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Once a year, all Persian Flagship students are tested using the UMD Persian Proficiency Test and an official ACTFL OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview). This annual proficiency testing is usually scheduled in early October 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. The Lower Level test is for students in the 0+ to 2 level on the ILR scale, and the Higher Level test is for students at level 2 to 3+ or higher. This test measures proficiency levels in reading, listening and writing skills. The Lower Level exam is about 3.5 hours long with 4 sections, and the Higher Level exam is about 4.5 hours and has 3 sections. 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 20-30 minutes.

The questions you will be asked are designed to let you showcase your fluency in speaking and accurate use of grammar and vocabulary. 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. To help you understand your test scores, please see the chart below of expected proficiency levels for each year:

More information about the different levels and scores can be found on the ACTFL OPI website and by reading through the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 – Speaking, and information about the ILR scale can be found at the website for the Interagency Language Roundtable.

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