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Virginia Tech J-1 Exchange Visitor English Language Proficiency Interview Policies

Registration and fees

  • Interviews may be requested by filling out an English Language Proficiency Interview Application.
  • Interviews are conducted through video chat or in person by trained language assessment professionals of the Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute.
  • The $100 interview fee is payable by Visa, MasterCard, or American Express via our QuikPay page. Virginia Tech departments may also pay through an interdepartmental service request (ISR) via HokieMart. Departments should make the payment out to Virginia Tech Language and Culture Institute.
  • The interview fee is nonrefundable.
  • Interviews cannot be conducted until registration and payment have been verified. Once that has happened, a member of the assessment team will contact the candidate to arrange an interview date and time. A 30-minute block of time is required for an interview.

About the interview

  • At the beginning of the interview, the interviewer will verify the candidate’s identity by viewing an identification card that has both the candidate’s name in Latin alphabetic script and a recent photo. This is usually done with a passport or other government-issued ID.
  • The candidate should be the only person in the room during a Skype interview. Candidates are forbidden from seeking assistance from others during the interview. If the interviewer concludes that the candidate is receiving help, the interview will end and the fee will be forfeited.
  • The interview takes between 15 and 20 minutes. It combines questions and answers with several language tasks. The interviewer uses a scoring rubric to determine if candidates meet the language proficiency requirements. The types of questions employed are not released before an interview. Once an interview is completed, the interviewer scores the interview and writes a report that is delivered to the sponsoring Virginia Tech department. A detailed official score report is also sent to the candidate.


  • Final scores are assigned using the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) scale. The scale consists of six levels — A1 (the lowest), A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2 (the highest).
  • Virginia Tech requires Level B1 or higher for J-1 exchange visitors who are in the student intern category. Exchange visitors who are in the short-term scholar, research scholar, or professor categories must attain Level B2 or higher.
  • The score, which is non-negotiable and final, is valid for two years from the date of the official score report.

Retaking the interview

  • A candidate who fails to obtain a high enough score may register and pay to retake the test 14 days after the initial test date.
  • A candidate must cancel a scheduled interview at least 24 hours before the agreed-upon time in order to reschedule the interview without forfeiting the fee. An interview canceled more than 24 hours before the interview may be rescheduled at no extra charge; however, the rescheduled date and time may be assigned without consultation of the candidate.

Proficiency scale

Can understand with ease virtually everything heard. Can summarize information in a coherent presentation. Can express himself/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations. Can use vocabulary flexibly and precisely. Can appropriately and naturally use grammatical structures. Pronunciation is precise and poses no problems for the interlocutor. 

Can recognize implicit meaning. Can express himself/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions and only occasional repetition. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic, and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors, and cohesive devices. Can use vocabulary flexibly with some occasional inappropriate wording.

Can understand concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialization. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed speech on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue. Can speak at length, but may show hesitation or exhibit a lack of coherence. May use vocabulary and grammatical structures with limited flexibility. Can usually be understood but has a limited range of pronunciation features.

Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, and leisure. Can deal with most situations likely to arise in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes, and ambitions and can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. May exhibit long pauses and slow speech. May make frequent errors in word and grammatical choices. Frequent mispronunciations may make it difficult for the interlocutor to comprehend intended meaning. The user at this level has mastered the basic structures of the language and is beginning to attempt to produce more complex language. 

Can understand frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance, such as very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, and employment. Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment, and matters in areas of immediate need. May be able to convey only basic meanings often characterized by long pauses. May have insufficient vocabulary and grammar abilities to communicate effectively. Mispronunciations may cause difficulty for the interlocutor.

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce himself/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows, and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help. Little communication may be possible outside of the realms described above. Speech may be intelligible.

Contact us

If you have question about the English requirements, contact the testing and assessment coordinator  at