The information was taken from the ACTFL website. Later, I will add some of my own.
How can I best prepare to take the OPIc?
It is helpful to read the ILR Language Skill Level Descriptions – Speaking. in order to be familiar with the communication tasks, discourse length and accuracy features of the level that you need to demonstrate. Practice as much as you can the tasks that you will need to demonstrate during the test, i.e., having short conversations, asking questions, recounting experiences, giving full descriptions, stating and supporting opinions, etc. Review the ILR OPIc Familiarization and OPIc Demo before taking the OPIc test.
How is the OPIc structured?
You will be presented with 15-20 prompts at various levels of difficulty based on your selections from a Background Survey, and your Self Assessment based on Can Do statements. There are often several questions in each prompt to give you some ideas about things to talk about and suggestions about details to provide. If you do not fully remember every question contained in a prompt, simply address the primary question to the best of your ability.
What if on the Self Assessment I don’t check the correct set of statements?
Select the set of statements that you believe most accurately represents your ability. However, the OPIc is structured so that each OPIc provides opportunities to test a range of skills and to provide opportunities to perform at the next higher level. Additionally, you are rated not only on your ability to perform the requested tasks, but also on the level of the response. For this same reason, you cannot improve your rating by trying to choose an easier set of Can Do statements.
How long is the OPIc?
The OPIc itself is not a timed exam, but the response/record time allowed for each question varies depending on the difficulty level of the prompt. The more advanced prompts will provide more time to respond. The test averages about 20 – 40 minutes to complete.
What is contained in each prompt?
Each prompt gives you a topic and a speaking task to perform. Because the OPIc is a measure of interpersonal speaking ability, the prompts are presented in a conversational format. Each prompt is specifically structured to elicit a speaking task for a level of the ILR Scale from 0+ through 2. To learn more, please review the ILR OPIc Familiarization.
Am I required to answer all prompts?
You should be able to respond to every prompt on the OPIc. It is very important to give the best response one can give rather than skip a prompt altogether.
I took the OPIc and it kept asking me questions about the same topic. Is this an error in the system?
The OPIc is designed to mimic a true conversation, so that for each topic, follow up questions are usually asked that will require you to expand on what you have said. This ensures that you demonstrate the ability to spontaneously create with the language, and it may give you an opportunity to perform a task for a different level, but on the same topic. Your rating is based on your ability to specifically address what is being asked of you.
What if I am asked about a topic that I don’t know much about?
If you are asked a question that you are unfamiliar with, simply explain why you are unfamiliar with it and volunteer something on a related topic. Again, this is a proficiency test that is only measuring your ability to communicate in the target language.
What is the rating scale of the OPIc?
The ILR OPIc is rated according to the ILR Scale for Speaking. The ILR OPIc assesses proficiency from ILR Level 0+ through ILR Level 2. Candidates wishing to be tested at the higher levels of the ILR scale are recommended to take an ILR OPI. Please visit www.languagetesting.com for more information.
What are the best strategies for success on the OPIc?
When taking the OPIc, listen to the prompts carefully and address the specific task in each prompt. This is a test of proficiency. You will not be rated on your knowledge of specific topics or factual accuracy, but rather on how well you speak in the target language. Be sure to answer all prompts as fully and completely as you can, in as much detail as possible.
What if I memorize scripts or rehearse speeches for certain topic areas?
Learning a “script” to use in response to questions on specific topics will not improve your rating. OPIc Raters are trained to recognize memorized or rehearsed speech. In fact, all memorized material is considered 0+ level proficiency.
I always get nervous when I have to speak the language and I’m uncomfortable talking to a computer.
The OPIc provides you with numerous opportunities to demonstrate proficiency over a variety of content areas so that there is a substantial sample of speech. In this way, the OPIc ensures that you have ample opportunity to overcome anxiety, and are not penalized due to a lack of familiarity with a given topic. To help you become more comfortable with the OPIc test format, please view the OPIc Demo and the ILR OPIc Familiarization and the OPIc Demo.
Are there any strategies or techniques I can use to improve my OPIc score?
The OPIc measures how a person will perform when confronted with a real world speaking encounter with another speaker of the language. The best way to improve your rating is to improve your speaking ability