Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts
English for Professional Purposes Intercultural Center

Language Proficiency Interview (LPI)

Language Proficiency Interview (LPI)

Language Proficiency Interviews for J-1 Exchange Scholar Applicants

J-1 Exchange Scholar applicants may demonstrate their English oral proficiency through a Language Proficiency Interview (LPI) conducted by Penn State’s English for Professional Purposes Intercultural Center (EPPIC).

To register for an interview, visit the LPI scheduling and payment page.

LPI Procedures & Policies

  • Interviews last 20-25 minutes, and assess proficiency in spoken English. 
  • Scholars will be asked to show the interviewer a form of official identification that includes a recent photo and his/her name written in Latin script.
  • Scholars may not consult any written materials or other resources (e.g., people, texts, websites, on-line translators, dictionaries) during the interview.  No earbuds or headphones may be used during the interview.
  • If the interviewer concludes that the scholar is consulting outside sources during the interview, the interview will be deemed invalid and the interview fee will be forfeited.  There will be a mandatory waiting period of three months before the scholar may schedule a second interview.  The scholar’s PI or faculty sponsor will be notified of the invalid interview.

LPI Proficiency Ratings

The results of the Language Proficiency Interview are:

  • shared with the scholar by e-mail within five (5) business days of completing the interview (not including weekend days)
  • posted to the scholar’s iStart application

Interviews are assigned one of three possible ratings: 1) Passing, 2) Conditional:  Support Required, or 3) Not Passing.

An LPI rating of ‘Passing’ rating signifies that the candidate has the language skills necessary to navigate daily life in the U.S., to request assistance if necessary, and to perform J-1 program duties.
An LPI rating of ‘Conditional: Support Required’ signifies that the candidate has sufficient English skills to begin a J-1 program, but requires further language development in order to perform program duties at a professional level. Candidates who receive this rating should enroll and participate actively in EPPIC programs to further develop their English speaking and writing skills during the J-1 program period.
Not Passing
A ‘Not Passing’ rating signifies that the candidate has not yet demonstrated the language skills necessary to fulfill J-1 program duties as an exchange scholar at Penn State. Candidates receiving this score are encouraged to pursue additional English language instruction and practice in their home countries before re-applying for a J-1 Exchange Scholar visa.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) (pdf)