EPI pages
At the end of Fall 2022 semester, the English Proficiency Interview (EPI) service will move from the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) to the Department of Linguistics. While the test itself will remain the same, the name will be changed to Oral English Assessment Interview (OEAI). Registration for the upcoming pre-semester January 2023 testing period will open in early December. Questions regarding OEAI may be directed to Dr. Xun Yan and Dr. Rurik Tywoniw at oeai-illinois@illinois.edu.
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For more info

For questions or information, please contact:

EPI Coordinator
(217) 265-6136


Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

EPI Overview & Sample Video

As a service to the UIUC campus community, CITL offers the English Proficiency Interview (EPI) as a free on-campus option by which graduate students can demonstrate oral English proficiency for teaching and fulfill campus policy and Illinois state law. The EPI schedule can be found here.

Note: As of  March 23, 2020, the EPI is being administered online only. The online interview format is identical to the face-to-face version described next.

Who may take the EPI?

Students are eligible to take the EPI if they have completed an undergraduate degree and are admitted into a graduate program at Illinois. Undergraduate students and students not yet admitted to an Illinois graduate program may take the TOEFL iBT or IELTS to demonstrate oral English proficiency for teaching.

What to bring to the EPI

EPI examinees should bring a photo ID (iCard, passport, driver's license) and their university ID number (UIN). For in-person interviews, examinees will leave any belongings (heavy coat, backpack, phone) with the receptionist. Examinees may take into the interview room their UIN (iCard), a light jacket or sweater, and a bottle of water.

Description of the EPI

The EPI is an interview that elicits language skills necessary for successful communication in instructional settings, including competence with basic terminology for academic disciplines and the interactive skills needed for negotiation of meaning. It does not assess examinees' topical knowledge or teaching skills.

The interview begins with a warm-up/introduction, continues with the core section and definition of terms, and ends with a wind-down.

Topics in the core section may revolve around academic life, current events, or broader community issues related to the examinee's prior experience. This section also includes the definition of terms particular to the courses a student may be expected to teach. The definitions simulate language tasks that are typical of an academic classroom setting. These terms are provided to CITL by the hiring department. During the interview, examinees are given a list of five terms and are asked to choose two to define. If the examinee is unfamiliar with all five terms, a list of General Academic terms may be requested. It should be noted that students are not being tested on their knowledge of these terms.

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 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. 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. In general, EPI scores are posted within 10 business days. Score reports are intended to provide guidance to the student on the selection of English language improvement activities.

Video: Sample EPI

The sample EPI video represents a typical EPI experience and is intended to help prospective examinees know what to expect during the interview. Please note the following:

  • This video is a realistic example of what happens during the EPI.
  • The interviewer is a trained EPI interviewer/rater, and the student is a graduate student who graciously agreed to be interviewed.
  • The interview shown in the video has not been scored.

The EPI is interactive and the topics covered are adapted to each examinee. The questions asked in the sample video will not be the same questions used in future EPIs. However, examinees may expect to be asked to describe or tell a story about an experience, define two terms from their hiring department, support opinions, and compare various sides of one or more issues.

In a real EPI, the definitions may not occur in the same location as shown in the video.

The following table shows the start and end points for each section of the sample interview:

Time stamp

EPI section description

00:05 to 00:41

Brief introduction: Interviewer explains the EPI’s purpose. The student is asked to state her name and UIN for the recording.

00:42 to 02:45

Warm-up (the interviewee adjusts to speaking in English and accustoms herself to the interviewer’s pronunciation and way of speaking)

02:46 to 05:04

Open-ended questions (the student is asked to explain, hypothesize)

05:05 to 07:13

Definitions of two general academic terms (in a real EPI, the terms will come from the hiring department)

07:14 to 14:55

Open-ended questions (supporting an opinion, comparing, hypothesizing)

14:56 to 16:22

Wind-down (interviewer signals that the interview is nearly finished)

16:22 to end

Interview ends. Final instructions are given for receiving the final EPI score.