The OPI was developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) to measure a person’s language proficiency by assessing their ability to perform specific functions in a target language—an illustration might be narrating a past story, or conversing with ease about topics relating to personal daily life. The test aims to gauge a person's ability based on how well they can perform these functions in the target language. The tasks or functions are related to the specific levels of achievement available on the test. 

The OPI is based on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. The guidelines describe 5 major levels (see below) each of which has specific functions and/or abilities related to it. The OPI only tests through the Superior level and reports how well the examinee performed the major level criteria by reporting sublevel scores for Novice, Intermediate and Advanced.


  • Novice Low
  • Novice Mid
  • Novice High


  • Intermediate Low
  • Intermediate Mid
  • Intermediate High


  • Advanced Low
  • Advanced Mid
  • Advanced High



For more specific information regarding the specific functions related to each section, see ACTFL’s proficiency guidelines, which can be found here. http://www.actfl.org/publications/guidelines-and-manuals/actfl-proficiency-guidelines-2012/english/speaking

In addition, the following link provides performance descriptors, which may be helpful for students preparing to take the OPI. http://www.actfl.org/publications/guidelines-and-manuals/actfl-performance-descriptors-language-learners.

Another valuable resource is the “Can do Statements” document, which enables test takers to evaluate what they must be able to do at each specific level. http://www.actfl.org/global_statements.

The following information was prepared by Chantal P. Thompson of the French & Italian department at BYU, who is an ACTFL certified OPI rater. It reviews ways to prepare for the OPI. http://frenital.byu.edu/opi-preparation.