In alignment with Graduate School recommendations, English Language Programs offers Instructional Readiness Assessments (IRAs). These examinations are designed for each department or program, based on input from department administrators and faculty. Each department has an established plan of assessment with English Language Programs, and students and faculty may request a copy of their department/program plan from our Program Manager, Katie Blackburn Brown.

Assessment Formats

These assessments most often take the form of simulated teaching. Students may lecture, offer feedback on a written test or assignment, lead a discussion section, walk through a complex problem or case, or complete a lab demonstration, depending upon their program’s typical Mentored Teaching Experiences and students’ likely future instructional roles.

Assessments are designed to evaluate students’ dynamic language skills for instructional roles. Below, two examples of typical assessments are detailed more completely:

Mini Lecture

Students completing this format will give a ten minute lecture-type lesson. This lecture should be appropriate for an introductory class in the field, and it may be interactive, depending upon the typical practice for the field. Following the initial lecture, students will be asked to answer questions about their lecture. These questions will be designed to mirror questions that an undergraduate taking the course might ask. This exam should take about twenty minutes. After completing the lecture and the question and answer portions, the graduate student will be evaluated on their ability to explain ideas, respond to questions, and the features of their language use (e.g., grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, etc.) and delivery (e.g., rate of speech, volume, etc.).

This version is more common for instructors who will lead their own lessons or sections of courses.

Office Hours

Students completing this format will role-play a student visiting during their office hours. The graduate student will be asked questions about classroom policies, course concepts, and test formats, answering their questions to the best of their ability. This interaction will be observed by the department member. The English Language Programs staff member will play the role of an undergraduate student asking these questions. After conversing for about twenty minutes, the graduate student being tested will be evaluated on their ability to respond to questions, explain ideas, and features of their language use (e.g., grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, etc.) and delivery (e.g., rate of speech, volume, etc.).

This version of the test is typically completed with international students who will be teaching their main courses in their native language (e.g., a French student teaching for Romance Languages and Literatures).

Timing the Assessment

IRAs can be scheduled at any time throughout the year. However, these assessments should be sequenced such that students should be assessed at least one semester prior to their teaching duties. Many departments assess their students in April and October in order to have detailed, updated information about their English language capacities while making MTE assignment determinations for the upcoming semester.

Departments should coordinate their date of assessment with our Program Manager, Katie Blackburn Brown.

How Students Should Prepare

Depending upon the format of the test, the graduate student may need to prepare a lecture, review a problem set, or plan a demonstration. Students should complete these steps in accordance with their department guidelines.

For English language comfort and confidence during the test, the best way to prepare is to read, write, hear, and speak English on a regular basis before your test. No commercially prepared materials are available to prepare for these exams. To access more resources to develop English, students are also welcome to use our Individual Supports and visit our Resources blog.

Interpreting Scores

Instructional Readiness Assessments will be scored on a scale of 1.0 – 4.0, with high scores indicating “Exempt” from all recommendations and requirements and lower scores indicating that some English language support is strongly recommended and may be required by the department concurrently or prior to teaching. Supports offered or required may include courses in presentation, pronunciation, or instructional language. These score reports are individualized, and specific recommendations are made based on a student performance on a given assessment.