Becoming a certified interpreter is a 2-step process:

  • Pass the Test of English Proficiency
  • Pass the BEI Performance Test (Basic, Advanced or Master)

If you have never held a BEI certificate 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 may be eligible to begin at a higher level if you choose.

Test of English Proficiency

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.

There are no specific dates for administering the TEP. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission 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 in the state of Texas 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.

TEP Process

The TEP process consists of several stages. There is a 30 day processing period from the date the application is submitted until it has been approved by BEI staff. Upon BEI approval, applicants have a 90 day window to schedule the exam directly with the testing site designated on the application. Applicants should allow 1-2 weeks for the exam to arrive on site before scheduling. Written test results will be reported by email approximately 30 days after taking the TEP.

Prospective applicants should keep this in mind when considering future performance testing dates, and apply as early as needed. Applicants who receive a passing score on the TEP will be eligible to apply for the performance test. Applicants who do not receive a passing score must wait 6 months to retake the test and submit a new application and fee.

Payment

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:

Texas Health and Human Services Commission
DHHS
Mail Code 3027
P.O. BOX 12306
Austin, TX 78711
All checks must be made payable to HHSC DHHS. Please allow 30 days for processing.

Scheduling the Test

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. Please allow 1-2 weeks for your test to arrive on site. 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 electronically by email approximately 30 days after taking your exam. Please add dhhs.bei@hhsc.state.tx.us to your safe sender list. All BEI communications will be sent from this address.

About the TEP

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.

Take a sample TEP exam

Study Guides

Our greatest recommendation is to utilize the BEI Interpreter Certification Study Guide. Download a PDF version of the study guide. 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. If at any time you have questions regarding the TEP process, please contact the BEI staff at dhhs.bei@hhsc.state.tx.us.

BEI Performance Tests

Upon passing the Test of English Proficiency, you are eligible to take a BEI interpreter performance test. Each level of certification has its own interpreter performance test. After you pass one of these performance tests, you become certified at that level.

The Basic, Advanced and Master performance tests are criterion-referenced tests of the 3 interpretation modes most commonly used by interpreters in Texas. These are:

  • Expressive-rendering spoken English into ASL or signed English,
  • Receptive-rendering ASL or signed English into spoken English, and
  • Sight Translation-reading and rendering a written English document into ASL.

See the complete list of other certifications awarded by DHHS.

Performance Test Process

After your performance test application is received, please allow 30 days for processing. Once your application has been approved, you will receive an email confirmation offering you a performance testing appointment. Your performance on the Basic, Advanced, or Master performance test is scored in two ways: objectively and subjectively. This two-part assessment system provides a reliable, fair, and valid device for certification of interpreters. Your performance is evaluated by a team of BEI-approved raters. Your results will be reported to you within 90 days of your testing appointment.

Payment

Complete Form 3909 Interpreter Performance Test Application. Mail it, along with a check or money order to:

Texas Health and Human Services Commission
DHHS
Mail Code 3027
P.O. BOX 12306
Austin, TX 78711
All checks must be made payable to HHSC DHHS. Please allow 30 days for processing.

The list of applicable fees for each performance test can be found on page two of the Performance Test application.

Scheduling the Test

You will be asked to submit 2 different testing dates of your preference for the BEI Performance Test. See a complete list of Performance test dates and sites proctored by BEI staff.

The list of dates and sites changes frequently, as new testing dates are added. Please be advised that due to a high demand, testing requests with complete applications are scheduled on a first come, first serve basis. Testing dates often fill up quickly; BEI recommends that performance test applications be submitted at least 90 days in advance. If your preferred testing dates are already full, BEI will roll your application to the next available testing session.

Study Guides

For more information about test expectations, formats, sample scripts and scoring criterion, please see the BEI Study Guide.

This study guide also includes a list of resources you can use to prepare for the Performance Test, including books and websites that we have found helpful.

For more information regarding the SEE, OC:B, OC:C, OC:V, Intermediary III, or Intermediary V performance tests, contact the BEI staff at dhhs.bei@hhsc.state.tx.us.