Arabic Proficiency and OPI Tests
1. Proficiency exam or Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)?
BSFS and MSFS students fulfilling their program requirements take the Proficiency Exam. All other SFS students fulfilling the Arabic Minor requirement in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies or fulfilling requirements in their own program take the OPI. Arabic Majors and Arabic Minors in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies take OPI. All exams are conducted in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) to all students including native speakers of Arabic (NO EXCEPTION). Note that these exams are recorded.
Who can take the Arabic Proficiency Exam? The Arabic proficiency exams are administered ONLY to BSFS and MSFS students in the School of Foreign Service.
To take the proficiency exam:
- BSFS students must have completed Intensive Advanced Arabic I (ARAB 215) and enrolled in Intensive Advanced Arabic II (ARAB216)/Non-Intensive Advanced Arabic II (ARAB217) or have completed an elective course such as Media Arabic (ARAB213, RAB214), Business Arabic, or other elective course, PLUS enrolled in another advanced elective course (above 300 level) to attempt the Proficiency Exam.
- MSFS students must have completed Intermediate Arabic II (ARAB112) and have started either Advanced Arabic I (ARAB215) or Media Arabic I (ARAB213) to attempt the Proficiency Exam.
- Students who took Advanced Arabic ARAB 215/ARAB216/ARAB217 (or their equivalents) abroad must first take the PLACEMENT exam before they can sign up for the proficiency exam. Please refer to information about Placement exam HERE.
- If there is more than a semester gap in taking an Arabic course at GU, the student must take the placement exam before attempting the Proficiency Exam.
Who can take the OPI? The Oral Proficiency Interview is administered to Arabic Majors and Minors, and to SFS graduate programs excluding MSFS and BSFS. MAAS students take the OPI.
To take the OPI:
- All Arabic Majors who are enrolled in Arabic language course take a mandatory OPI once a year.
- All graduate students in SFS (excluding MSFS) must have completed Intensive Intermediate Arabic (ARAB 112) and have started either Intensive Advanced Arabic (ARAB 215) or Media Arabic I (ARAB 213) to attempt the OPI.
- Students who took Advanced Arabic (ARAB 215/216/ARAB217) (or their equivalents) abroad must first take the PLACEMENT exam before they can sign up for the OPI. Please refer information about Placement exam HERE.
- MAAS students who have started ARAB 215 are eligible to take OPI.
- Students who took ARAB 215/216 or 217 (or their equivalents) abroad must first take the PLACEMENT exam before they can sign up for the OPI. Please refer to information about Placement exam HERE.
- If there is more than a semester gap in taking an Arabic course at GU, the student must take the placement exam before attempting the OPI.
Arabic Majors: In April of each year, Arabic majors who are enrolled in Arabic language courses, are required to take an oral proficiency interview (OPI, not the same as the proficiency exam required by BSFS and MSFS), lasting approximately 30 minutes. This is a departmental requirement. Students who do not take the test will have their Arabic final grades withheld for the semester. Majors do not need to sign-up for this exam, but will be contacted in March with more information concerning the date and time of the test.
2. When is the Exam administered?
The Arabic Proficiency and Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) Exams are conducted in November and April of each year.
3. Exam Registration and Schedule:
All students (except Arabic Majors) taking Arabic Proficiency exam or OPI MUST register by the deadline. No registration requests are accepted after the Registration deadline below.
Fall Semester – Registration starts on the second Monday in October, stays open for two weeks, and closes on the Friday of the second week at 5 PM. Students are contacted by faculty administering the exam informing them about the exam date by end of October. Exams are held during the first two weeks in November.
Spring Semester – Registration starts on the second Monday in March and ends on stays open for two weeks, and closes on the Friday of the second week at 5 PM. Students are contacted by faculty administering the exam informing them about the exam date by end of March. Exams are held during the first two weeks in April.
How to register for the Exam? Follow the steps below to register. BOTH STEPS must be completed.
- Step 1. Click HERE to complete the Registration Form by the deadline.
Step 2. Submit a $25 deposit check (or exact cash amount) payable to Georgetown University. Deposit payment must be submitted by the deadline at the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Poulton Hall, room #200.
Students who postpone their exam after agreeing to a time with the Proctor will forfeit their deposit. Should the student then postpone a second time, they will have to pay an additional deposit of $25. Please note that students must pick up their deposit by the last day of classes in the semester in which the exam was taken, or it will be deposited.
4. Arabic Proficiency Exam Format & Procedure
Prior to the exam:
Examinee is advised to review Arabic Articles on Politics, Economy and Culture using Arabic website to be familiar with Arabic authentic articles, such as:
Using this or similar information, the examinee prepares an oral presentation that lasts 4 to 5 minutes on a cultural, economic, political topic or current situation related to Arab World. Presentation cannot be read. No personal narratives will be conducted.
Exam Time: The duration of the exam is 30 minutes minimum, 45 minutes maximum. Examinee must arrive at the office of the faculty member administering her/his exam at least 15 minutes before exam time.
Proficiency Exam Structure & Process:
The exam starts with 2 to 3 minutes of warm-up conversation to create a comfortable environment for the examinee by asking him/her 2-4 questions on their Arabic background. Then, the examinee gives her/his 4 to 5 minutes oral presentation on a cultural, economic, political topic or current situation related to Arab World.
After Warm- up, examinee is provided with three different articles on current Arab events (politics, economics and culture), and then examinee chooses only ONE article as the exam material.
Examinee has 15 minutes to read through text without the aid of a dictionary. After 15-minutes, examinee will be asked to summarize the article, then answer 4-5 comprehensive questions about the article; examinee should be ready to express her/his opinion on the topic and demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter.
- repeat the question twice if the examinee does not understand the question,
- remind the examinee of exam duration time if the examinee slows down to answer questions or deviates from the current topic,
- remind the examinee to avoid any Arabic Colloquial in the exam instead of MSA.
The examiner ends the interview by asking the examinee about her/his future plan.
Examination results shall be sent to the student’s Dean within 5-7 days after the exam. Students should NOT contact the examiner or exam coordinator before this period.
Examinees who pass the proficiency exam are able to satisfy simple personal needs and social demands to survive in an Arab environment. They should also sustain discourse through use of oral paragraph, engage in a conversation dealing with current events, and demonstrate familiarity with relevant historical, cultural, political, and economic information.
A PASS on the proficiency exam is comparable to achieving an Advanced Low to Advanced Mid on the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages Proficiency Guidelines (ACTFL) rating.
- For MSFS students: Advanced Mid (ACTFL scale)
- For SFS students: Advanced Low (ACTFL scale)
- For MAAS students: Advanced mid (ACTFL scale)
Please contact exam coordinator, Professor Ghayda Al Ali email@example.com with questions regarding the exam