Coordinator: Qiusi Zhang


Phone: (217) 244-6748


Formerly known as the English Proficiency Interview (EPI), the Oral English Assessment Interview (OEAI) was renamed and moved into its new hosting department, Linguistics, in December 2022.
About the OEAI

The Oral English Assessment Interview (OEAI) is an interview-based assessment for graduate teaching assistants. It is one of the means by which prospective international teaching assistants (ITAs) can demonstrate oral proficiency in English and fulfill campus policy and Illinois state law. 

Illinois policy requires the following:

Graduate students who wish to be considered for teaching assistantships – which include TA appointments for face-to-face classes, blended and online instruction, accompanying/coaching, and office hours -- must provide evidence of spoken English language proficiency.
Learn About Different Methods of Oral Proficiency Certification/ Score Requirements

Students must obtain a qualifying score on the TOEFL iBT, IELTS, or the OEAI to be considered for teaching assistantships.

Individual academic programs may require a higher score; contact your proposed program of study office for the minimum TOEFL iBT, IELTS, or OEAI requirement. 

We encourage new students to fulfill the oral English proficiency requirement for teaching prior to arriving on campus for the first time by obtaining a qualifying speaking score on the TOEFL or IELTS. Graduate students may also take the TOEFL or IELTS after arriving on campus.

English Proficiency Scores Required for TA Appointment
English Proficiency Test Required Scores



24 or higher

IELTS (academic exam)


8 or higher 

3, 4, or 5

Note: There have been recent changes on the OEAI scale. A current 3 corresponds to 4CP (conditional pass) on the old scale. See Interpreting Scores for more detail.

  • Scores remain valid as long as the student is continuously enrolled as a graduate student at Illinois.
  • The University is accepting qualifying speaking scores from the TOEFL iBT Home Edition.
  • The University is not accepting TOEFL ITP Plus for China test and the Duolingo English Test 

For TOEFL iBT and ELTS: 

  • Scores must be less than two years old from the first day of class at the proposed term of entry into an Illinois graduate program.
  • Scores must be officially reported to the university.
  • Scores remain valid as long as the student is continuously enrolled as a graduate student at Illinois.


Eligibility and Exemptions


To be eligible to take the OEAI, students must

  • Have obtained a bachelor's degree, and
  • Have accepted an offer to an Illinois graduate program.



Beginning in Fall of 2023, graduate students are exempt from demonstrating oral English proficiency if:

  1. They originate from, or have attended English-medium schools continuously since age 13 (or younger) in, any of the following countries:

    Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Dominica, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Scotland, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, St. Kitts, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, and Zimbabwe. 

  2. They are hired as Graders and have no oral interaction with students. 

Test Procedure

The OEAI is being administered online only. Below is an approximate timeline of the OEAI procedure. 

Timeline OEAI Section
1 minute Brief introduction: Interviewer explains the OEAI’s purpose. The student is asked to show their photo ID (iCard, passport, driver's license) and state their name and UIN.
2 minutes

Warm-up: The interviewee is asked questions about topics such as academic life, current events, or broader community issues related to the examinee's prior experience.

The interviewee adjusts to speaking in English and accustoms herself to the interviewer’s pronunciation and way of speaking.

4 minutes Definitions of two terms from the interviewee's hiring department. The definition of terms will be particular to the courses a student may be expected to teach. Interviewer may ask follow-up questions. It should be noted that students are not being tested on their knowledge of these terms, but the strategies used and comprehensibility of their definitions.
6 minutes Open-ended questions (supporting an opinion, comparing, hypothesizing) on academic subjects related to the interviewee's field.
2 minutes Wind-down (interviewer signals that the interview is nearly finished). Interviewee can ask questions. Interviewer will explain score reporting.
< 1 minute Interview concludes

In addition to the interviewer, one silent rater is also present in the interview room. Under circumstances of training, a third rater may also be present. The graduate student interviewee, however, need to speak only with the interviewer. The interview lasts 15 minutes and is recorded for later review in the event that the interviewer and silent rater disagree on the score. Interview recordings are used only for scoring purposes.

Score Reporting

In general, each OEAI test is rated by two certified raters, and scores are posted within 10 business days.

In cases of disagreement, a third or possibly fourth rater may review the recorded interview. In such cases, the reporting of score results may be delayed.

OEAI Mock Interview
Remote Media URL