Academic English Proficiency Assessment (AEPA)

Academic English Proficiency Assessment — AEPA™:

General Information

The Academic English Proficiency Assessment (AEPA) is an authentic, highly structured English conversation between a prospective University of Chicago student, postdoc, or visitor and an English language specialist. An AEPA typically lasts 15 to 30 minutes and includes an academic role play. The language specialist’s goal is to elicit the test taker’s best possible sample of spoken English in academic context. The language specialist is interested in overall, functional speaking ability rather than only accuracy and grammar.

 Due to the spontaneous and customized nature of the AEPA, there is no official way to study for an AEPA. The AEPA is administered through an online video conferencing system, the details of which is sent to the candidates after the registration. The AEPA is recorded for the Office of Language Assessment, which will have exclusive use of it.

During this assessment, candidates are not allowed to seek assistance from any printed or online materials or from other persons. Any attempt to do so violates the University's policy on Academic Integrity and will be reported to candidate’s department.

Academic English Proficiency Levels

Academic English Proficency Assessment (AEPA) has five main levels as an indicator of the level of candidates' academic English oral proficiency: 

Excellent: Can hypothesize and support abstract opinions across an array of topics using extensive, organized discourse in a manner typical of an academically rigorous environment. May make occasional grammatical errors, but no patterns are present. Pronunciation is easily understandable to all.

  • Click here to listen to a sample performance at this level.


Proficient: Can speak fluently and at length across academic topics. Some breakdown occurs when hypothesizing or supporting an opinion. Grammatical and pronunciation errors are present but do not hinder communication.

  • Click here to listen to a sample performance at this level.


Functional: Speaker may be able to communicate academic ideas in some detail in a limited number of contexts. Language breaks down when discussing abstract or formal topics. Errors in grammar and pronunciation may require repetition or restatement for clarity.

  • Click here to listen to a sample performance at this level.


Basic: Speaker may be able to communicate simple academic ideas, though frequent errors in pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary may require an attentive listener. Speaker cannot support an opinion or hypothesize. Miscommunication may occur as a result of insufficient listening comprehension skills.

  • Click here to listen to a sample performance at this level.


Limited: Does not have functional academic English oral proficiency to successfully complete academic tasks at the University.

  • Click here to listen to a sample performance at this level.


Click here to view the chart representing the AEPA Levels

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