The Persian Capstone Program partners with American Councils for International Education to provide pre- and post-program assessment of our students’ proficiency levels. Students who achieve a Level 3 proficiency rating on the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale will be awarded a Flagship Scholar Certificate.
Capstone students also take a mid-year proficiency test using the University of Maryland Test of Persian Proficiency© and an official ACTFL OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview). This round of proficiency testing is usually scheduled in early December and covers all 4 skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. All students take the Persian Proficiency Test at a set date and time, while OPIs are scheduled individually.
Persian Proficiency Test
The University of Maryland Test of Persian Proficiency© was designed by faculty at the University of Maryland and has two levels. Persian Capstone students take the Higher Level test, designed for students at level 2 to 3+ or higher. This test is made up of 3 sections: Reading, Listening and Writing. The exam takes about 4.5 hours in total and students are allowed short breaks between each section. Studying is not necessary, but if you want to practice your skills ahead of time, we recommend reviewing your class materials as well as visiting our Resources Page for additional ideas.
Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)
The ACTFL OPI is designed to test your proficiency level in spoken Persian and is conducted over the phone with a certified OPI tester. The call will last about 30 minutes.
The questions you will be asked are designed to let you showcase your Persian grammar, vocabulary and fluency. Your OPI may also include a short role-play (for example, you could be told that “your car breaks down and you ask someone for help, what do you say?”) If you are asked a question that you consider too personal or do not wish to answer, please let the examiner know and they will ask a different question. The questions will become progressively more difficult as the interview goes on, until you can no longer answer well. Please do not worry about this – this is normal. This lets the tester set a ‘floor’ and ‘ceiling’ for your language skills.
Although you won't know what questions and scenarios your tester will ask, you can prepare for your OPI by taking some time beforehand to prepare some topics that you would like to discuss with your tester and practicing the relevant vocabulary for those topics. Your tester will usually ask you to introduce yourself in the beginning of your exam, and this is your time to mention things you are interested in like hobbies, your academic major, or future career plans. The tester will then ask you follow up questions about the topics you have mentioned. Remember, this is a test of your Persian skills, not a real interview. So feel free to leave things out or make up stories depending on what you want to talk about. For example, perhaps you are terrible at cooking but you know a lot of food and kitchen-related vocabulary. Your OPI is a great time to show that off, and you can have fun pretending you are an avid chef. On the same note, if you have a deep love of hiking but don't know any of the appropriate vocabulary, you might want to leave out that detail about yourself. You should also watch the news and catch up on current events before the OPI, as the tester will often ask questions related to events that happened recently.
Scores and Expected Outcomes
It is important to remember that each individual test score is only a snapshot of your abilities. The results of these annual proficiency tests do not affect your standing in the Persian Flagship Program; rather, they provide important information about your progress in the language and allow us to pinpoint any areas that may need additional attention.
The post-program assessment, administered by American Councils, is the final proficiency test. Students who achieve a Level 3 proficiency rating in Speaking and one other skill (Reading or Listening) on the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale will be awarded a Flagship Scholar Certificate.