INTERNATIONAL TEACHING ASSISTANT EXAM
What is the ITA Exam?
One element of the ITA Program is the assessment of some ITAs’ language skills as dictated by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education policy (see Policy and Procedure Manual: Chapter 3: Academic Affairs, section 3.23) and Oklahoma State Law (Oklahoma Statute 70 O.S. §3224 and §3225 (2001)). See below for details on who has to take the ITA Exam.
The goal of the ITA Exam is to assess whether an ITA has the required English language proficiency to perform instructional duties in the classroom, lab, or other setting where they may serve as a graduate assistant interacting with undergraduate students.
The International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Exam is a five-minute timed teaching presentation given to an audience of exam raters and other students who are taking the exam. This presentation is followed by a three- to five-minute question and answer period.
Please note that ITAs who have not taken or have not passed the ITA Exam can still serve in non-instructional capacities such as grading (without holding office hours), preparing labs, shadowing courses they may teach in the future, and more.
Who is required to take the ITA Exam?
The ITA Exam is required for prospective graduate teaching assistants who meet both of the following criteria:
- Did NOT complete their primary education (i.e., graduated from high school) from the
- Canada (except for Quebec)
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- United States of America
- Received a score of 25 or below on the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT, or a score of 8.0 or below on the speaking portion of the IELTS. Students who submitted PTE Academic scores must take the ITA Exam to be eligible to serve as a GTA.
- Did NOT complete their primary education (i.e., graduated from high school) from the following countries:
What happens during the ITA Exam?
During the ITA exam, you will teach a five-minute academic lesson in a chosen field of study. The lesson should be a key point from the course (or type of course) you may be teaching in your field of study, typically introductory or survey courses. If you aren’t sure what to present, consider reaching out to your employing department/program about the kinds of things you may be teaching in your role as a TA.
After the presentation is finished, there is a three- to five-minute period for questions from the audience. Questions from the audience are the typical kinds of questions that undergraduate students might ask. Questions may come from language specialist raters, undergraduate raters, other presenters, or a representative from your department or program.
If you are in mid-sentence when the timer ends, you may finish your sentence, but will not be allowed to continue beyond just a few seconds after the timer rings. There is no penalty for going overtime.
How is the ITA exam rated?
The raters consist of trained language specialists (faculty and graduate students in TESOL and Linguistics) as well as several undergraduate student raters.
The exam assesses three elements of your language proficiency:
- Linguistic competence – Your ability to be understood on the basis of your pronunciation, grammar, and fluency.
- Interactional competence – Your ability to understand and respond to questions from the audience.
- Strategic competence - Your ability to compensate for any linguistic weaknesses with visual aids, such as PowerPoint or use of the chalk board.
Please note that you are NOT rated on content knowledge in this test.
Example blank rating sheets can be found here:
What happens after the ITA Exam?
You (test-takers) will receive the results of your exam at your OSU email within 24 hours.
There are three possible outcomes of the ITA Exam depending on your score:
You can engage in instructional activities immediately.
You can engage in instructional activities, but must be enrolled in GRAD 5092 concurrently. After completing GRAD 5092 with a grade of B or higher and passing the ITA Exam with a score of 250 or higher, you can continue in instructional activities.
You cannot engage in instructional activities and must enroll in GRAD 5082 and receive a grade of “B” or higher to qualify to retake the ITA test.
For more details about each of these courses, please visit the ITA course offerings page.
When is the ITA Exam offered?
The ITA Exam is typically administered three times per academic year: once the Tuesday before the Fall semester (early August), once the Tuesday before the Spring semester (early January), and once the Tuesday after Finals in the Spring semester (early May). The ITA Exam is offered only on this day in August, January, and May, and is offered only in-person.
How do I register for the ITA Exam?
Registration for the ITA Exam is open until the Thursday before the exam.
The cost to take the ITA Exam is $75. This will be billed to your bursar account.
The next upcoming ITA exam will be January 10, 2023.
How can I prepare for the ITA Exam?
GRAD 5082: Oral Proficiency and GRAD 5092: Language in the American Classroom (each 2 credit hours) are available for voluntary enrollment to all graduate students and will allow you to develop and improve skills in oral proficiency, the language of academic presentations, and the various linguistic situations you may encounter in the American classroom (e.g. giving instructions, solving communication breakdowns, holding office hours, etc.).
To start preparing for the ITA Exam, take a look at the following example presentation and review the rating sheet that will be used by the language specialist and undergraduate raters:
- Example presentation
- Notes on passing presentation
- Language specialist rater sheet for passing presentation
- Undergraduate rater sheet for passing presentation
You can also follow these general tips when preparing your presentation:
- Begin your presentation by stating your name, department and what the topic of your presentation is.
- Speak slowly enough to allow undergraduate students to take notes on your presentation.
- While a PowerPoint is not necessary, it is highly recommended.
- Use compensatory strategies: Include key words in your PowerPoint and present the slides before you say the key words. This helps support your spoken English, especially for more challenging and/or technical words.
- Avoid making your PowerPoint too text-heavy. Include only key words and key concepts/images.
- Conclude your presentation by telling the audience what you talked about. For example, “To summarize…” “Today we talked about how environmental factors effect…”
- Include slide numbers on your presentation so that raters can easily refer to specific slides.
- Rehearse your presentation several times and set a timer for 5 minutes. Even though you won’t be penalized for going over the allotted time, a well-timed, well-rehearsed presentation will help you with the pacing of your speech.
- Think about possible questions that undergraduate students might ask about your presentation.
- “What is a real-life application of this concept?”
- “Can you explain slide 5 again?”
Who can I contact with questions about the ITA Exam?
If you have any questions about the exam, please contact the ITA Program Coordinator, Ho’omana Nathan Horton, at firstname.lastname@example.org.