Most new international TAs participate in language testing during the international portion of the TA Orientation Program.

ITAs take the Versant English Test, a 20-minute standardized exam conducted by phone. They also interview with a Graduate School staff member, an ESOL instructor, a faculty member from their department, and an undergraduate student. A second interview, with graduate student teaching mentors, includes a language exercise, such as reading aloud a short paragraph, and is video recorded. The Versant test, the interviews, and the recording result in a holistic rating using a four-point scale of English language proficiency developed by the Graduate School and the ESOL Program. This rating is used to determine placement, if any, within the Graduate School’s sequence of English courses for ITAs. The progress of ITAs in these courses is continually monitored, and each student reassessed on the four-point scale at the end of the course.

ITAs who do not participate in language assessment during the TA Orientation (e.g., due to visa delays) must take the Versant test and participate in an oral interview upon arrival at the University. Contact Glenn Wright (315.443.3458 or glwright@syr.edu) in the Graduate School to schedule an assessment.

NOTE: In addition to ITA language assessment through the Graduate School, all international graduate students with TOEFL scores lower than 600 (or 100 on the TOEFL iBT) are required to take the English Language Assessment Exam (ELAE) administered by the ESOL Program. The ELAE may result in a recommendation for additional English coursework, but does not serve as a substitute for the Graduate School’s language assessment process for ITAs.