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English Proficiency for GTAs

Requirements for Graduate Teaching Assistants

Students whose native language is other than English must take a standardized test of English proficiency before admission to WVU. Using the tests that have a separate speaking component, the TOEFL iBT and the IELTS, a satisfactory speaking score can be used to indicate English speaking proficiency. Note that only official scores will be accepted for this purpose.

  • Minimum scores: The requirements vary based on whether the GTA will teach in English or another language. 
    • For GTAs who teach in English, a score of 22 on the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT or a score of 7.5 on the speaking section of the IELTS will satisfy the English-speaking proficiency requirement. 
    • For GTAs who teach in a language other than English, a score of 18 on the speaking section of the TOEFL iBT or a score of 6.0 on the speaking section of the IELTS will satisfy the English-speaking proficiency requirement.
  • Where to find scores: All test scores are noted in Banner. For verification, contact Melody Thomas at (or as a backup) in the Office of Admissions.
  • What to do next:
    • If the minimum test scores are met, nothing else needs to be done.
    • If the scores on the standardized tests do not meet the minimum threshold (and the student has not previously passed the SPEAK test), the potential GTA can sign up for a TrueNorth® speaking test through ELLI.
  • TrueNorth® test score minimums: The score needed is either 7.5 for GTAs who teach in English or 6.0 for GTAs who teach in a language other than English (such as foreign language classes). Register and pay for the TrueNorth® test.


Karen Allen, Coordinator
103 Eiesland Hall
P.O. Box 6297
Morgantown, WV 26506-6297

TrueNorth® Test Frequently Asked Questions

I have taken the TOEFL iBT or IELTS test. Do I have to take the TrueNorth® Test?

If you have taken one of these tests, you may already satisfy the English-speaking requirement for being a GTA if you meet the minimum scores (see above).

I have a bachelor’s degree from WVU. Do I have to take the TrueNorth® Test?

Yes. The criterion for taking the TrueNorth® Test is your native language. This applies to all individuals regardless of citizenship status or previous educational experience. Obviously, individuals with significant experience in an English-speaking environment may have excellent command of spoken English, and the TrueNorth® Test quickly confirms this in those cases.

How long does the test take?

The test takes approximately 20 minutes.

How do I register for the TrueNorth® test?

Students should register for the test and pay the test fee at the same time. Before registering, students should check with their department about whether or not the department will pay their test fee (currently $50). Register online here.

When and where is the TrueNorth® Test given?

The test is scheduled as needed after registration and payment is received. The test is done remotely using Zoom. You must have access to a laptop or desktop computer, good Wi-Fi and a quiet space to take the test. A phone or tablet will not work.

When and how will I get my score?

You will know your score immediately after the test is done. Departments will be notified within one week of the date of the completed exam and scores will be sent to be posted on Banner.

Can I retake the TrueNorth® Test if I do not achieve the score I need?

Yes, you can retake it one additional time. The TrueNorth® administrator is not allowed to give any specific feedback after a test.

Will I lose my teaching assistantship if I do not pass the TrueNorth® Test?

WVU cannot offer a teaching assistantship to anyone without a passing TrueNorth®, TOEFL iBT or IELTS score.

What do I need to bring to the TrueNorth® Test?

The only additional item you are allowed to have is a photo ID. A valid passport, WVU ID or driver’s license containing your full name and picture is required. You will also need consistent Wi-Fi, a laptop or desktop computer and a quiet workspace. A smartphone or tablet will not work for this test.

What function do the various tests of English play?

The tests we use at WVU test different skills and are used for different purposes. The TOEFL Test is an entrance requirement to the university and establishes that you have the English skills sufficient to understand the instruction you will receive as a student and participate in classroom activities. The TrueNorth® Test focuses on your ability to speak English. It is an administrative requirement for non-native English speakers who need to assume teaching duties and establishes that they have the English skills necessary to provide the instruction that WVU.

What can I do to prepare myself for the TrueNorth® Test?

The TrueNorth® Test produces a recorded speech sample of spoken English language that you will repeat. In addition, there are three short answer questions in which to reply within a given timed frame. You can find general information and request a sample of the test from the testing company. For many people, speaking into a microphone can be a stressful activity. It may help you to remember that you are really talking to a friendly and interested person who is listening to what you have to say. Imagine that you are talking to one of the individuals in your department who has been helpful to you, such as your adviser, another graduate student or the administrative assistant when you give your answers.

Why do only GTAs take the TrueNorth® Test?

Faculty members are subject to the same requirements of command of spoken English as are graduate teaching assistants. Because faculty members are recruited and hired in a process which includes interviews, colloquia, lectures, teaching demonstrations and other speaking in the presence of colleagues, administrative personnel and students, their spoken English is assessed in many ways before they are hired. Teaching assistants may be recruited solely on the basis of a paper record without any opportunity to evaluate their speaking proficiency. The TrueNorth® Test provides a common measure for all teaching assistants.