J-1 Testing for Post Docs and Visiting Scholars


Note: This test is not sufficient for potential International Teaching Assistants. If you are a potential ITA, please see the information on this page.

1. What is an OPI? 
An Advisory OPI is an oral proficiency interview that is completed by an ACTFL trained interviewer within his/her own academic institution for internal purposes and according to ACTFL testing protocol and professional standards.

2. When and where is the test given?
The test is scheduled on a rolling basis. Once you complete registration and send payment, an interviewer will contact you and schedule an in-person or Skype appointment.

3. How much does the test cost?
The test is $75.

4. How can I pay for the test?
You can pay with a department budget code, a personal check, a money order, a credit card, or a wire transfer. Instructions for each form of payment are below.

5. How do I register?
Please follow the registration link below and complete the fields with your information.

6. What if I need to cancel?
Please immediately contact the interviewer who scheduled your exam. Cancellations made within 48 hours of the appointment cannot be refunded.

7. How do I prepare for the test?
Since the OPI is a proficiency interview, there is no standard way to prepare. The interviewers advise using your English before you sit for the test to warm up. Additionally, it is helpful to read the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines in order to be familiar with the functions, discourse length and accuracy features of the level that you need to achieve.

8. What happens during the interview?
Through a conversational format, you will be asked to talk about yourself, your interests, your daily routine, etc.

9. What should I do if I cannot remember a particular word?
If you do not know a specific term, try to describe or paraphrase what you want to say in the language. Avoid using English slang or making up words.

10. When will I get my scores?
Scores are usually delivered to the requesting Penn department within 3-4 business days of the interview.  During busy times, it may take up to a week.  Scores are not released directly to the candidate, as an Advisory OPI is an institutional exam, and the scores are not guaranteed outside of the Penn community.

11. What do my scores mean?
Candidates who receive a passing rating are considered to have the language skills necessary to be successful in navigating daily life in the U.S., knowing how to get assistance if necessary, performing J-1 program duties, reading and comprehending J-1 program materials, and understanding fully his/her rights, responsibilities, and protections. Please note that the J-1 OPI assessment and the J-1 English Language Proficiency Requirements are different from those needed to certify English fluency for undergraduate instruction at the University of Pennsylvania.

12. When do the scores expire?
Scores are good for the duration of your time at Penn.

13. How do I pay for my test with a credit card? 
After you complete the registration form (link at the bottom of this page), you will be provided with details to access a secure payment site where you can enter your credit card information.

14. How do I pay for my test with a money order or personal check?
Enclose payment in the form of a personal check or International Postal Money Ordermade payable to the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania in an envelope. Address it to: English Language Programs, 110 Fisher Bennett Hall, 3340 Walnut Street, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6274, USA. Please write “J-1 OPI” on the memo line. Do not address payment to a specific individual. Money orders and checks made payable to the wrong entity cannot be returned, so ensure you are properly completing the payment information before mailing.

15. How do I pay for the test fee with a wire transfer?
Please use this wire transfer form and this webpage for instructions on how to send a wire transfer. The University of Pennsylvania is unable to accept wire transfer payments in excess of the balance due on an account.  If your account has been overpaid by a wire transfer payment, we will return the entire wire back to the originator, and we will be unable to schedule your interview until the proper amount is received.

16. How do I pay with a budget code?
Please provide the 26-digit BEN number to be charged in the appropriate field when prompted during registration.

17. Can I retake the test?
Candidates who do not pass may attempt a second interview after a 30-day waiting period. Each candidate is permitted two retake attempts. After three unsuccessful attempts, we recommend candidates seek long-term English study improvement plans, or pursue another method for demonstrating their proficiency.