Contact the Board for Evaluation of Interpreter (BEI) staff with questions regarding application and testing processes, annual certificate renewal, or 5-year recertification procedures. Staff can be reached at dhhs.bei@hhsc.state.tx.us.

Testing and Certification Eligibility and Preparation

What are the eligibility requirements to become a Texas BEI certified interpreter?

You must

  • be at least 18 years old; and
  • not have a criminal conviction that could be grounds for denial, suspension, revocation, or other disciplinary action; and
  • possess at least an associate degree from an accredited college or university; and
  • pass the requisite examination for the certification level sought, which may be
  • the Test of English Proficiency (TEP), or
  • a performance test.

What must accompany my application for testing?

  • Your fee in the form of a money order, cashier’s check or personal check
  • A copy of your photo Id
  • Official college transcript

Mail all 3 items to HHSC BEI, P.O. Box 12306, Austin, TX 78711.

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 Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) certification program are non-refundable. See the Fee Schedule in the Texas Administrative Code.

Where may I obtain a testing application or request a test online?

You can get those items at one of the locations below?

Where are testing dates and sites posted?

What study materials do you suggest using to prepare for the interpreter certification tests?

Study Guide for BEI General Tests (PDF)

The BEI Study Guide contains a TEP sample test, which 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 (TEP, TSP, Court Written test) are sent via email or regular mail approximately 30 days after the test was taken. 
Performance test results are sent via email or regular mail approximately 90 days after the test was taken.

If I fail a test, how long must I wait before I can retest?

You must wait 6 months between test dates.

Do you recommend that the test-taker have some kind of college degree in order to pass the TEP?  Or is “an average high school kid” expected to pass the TEP?

We do recommend intensive language study and practice to pass the TEP (see Candidate Study Guide). However, UA NCITRP know of no correlation between educational attainment and interpreting ability. We have found that individuals with and without a university degree can pass interpreter certification examinations if the possess the required language and interpreting proficiency.

Test Validity

Which theory did the University of Arizona, National Center on Interpretation, Testing, Research and Policy (UA NCITRP), and HHSC use to create the BEI Test of English Proficiency (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 ASL/English interpreters documented that competent interpreter 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, which assess their ability to competently interpret in settings representative of authentic job and language tasks.

Is there a reason for completing the TEP in 75 minutes?

"Speededness" 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 such as this?

Typically, the passing score for a high-stakes examination, such as the TEP, is set between 75 and 80 percent (score of 60-64 for the TEP). 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 percent, or 55 points, which is 5 points below the 75 percent 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 requisite minimum proficiency to pass the exam. Candidates who are this close to passing are encouraged to analyze their subsection scores and engage in 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 the previous BEI testing system to the new testing system?

The previous BEI testing system and the new BEI testing 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 DHHS have reciprocity for 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. Holders of those certificates seeking reciprocity in Texas must first comply with all established eligibility requirements.

I have taken and passed other English Proficiency exams, including the RID and NIC written tests. Am I exempt from taking the BEI TEP?

No. All BEI testing candidates must take and pass the requisite exams, which includes the Test of English Proficiency (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 CEUs and paying a recertification fee.

How will I know when to renew or recertify?

An email reminder will be sent to you 60 days before your renewal or recertification expiration date. It is important to keep your email and mailing addresses current.

What if I don't receive a reminder?

You can always reference your BEI certificate card. It clearly displays the date when you must renew or recertify and proceed accordingly to mail payment. Also, do not hesitate to seek assistance from BEI staff at dhhs.bei@hhsc.state.tx.us.

May I pay online?

No. The new BEI Registry does not have online payment functionality. You must be sure to mail your fee in time to reach HHSC BEI before your expiration date.