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Intercultural Communication Center Preparing for the ITA Test

Video Introduction to the ITA Test
Who Needs to Take the ITA Test
ITA Testing for Master Students
Preparing for the ITA Test

> ITA Training 
> Commonly Asked Questions About Preparing for the ITA Test

Tips for Doing your Best on the ITA Test
Understanding the ITA Test Scoring Guide
ITA Test Registration


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5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3890
Office: (412) 268-4979

  ITA Training

ITA training at the ICC is highly individualized. Students receive a detailed evaluation of their language and communication skills after taking either the ITA test or attending the language support orientation.

  Commonly Asked Questions About Preparing for the ITA Test

Do I have to take a specific workshop before taking the ITA test?

No, you do not. There is no single workshop that is appropriate for all students because our program is a highly individualized program.

To have the best chance of passing the ITA Test, you need to develop the language skills in which you are weakest.

For example, one student may need to improve grammar, but has the fluency to explain her field, while another student lacks fluency, but has good pronunciation. These two students would need different programs of study to prepare for the test.

How do I know what workshops I should take?

When you first come to the ICC you will receive a detailed evaluation of your language and cultural proficiency after taking either the ITA Test or attending the language support orientation.

How long does it take to prepare for the ITA Test?

Some students can pass the ITA Test the first week that they are at Carnegie Mellon University. Other students need to work for several years to develop the fluency needed to communicate as a teacher. Many students who have been able to move to a higher category have attended 30+ hours of work each semester for several semesters.

Why do some students take the same workshop more than once?

Learning a language takes time and repeated practice. Students may need to attend a workshop or seminar more than once to improve a particular skill area.

I talk with my advisor everyday. Doesn't that mean I have enough English to pass the ITA Test?

Often students assume that if they can communicate with an advisor or other faculty member then they should have no difficulties communicating with students. However this thinking is flawed for two reasons. First, one-on-one conversation requires less language than does the extended talking required when interacting with students. In fact, one-on-one conversation with someone from your field can largely rely on the technical language of the field. Students, however, have different listening needs: students are hearing the material for the first time, are often unfamiliar with technical terms, need simple and clear explanations, and expect examples that clearly illustrate theoretical concepts.

What skills are rated on the ITA Test?

Candidates are rated on pronunciation, grammar usage, academic fluency, use of discourse language, listening and question handling, and overall comprehensibility. They are not assessed on knowledge of their field nor on teaching skills (although we give feedback on presentation skills and cultural knowledge to help candidates improve their communication skills).

Can students retake the ITA test?

Yes, but with some restrictions. Students who were not able to pass the ITA test will need to invest a significant amount of effort into developing the fluency needed to raise their score. The ITA test policy mandates that students cannot take the ITA test in two consecutive semesters unless they have done the recommended work indicated on their ITA test feedback form.