Testing and Certification Eligibility and Preparation
- be at least 18 years old;
- have earned a high school diploma or equivalent;
- not have a criminal conviction that could be grounds for denial, suspension, revocation or other disciplinary action;
- have earned an associate degree or a minimum of 60 credit hours from an accredited college or university, with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher; and
- pass the requisite examination for the certification level sought, which may include the Test of English Proficiency (TEP).
What should I send with my application for testing?
Submit the following items digitally:
- Your non-refundable fee using our online payment portal in the BEI Registry.
- A copy of your valid photo ID (uploaded to your application in the BEI Registry).
- An official college transcript to be emailed from your college or university directly to BEI.
View our training video for guidance on how to submit items in the BEI Registry.
If you can’t submit online, you can mail the following items to HHSC BEI, P.O. Box 12306, Austin, TX 78711:
- Your non-refundable fee in the form of a money order, cashier’s check or personal check.
- A copy of your valid photo ID.
- Official sealed college transcript.
Please note that personal checks take longer to process due to accounting and verification procedures. Using a money order or cashier’s check will avoid this additional delay. All fees paid to HHSC in relation to the BEI certification program are non-refundable.
I have a criminal conviction. Am I automatically ineligible to apply for testing?
Each case is reviewed on an individual basis. Please read the BEI policies regarding criminal conviction records.
What are the testing fees?
All fees paid to HHSC in relation to the BEI certification program are non-refundable. See the Fee Schedule in the Texas Administrative Code.
Where can I get a testing application or request an online test?
Where are testing dates and sites posted?
What study materials do you suggest using to prepare for the interpreter certification tests?
The BEI Study Guide contains a TEP sample test that will assist you in understanding the format of the examination. We recommend vocabulary building exercises and SAT/GRE prep courses and books. A few suggestions are:
After I take a BEI test, when can I expect the results?
Written test results (e.g. TEP, TSP and Court Written test) are emailed about 30 days after the test date.
Performance test results are emailed about 90 days after the test date.
If I fail a test, how long must I wait before I can retest?
If you fail a test, you must wait six months before taking the test again.
Do you need a college degree to pass the TEP? Could an average high school student pass the TEP?
We do recommend intensive language study and practice to pass the TEP (see Candidate Study Guide [PDF]). We have found that individuals with and without a university degree can pass interpreter certification exams.
Which theory did the University of Arizona, National Center on Interpretation, Testing, Research and Policy (UA NCITRP), and HHSC use to create the BEI TEP?
The overall approach followed by the UA NCITRP and HHSC to develop and administer valid and reliable testing instruments is thoroughly outlined in the following references:
- American Educational Research Association. (1999). Standards for educational and psychological testing. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
- Bachman, L., and Palmer, A. (1996). Language testing in practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Additional information specific to the validity and reliability of the TEP can be found in the following online sources:
What is the grade level of the TEP, and what is the purpose of having it at that level of literacy?
The grade level of the TEP is from the 11th to 12th grade. An extensive analysis of the job and language tasks performed by American Sign Language and English interpreters documented that competent interpreters require a minimum English proficiency at the 11th to 12th grade level. Candidates who pass the TEP are then eligible for the more rigorous performance tests that assess their ability to competently interpret in settings representative of authentic job and language tasks.
Is there a reason for having to complete the TEP in 75 minutes?
Speediness is a typical component of language proficiency tests and especially certification tests because it adds an element of difficulty reflective of language use in the real world. The TEP time limit was established through pilot testing and reflects how long it takes even low-scoring candidates to complete the TEP.
I failed the TEP by one point. Why aren't allowances given to address close scores like this?
Typically, the passing score for a high-stakes examination like the TEP is set between 75% and 80%, or a score of 60-64. However, to be fair to candidates and ensure that more candidates were eligible to take the performance test, the passing score for the TEP was set at 69%, or 55 points, which is 5 points below the 75% cut off of 60 points.
This accommodation is referred to as a "passing band" of 55-60, and there is a high degree of confidence that a candidate who fails by one point (54) has not demonstrated the minimum requirements needed to be an interpreter. Candidates who are this close to passing are encouraged to analyze their subsection scores and engage in an intensive study of grammar, vocabulary building and testing strategies using the references found in the BEI Study Guide for Interpreter Certification Candidates.
What are the certificate equivalences for BEI Levels I-V to the current system?
The BEI Levels I-V and the current BEI system are different. There are no certificate equivalencies. One must meet eligibility requirements and pass required tests to be awarded a certificate from the new testing system.
Does the Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHHS) recognize certifications issued by other states or certifying organizations?
DHHS only recognizes a BEI certificate that is awarded based on taking a BEI test by states that are licensed users of the BEI system. Anyone with such a certificate must first comply with all eligibility requirements established by DHHS.
Am I exempt from taking the BEI TEP if I’ve passed other English proficiency exams, including the RID and NIC written tests?
No. All BEI testing candidates must take and pass the requisite exam or exams, including the TEP.
Maintaining a BEI Certification
I am certified. What is required to maintain active certification?
As a certified interpreter, you are expected to adhere to the Professional Code of Conduct and applicable HHSC rules that govern interpreters at all times. You are also required to pay an annual renewal fee. Every five years you are required to recertify by submitting a specific number of continuing education units (CEUs) and paying a recertification fee.
How will I know when to renew or recertify?
A courtesy email reminder will be sent to you 60 days before your renewal or recertification expires. Be sure to keep your email and mailing addresses current, and add firstname.lastname@example.org to your safe sender list to ensure you receive all BEI reminders and correspondence.
What if I don't receive a reminder?
You can always reference your BEI certificate card. The lower, left-hand corner clearly displays the date by which you must renew or recertify. Don’t hesitate to seek assistance by emailing BEI staff.
May I pay online?
Yes. BEI Registry users can process a payment online via the Registry portal. For a general overview of how to access this feature, please review our short BEI Registry Training video.
If you choose to mail your payment, be sure to mail it in time to reach HHSC BEI before your expiration date. All fees paid to HHSC in relation to the BEI certification program are non-refundable.