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.
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
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
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.
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.