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What do you need to know about OPIc?

Updated on March 1, 2017

What is OPIc?

There is a global rise in the need for oral language proficiency tests and qualifications. In the field of language, there may be a new consideration with the world Englishes, but for most companies and universities, there is still a need to provide good proficiency exam scores.

For instance, OPIc, which stands for Oral Proficiency Interview by computer, is an English proficiency examination that professionals and incoming university students take to qualify for employment or enrollment. This is usually required to see the English language level of applicants who are mostly non-native English speakers.

This test came to be because of the need to give proper and reliable oral language proficiency levels for employers and school administrators. This is mostly taken by non-English speakers to see their current speaking or communication level.

The OPIc has the same goal as that of OPI. This is to get a sufficient amount of speech samples to rate and evaluate which will be compared to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) or ILR Proficiency Guidelines to assign a rating.

Parts of OPIc

The test is composed of three major parts: survey, self-assessment, interview.

Although the test is divided into three parts, the first two parts are simple guides in generating the questions for the actual test-interview. The test-taker must answer questions directed by the computer programmed-examiner (a simulated figure: Ava).

In the first part, survey. The test-taker must answer questions about his/her basic information and related topics. Through this background survey, the test would be use to make the unique test questions. Ava would ask recorded questions which are individually made based on the survey and self-assessment results to fit and properly test the examinee's needs and level.

Sample OPIc background survey

OPIc Self-Assessment

According to the ACTFL, the OPIc test levels are divided into Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Superior. However, these levels are still divided into sub-levels. Then for the self-assessment there are five forms to seek more reliable results for your target level.

The ACTFL also offers the test to a number of languages in Arabic, Azerbaijani, Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish

Format of OPIc

The OPIc structure is based on one of five test forms.

Form 1 – targets proficiency levels Novice Low through Novice High, though any rating from Novice Low through Intermediate Low can be assigned to a sample that is elicited using Form 1.

Form 2 – targets proficiency levels Novice High through Intermediate Mid though any rating from Novice Low through Advanced can be assigned to a sample that is elicited using Form 2.

Form 3 – targets proficiency levels Intermediate Mid through Advanced, though any rating from Novice Low through Advanced can be assigned to a sample that is elicited using Form 3.

Form 4 – targets proficiency levels Advanced Low through Superior, though any rating from Novice Low through Superior can be assigned to a sample that is elicited using Form 4.

Form 5 – targets proficiency levels Advanced High through Superior, though Advanced Mid can also be assigned to a sample that is elicited using Form 4.

The Interview

After answering the survey, the interview would be a uniquely made one according to the result. You would have to answer 12 to 15 questions.

The interview would be a combination of basic information questions, role plays, and other extra questions. You would hear the question once then the recording of your answer will start right after. However, you may have the choice to replay the question before answering. There is also an option to skip a question, but I suggest that you answer as much as you could to have a more valid result for your proficiency level.

To find some tips in preparing for the test you make check my next post about OPIc.

Raters and the Rating System

Test-takers may be concerned on how a computer-generated test can give accurate test results. The samples gathered and recorded from the OPIc would be evaluated by ACTFL Certified Raters.

Once the test is done, the recorded files are uploaded and saved for the raters to access later on. These raters listen to the files and assess them using the given criteria.

ACTFL Levels

Check ACTFL website for more information: http://www.actfl.org/publications/guidelines-and-manuals/actfl-proficiency-guidelines-2012/english
Check ACTFL website for more information: http://www.actfl.org/publications/guidelines-and-manuals/actfl-proficiency-guidelines-2012/english | Source

Once you are ready and you understood the OPIc test, for your next step: prepare for the test.

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