J-1 Testing for Post-docs and Visiting Scholars

J-1 Testing for Post-docs and Visiting Scholars

J-1 Testing for Post-docs and Visiting Scholars

Information is applicable to non-matriculated international scholars seeking a J-1 visa (i.e., postdoctoral researchers or visiting scholars). 

Note: This test is not sufficient for potential International Teaching Assistants. 

Register for the J-I Oral Proficiency Interview

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.

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 virtual appointment.

The cost of a J-1 interview is $100.

  • Paying by credit card: After you complete the registration form, you will be provided with details to access a secure payment site where you can enter your credit card information.
  • Paying by money order or personal check: Enclose payment in the form of a personal check or international postal money order made 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.
  • Paying by wire transfer: Please use this wire transfer form and the Penn Division of Finance website 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.
  • Paying by budget code: Please provide the 26-digit BEN number to be charged in the appropriate field when prompted during registration.

Please immediately contact the interviewer who scheduled your exam. Cancellations made within 48 hours of the appointment cannot be refunded.

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.

Through a conversational format, you will be asked to talk about yourself, your interests, your daily routine, etc.

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.

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.

Candidates who receive a passing rating are considered to have the language skills necessary to be successful in navigating daily life in the US, 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.

Scores are good for the duration of your time at Penn.

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.