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Oral Proficiency Interviews


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 received their OPIc ratings from LTI, they should refer to the following information

and contact their coordinator/advisor to get information about their TA duties.

  • 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)

Note: OPI results are being recorded in Banner on the form SOATEST and are reflected in WyoRecords with the following value to test result conversions:

  • IL - Intermediate Low
  • IM – Intermediate Mid
  • IH – Intermediate High
  • AL - Advanced Low
  • AM - Advanced Mid
  • AH - Advanced High
  • S – Superior

(9) Exemption Granted

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I schedule the Oral Proficiency Interview by computer?

At your earliest convenience! Ideally, before you apply for a Graduate Teaching Assistantship. Knowing your English Oral Proficiency level as soon as possible helps your future department determine what kind of graduate assistant duties you will be assigned once you start at UW.


Due to unforeseeable circumstances, some graduate assistants can only be admitted close to the beginning of a semester. In this case, make sure that you and your graduate coordinator have your OPIc result six weeks before the start of the semester, (the sooner the better).

Note: Don’t wait until you are on campus to take the OPIc. You cannot be hired as a TA without an OPIc score.

I already took the TOEFL / IELTS/ Duolingo - do I still have to take the OPIc?

YES! The TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo exam is not a valid substitution for the OPIc requirement.


However, you may qualify for an exemption from the OPIc. 

  1. There are two prerequisites to qualify for an exemption from the OPIc
  2. You already have an advanced degree from an English-language university:

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.

  1. You already have served as a teaching assistant:

Please forward proof of teaching experience, such as course teaching evaluations, a short letter from our previous supervisor, or a teaching certificate to your graduate coordinator or faculty mentor. They have to request your OPIc exemption at the Office for Graduate Education (with a copy to Petra Heinz).

NOTE: Your department is not authorized to waive the OPIc for you, even if you qualify for an exemption. ONLY the Office of Graduate Education can grant an exemption from the OPIc exam.

  1. If you will not be serving as a Teaching Assistant at UW, but as a research assistant or administrative assistant, the OPIc test is optional. Some departments, however, do require the OPIc for all of their graduate assistants. This is the reason why all admitted graduate assistants receive an invitation email from Petra Heinz to take the OPIc. If you apply/applied for a research position, always ask your graduate coordinator or faculty mentor if you should schedule an

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 ACTFL rating criteria mean?

We highly recommend you familiarize yourself with the rating criteria before you take the OPIc. For information regarding ACTFL oral proficiency rating criteria please visit: ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 – Speaking, pp.13-18. Here you find descriptions of the Proficiency levels, including topics and functions to be mastered at each level.

How can I best prepare for the OPIc?

Read the rating criteria for the Advanced Low proficiency level. If you find that you have to improve in some areas that will be assessed in order to score at the Advance Low level, I recommend that students

What if I do not pass the OPIc?

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. Your department might have other graduate assistant options for you.

International graduate assistants hired to teach who do not receive a sufficient score (Advanced Low) to fulfill the UW teaching role may also 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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