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Graduate Admissions

All international graduate students applying for a teaching assistantship must take the Oral Proficiency interview by computer (OPIc).

The OPIc, a web-based proctored Oral Proficiency Interview offered by Language Testing International (LTI) can be scheduled online and taken on your own, anytime, from anywhere.

The cost is $105 (to be paid by the student prior to enrolling in courses at UW). Students can ask their home departments if funds are available to offset the cost of the OPIc.

Instructions on how to register for the Oral Proficiency Interview


Understanding Proficiency

Proficiency refers to the ability to perform an action or function. It refers to one's ability to use language for real-world purposes to accomplish real-world linguistic tasks across a wide range of topics and settings. ACTFL Proficiency Tests reflect and measure the candidate's ability to carry out these real-world tasks.

Differing from an achievement test, which measures knowledge of specific information (what a person knows), a proficiency test targets what an individual can do with what he or she knows. As in a driver's test, an achievement test would represent the paper and pencil questions on the written examination, while a proficiency test determines how well the person can drive the car. The language proficiency test is an evaluation of how well a person can use language to communicate in real life.


 OPIc Results

The University of Wyoming has a regulation regarding Oral English proficiency skills for graduate teaching positions: Only students who are rated Advanced Low or higher qualify to teach as graduate assistants.

Once students receive OPIc ratings from LTI, they should refer to the following information:

· Intermediate Mid: Student is qualified to do research

· Intermediate High: Student is qualified to grade papers

· Advanced Low: Student is qualified to teach a Lab or to lead a seminar (under supervision)

· Advanced Mid and higher: Student is qualified to teach a course (under supervision)




Frequently Asked Questions:


I already took the TOEFL; do I also have to take the OPIc?

The TOEFL is not a valid substitution for the OPIc requirement. However, there are exceptions.

1. If you already have an advanced degree from an English-language university and have already served as a teaching assistant, you do not need to take this test. Your English university degree must be apparent on your transcripts. Please refer to the list of countries from which the University of Wyoming accepts university degrees that qualify for OPIc waivers.

2. If you will not be serving as a teaching assistant at UW, the OPIc test is optional, but can still be required by your department. If you apply for a research position, please ask the graduate coordinator if you should schedule an OPIc.

3. If you will teach at UW and you do not qualify for an exception, your department cannot waive the OPI exam. Please confirm your status by consulting with your department and faculty mentor.


How is the Oral Proficiency Interview conducted?

The ACTFL OPIc is an on-demand, internet-delivered speaking proficiency test. An avatar provides a customized series of prompts based on the interests and experience of the test-taker, which are gathered during the survey phase at the beginning of the test. The test is recorded and assessed by ACTFL-trained, certified raters, and a score is assigned against the ACTFL scale. The OPIc takes 20–40 minutes to complete. This link provides detailed information about the OPIc, and you can even take a demo version:


What do the rating criteria mean?

For information regarding ACTFL oral proficiency rating criteria please visit:

ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 – Speaking, pp.13-18

What if I do not pass the test?

If you are supported by a graduate assistantship that requires teaching, you should take the OPIc exam prior to accepting the assistantship. Please consult with your home department if you are unable to pass the exam. International graduate assistants hired to teach who do not receive a sufficient score to fulfill the UW teaching role may retake the exam but should consult with their home department and the International Graduate ESL Coordinator, Petra Heinz, before doing so. Testing twice in rapid succession is not likely to show a different result.

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