to answer at least 55 of the 80 questions correctly to pass. This is a raw score and not a percentage score. Answering fewer than 55 questions correctly will result in failing the test.
The TEP process takes approximately 45-60 days to complete; this is from the date an application is submitted until the date when the written test results are reported. Prospective applicants should keep this in mind when considering future performance testing dates, and apply as early as needed. If you pass the TEP, you will be eligible to apply for the performance test. If you fail the TEP, you will be eligible to retake the TEP 6 months from the day the exam was administered to you.
Our greatest recommendation is to utilize the BEI Interpreter Certification Study Guide. Download a PDF version of the study guide .
For a paper copy, please contact the BEI office at BEI@dars.state.tx.us. This study guide also includes a list of resources you can use to prepare for the TEP, including books and websites that we have found helpful.
If you have a disability or circumstance that requires a reasonable accommodation for testing, please see Chapter 1.4 of BEI Interpreter Certification Policies and Procedures for Accommodation Requests. If at any time you have questions regarding the TEP process, please contact the BEI staff at firstname.lastname@example.org