CESL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)

CESL now offers a test of spoken English proficiency. The test is designed to measure communicative competence. Test-takers are assessed based on the fluency, accuracy, and range of their spoken language production. Their assessed level of oral proficiency is based on the language scale developed by the world-standard Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). After completing the interview, test-takers will be sent an Official Score Report specifying their level of oral proficiency (not overall proficiency). 

This proficiency test has been specifically designed to assess the oral proficiency of potential visiting scholars to UA, and satisfies requirements of the International and Faculty and Scholars for issuing a J1 Visa. 

The essential information about the OPI is as follows:

  • The OPI assesses oral proficiency only, and does not assess competence in other skills (e.g. Reading, Writing). The test is conducted online (via Skype or other application) and is a 15-minute interview with an assessment specialist from CESL.
  • Through a series of questions, both general and academic in nature, the fluency, accuracy and range of the test-taker’s oral English production is assessed.
  • The test is scored using a rubric from the Common European Frame of Reference (CEFR), the world-standard proficiency scale for language assessment.
  • In order to qualify for a J1 visa, test-takers must score a B2 (i.e. highly independent) on the CEFR scale.
  • Shortly after the interview, typically on the same day, the test-taker is sent a formal score report via e-mail with the proficiency score from the test.
  • Typically, interviews are scheduled and conducted within two weeks of applying for the test.
  • Test-takers from around the world have taken this test since it was launched in January 2015. It is a viable and practical alternative for potential visiting scholars instead of taking one of the commercial English proficiency tests (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS).

OPI test scores are accepted by the International Facutly and Scholars office at UA for the purposes of issuing J-1 visas for potential visiting scholars. In addition, OPI's are administered for UA departments wishing to screen the oral proficiency of potential TA's. 

Please note that all potential test-takers should have contacted University of Arizona departments and made arrangements for sponsorship prior to taking this test. No refunds are available once a test-taker has registered. Anybody wishing to re-take the test must wait at least 3 months to do so. OPI test scores are not admissable for UA or CESL coursework.

For more information about J-1 visa requirements for exchange visitors see this document.


After applying for the OPI, interviews are scheduled and conducted within ten business days. 

Cost: $60.00 (US) 
Testing Fees: All sales are final. The testing fee is not refundable, transferable, or deferrable.

Any questions about OPI testing can be directed to Dr. Eddy White, CESL's Assessment Coordinator, at ewhite3@email.arizona.edu.