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Oral Certification Interview FAQs

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What is the Oral Certification Interview (OCI)?

The Oral Certification Interview (OCI) is a one on one conversation between the student and a member of the ITA staff. A variety of different questions will be asked in order to determine what the student is able to do with the English language and how they communicate in variety of different tasks.

The student should come to the interview prepared to have a normal conversation. However, if the interviewer feels the need for additional information concerning the student’s communicative capabilities, the student may be asked to do an impromptu 3-5 minute teaching demonstration on a topic in their field.  Bear in mind, though, the OCI is not a test of the student’s topical knowledge or to determine how good of a TA they will be, only to determine how well they are able to communicate in English.


Who is eligible for an OCI?

Students who meet the following test requirements are eligible for an OCI:







  • *If a student’s scores are not consistent with the above ranges (For example, if the scores are 23 speaking and 28 listening, or 27 speaking and 23 listening), please schedule an OCI with the ITA Program.
  • Please note: Graduate Admissions bases English proficiency requirements on a student’s previous study, work experience and/or country of origin. Please refer to their website here. Waived test scores based on graduate admissions does not mean a student is waived from English Oral Proficiency Certification. If your test scores are waived, please schedule an OCI. If you have doubts about whether you need to schedule an OCI please email the ITA Coordinator, Vandana Loebel, at or call 312.413.2235.
How do I schedule and OCI?

To schedule an OCI go to:  

How do I receive certification with an OCI?
In order to receive full certification with the OCI the student must be able to consistently do the following things:
  • participate fully as an able, willing and independent interlocutor
  • use repair and circumlocution strategies 
  • narrate and describe in all major time frames with some control of aspect
  • handle routine situations with a complication or unexpected communicative task
  • speak in connected, paragraph length discourse
  • speak about a variety of topics in most formal and informal situations (work, school, home, employment, current/public events, etc.)
  • be easily understood by native speakers unaccustomed to non-native speakers

*** Student may still demonstrate errors in grammar, vocabulary, and accuracy, but these do not affect the student’s overall ability to communicate effectively in English.


What are some questions that might be asked during the OCI?

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Have you ever traveled to the U.S. before?
  • Do you live in a dorm or an apartment?
  • When did you become interested in that?
  • Describe your apartment/home for me.
  • You mentioned that you have a sibling. Can you tell me about him/her?
  • Could you elaborate on that?
  • Where do you think the future of your field of study is headed?
  • What is your favorite hobby and why do you like it?
  • Tell me about your hometown.
  • What is your opinion about…..?
  • Tell me a story about……


***All OCIs will be audio recorded***