What is the OPT?
When should I take the OPT?
How do I get an appointment to take the OPT?
What will my OPT results mean?
What should I do if I do not pass the OPT?
Can I enroll in Lan Pro 380 and take the OPT during the semester?
Summary of the Rating Scale for the OPT at UC Berkeley*

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 Speaking section of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT, or a score of 6.5 to 7.5 on the Speaking section of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, or an overall score of 51–75 on the Versant English Test (taken at UC Berkeley) within two years of your application for a GSI appointment, you will be directed to take the OPT to demonstrate your oral English proficiency. Incoming students who anticipate teaching in their first semester at Berkeley must submit a language proficiency questionnaire no later than May 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. According to University policy, students must have a score of 3- or above in each of the following three categories to be eligible for a GSI appointment at UC Berkeley: 1) Pronunciation, 2) Question Handling, and 3) Final Score.

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 380 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 380 or taking the OPT must choose one or the other option.

Summary of the Rating Scale for the OPT at UC Berkeley*

0 Speaking and reading aloud are unintelligible to the raters. The test takers cannot sustain conversations because of very poor listening comprehension, extremely limited control of grammar and vocabulary, and severe weaknesses in pronunciation and fluency. They are not able to handle questions or demonstrate strategies to clarify misunderstandings. Any attempts at explanations are impossible to follow.
1 Speaking and reading aloud are barely intelligible to the raters. The test takers frequently make major errors in pronunciation and grammar. Their range of grammar structures is extremely limited, and they lack the vocabulary necessary to perform specific tasks. Speech is very slow and halting except for routine expressions. Listening comprehension is very weak; misunderstanding continues with frequent breakdowns in communication despite clarification and repetition. The overall structure of explanations is not clear. The sequence and development of ideas is very difficult to follow. The test takers often seem confused by questions and respond inappropriately or illogically.
2 Speaking and reading aloud are intelligible with effort on the part of the raters. Test takers make major pronunciation errors, including errors with stress and intonation, linking and pausing. Speech flow is problematic; the test takers might speak too fast, or in a very slow, halting manner. The phrasing does not follow expected patterns; the rhythm is distracting to the listener. The test takers can convey meaning accurately in simple sentences, but make major errors using complex grammar, or they avoid using complex structures. They have sufficient vocabulary to speak simply, but they struggle when performing specific tasks and make inappropriate word choices. Explanations are often minimal, or they may be overly repetitive or rambling. Appropriate patterns of organization are missing or misused. During interactions the test takers have trouble understanding other speakers and are unable to clarify questions successfully, or they respond to questions immediately, but their responses do not correspond to the task or topic appropriately.
3 Speaking and reading aloud are intelligible to the raters. There may be consistent minor errors in pronunciation, but they are not disturbing to the listeners. The test takers use appropriate phrasing patterns. They speak fluently; they might speak with a slightly distracting rhythm, but this rarely interferes with communication. In addition to using a full range of basic grammar structures, they are able to use complex structures. Minor grammar errors do not affect communication. Test takers have the vocabulary to handle specific tasks satisfactorily; they may make occasional errors with non-critical vocabulary. They can paraphrase easily. They explain clearly, providing sufficient detail. They are not overly redundant or repetitive or rambling. Test takers can follow most speech; occasionally they may need clarification or repetition to understand. They can clarify misunderstandings successfully. They respond clearly to most questions, elaborating as needed, and their answers are reasonable if not completely accurate.
4 Speaking and reading aloud sound smooth and effortless to the raters. Test takers demonstrate a high degree of facility in speaking with good control of pronunciation, stress, rhythm, intonation patterns, and speed. Their vocabulary is extensive, appropriate, and sophisticated. They use high-level complex structures accurately and give well-organized, fully-developed, logical explanations without relying heavily on jargon. They can communicate easily on a variety of topics and respond to questions with clear, well-developed, appropriate answers.

*These ratings are derived from UCLA’s Oral Proficiency Test and are used with permission.