GSI Teaching & Resource Center



language proficiency program

language proficiency program

Language Proficiency Program

English Language Proficiency Testing:
The Oral Proficiency Test (OPT)

What is the OPT?
The Oral Proficiency Test (OPT) is a video-recorded oral English proficiency test administered on an individual basis. During the OPT, test takers perform the following activities in a classroom setting:

  • Meet one or more UCB undergraduate students who will play the role of students in a discussion section or lab class.
  • Present prepared materials from their disciplines; answer questions posed by the undergraduates.
  • Respond to questions posed by the test administrator.

In order to take the OPT you need to first read thoroughly the OPT orientation materials. You can request an OPT appointment after you have read the orientation materials. Instructions on how to request an OPT appointment are included in the OPT orientation materials.

Once you have passed the OPT, you may complete your application for a GSI appointment.

When should I take the OPT?
If you received a score of 22 to 25 on the TOEFL iBT, or a score of 40 or 45 on the SPEAK test, within two years of your application for a GSI appointment, you will be directed to take the OPT to demonstrate your oral English proficiency for the screening requirement. Incoming students who anticipate teaching in their first semester at Berkeley must submit a language proficiency questionnaire no later than July 15. Continuing students must be tested no later than the semester before they start teaching. For summer or fall semester appointments, continuing students must submit the completed Language Proficiency Questionnaire by March 1. For a spring semester appointment, the deadline to submit the Questionnaire is October 1. Please consult the list of key deadlines in the testing program.

How do I get an appointment to take the OPT?
If, based on your responses to the Language Proficiency Questionnaire, we determine that you need to take the OPT, you will receive an email message instructing you to read the online OPT orientation materials. After you have read through the OPT orientation, you can then request an OPT appointment. Instructions on how to request an OPT appointment are included in the OPT orientation materials.

Please note: When you are given an OPT appointment slot, you should clear your schedule and take the test at the designated time. Because scheduling an OPT session depends on the availability of several participants (undergraduate testing assistants, test raters, test administrator), your test appointment time cannot be changed.   

What will my OPT results mean?
Oral Proficiency Tests administered at UC Berkeley are evaluated by professional English as a Second Language (ESL) specialists. The rating scale for the OPT is based on nationally recognized standards on oral English proficiency and goes from 0 (low) to 4 (high). Each test is evaluated in the areas of pronunciation, speech flow, grammar, vocabulary, organization, listening comprehension, and question handling.

What should I do if I do not pass the OPT?
If you do not receive a passing score on the OPT, you should consider enrolling in a Language Proficiency Program course to work on improving your oral English skills before you take the test again. Students enrolled in the Language Proficiency Program courses will be scheduled to re-take the OPT at the end of the semester.

If you do not take a Language Proficiency Program course, you must wait a minimum of six months to take the OPT again.

Can I enroll in Lan Pro 100A and take the OPT during the semester?
Students who enroll in the class must complete the course before taking the OPT at the end of the semester. Students who have the option of either enrolling in Lan Pro 100A or taking the OPT must choose one or the other option.

If I do not pass the OPT, can I take the SPEAK test?
No. Once students have taken the OPT, any further testing on the Berkeley campus will be done with the OPT.

Last update: 3/13/14