The Test of Oral Englilsh Proficiency (TOEP)

1. Is the English Language Proficiency Requirement for TAs and AIs the same as the First-Year English Requirement?


graphems.pngNO.  While the first-year English course requirement involves multiple language skills, the TA/AI English proficiency requirement concerns only oral English proficiency. The Office of Graduate Studies requires all graduate students, except those with an undergraduate degree from an institution where English is the sole language of instruction, to demonstrate oral English proficiency before they are appointed to Teaching Assistant (TA) or Associate Instructor (AI) positions. 


2.  What is the TOEP?

The TOEP is the Test of Oral English Proficiency.  According to the IAE website, “The TOEP is used to test the oral English ability of non-native English speaking graduate students in order to determine their eligibility for working as teaching assistants (TAs) or Associate Instructors (AIs). Teaching and communicating effectively with students requires exceptional oral English skills, and the TOEP assesses these skills in a 20-minute classroom simulation.” 

For more information about the TOEP, visit

3. When should I take the TOEP?

Any students who are not yet eligible to work as a TA/AI can take the TOEP as soon as possible to determine their eligibility. Your score will help you determine what your next steps are.

Students must register for the TOEP at least one week prior to the exam date. Registration closes seven days before each exam date.

  • The TOEP is offered at the end of each quarter. It is recommended that students take the TOEP as early as possible and not wait until the quarter before they want to work as a TA.
  • TOEP Registration is first come, first served. Students who register early will have the best opportunity to find a time that works the best for their schedules. 
  • TOEP scores are made available to all test takers and their departments about a week after the test date.

4. If I plan to take the TOEP, and I have satisfied my first-year requirement, do I have to take UWP 391?

NO. Students may take the TOEP without 391, but this class is designed to help prepare them for the TOEP. If they do not take UWP 391 before taking the TOEP and they receive a “conditional pass,” they will then be required to enroll in approved English language instruction, which can be satisfied with either UWP 391 or a combination of workshops, seminars, and/or language and culture coaching offered by International & Academic English.

5. How is the TOEP scored?

Test takers are assessed in the following six categories: 

Phonetic & Phonological Competence           Grammatical Competence 

Fluency/Speech Flow                                     Lexical Competence

Rhetorical Organization                                  Question Handling

TOEP Results 

Students receive their results by email and have the option to meet with staff from IAE for feedback and to discuss next steps. There are three possible results:

  • Pass: Students who earn a pass are eligible to hold a TA or AI position. They DO NOT need to take UWP 391 or any other course.
  • Conditional Pass: Students who earn a conditional pass may hold a TA or AI position for up to two quarters while concurrently enrolled in approved English language instruction. The two quarters they are permitted to serve as a TA or AI are only allowed once, after the first conditional pass is received. For example, if a student receives a conditional pass then work as a TA for two quarters, if they then retake the TOEP and receive another conditional pass, they will not be eligible to continue working as a TA until they receive a pass on the TOEP
  • Fail: Students who earn a failing score have not met the English language requirements for a TA or AI position. They are encouraged to take graduate-level ESL courses and/or participate in support programs provided by IAE.

6.  When is the TOEP offered? How do I see my scores?
The TOEP is offered on multiple dates at the end of each quarter and in the weeks prior to fall quarter. It is recommended that students take the TOEP as early as possible and not wait until the quarter before they want to work as a TA. The above information is from the TOEP Overview PDF.  For access to this document and other resources, including an informational video series, go to: