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 are 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 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 takes approximately 45-60 days to complete; this is from the date an application is submitted until the date when the written test results are reported.
Prospective applicants should keep this in mind when considering future performance testing dates, and apply as early as needed. If you pass the TEP, you will be eligible to apply for the performance test. If you fail the TEP, you will be eligible to retake the TEP 6 months from the day the exam was administered to you.

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. 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 via regular mail approximately 30 days after taking your exam.

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 DARS3909 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 testing dates can reach maximum capacity quickly, so candidates should submit performance test applications approximately 90 days in advance.

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.