Center for Educational Innovation

Academic Affairs and Provost

The Spoken English Test for Teaching Assistants

What is the SETTA?

The Spoken English Test for Teaching Assistants (SETTA) is one of three assessments used by University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, to determine eligibility for a teaching assistantship for students who are not native speakers of English.

The SETTA measures spoken English pronunciation, fluency, grammar, and vocabulary, as well as listening comprehension. A passing score indicates highly accurate and comprehensible spoken English. Because a wide variety of Englishes are spoken around the world, you are not expected to speak with a North American accent or to produce completely error-free English in order to pass the SETTA.

How often can I take the SETTA?

Once every 12 months. However, if you have previously taken the final exam for GRAD 5105, GRAD 5102, Foundations, or CSE: TALK, you will need to wait one year from that date to take the SETTA. When you register, we will check your last test date, so you need not track this information yourself. We recognize that reasonable exceptions to the one-year waiting period may exist. Departments may write Jeff Lindgren at to request exceptions for their students.

What is the SETTA like?

Essentially, the SETTA is a 15-minute presentation in front of two trained raters and an undergraduate student. Twenty minutes before your presentation, you will be given a task sheet (pdf) with randomly-generated material from an introductory textbook in a discipline that you select when you register. So, you have 20 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to present, including the question/answer period.

Only your spoken English accuracy, comprehensibility, and listening ability will be evaluated.

How can I prepare for the SETTA?

Familiarize yourself with the test format and protocol by following the links above to the sample SETTA film and task sheet. Practice explaining concepts from your discipline in an actual classroom to a group of your friends.

How do I register for the test?

You may schedule a SETTA by email.

How are scores reported & what do they mean?

Raw scores are converted into English Language Proficiency ratings which correspond to TA eligibility, and to required courses for ELP ratings below “1”. Results are emailed to students within 2 days. Departments can check ELP ratings through UM Reports within 3 days.

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