Writing Proficiency Test® (WPT)

To take a demonstration version of the WPT in Spanish, click here and leave the username and password blank.

To download an ACTFL WPT Familiarization Manual, click here.

What are the Writing Proficiency Tests (WPT) and the Business Writing Tests for Professionals (BWT)?
What is the format of the Writing Proficiency Test?
How are the Writing Proficiency Tests rated?
Who conducts and rates the Writing Proficiency Test?
How reliable is the Writing Proficiency Test?
How do I request a Writing Test?
How are the Writing Tests proctored?
What is the cost of a Writing Test?
In what languages are the Writing Proficiency Tests available?

What are the Writing Proficiency Tests and the Business Writing Tests?

The Business Writing Test (BWT) and the general Writing Proficiency Test (WPT) are standardized tests for the global assessment of functional writing ability in a language. The ACTFL writing proficiency tests measure how well a person spontaneously writes in a language (without access to revisions and/or editing tools) by comparing his/her performance of specific writing tasks with the criteria stated in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines – Writing.

ACTFL writing tests are carefully constructed assessments with four to five requests for written responses dealing with practical, social, and/or professional topics that are encountered in informal and formal contexts. The writer is presented with tasks and contexts that represent the range of proficiency levels on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines Writing – 2012. The tasks and prompts are written in English with the expectation that the responses be written in the target language.

ACTFL writing tests assess writing proficiency in terms of the ability to write effectively and appropriately for real-life writing purposes. They do not address when, where, why, or the way in which an individual learned to write. ACTFL writing tests are not an achievement test assessing a writer’s acquisition of specific aspects of course and curriculum content, nor are they tied to any specific method of instruction. ACTFL writing tests do not compare one individual’s writing to another individual’s writing, but rather compares each individual’s writing to the descriptors for writing.

What is the format of the Writing Proficiency Test?

ACTFL writing proficiency tests are proctored, 20-80 minute tests depending on the range being assessed. All responses are open-ended and are written in the target language. The writing proficiency tests can be written using paper and pencil format or using a computer accessing the Internet.

  • Introduction and Warm-up: This section contains directions, information on test-taking strategies, and a warm-up activity at the Novice level. Directions are also made available in advance of the scheduled testing time. All directions and prompts are written in English. Special accommodations may be requested when directions and prompts need to be provided in a language other than English.
  • Writing Prompt: There are four (WPT) or five (BWT) separate requests, each of which encompasses multiple writing tasks, (i.e. descriptive, informative, narrative, and persuasive writing). Each request describes the audience, context, and purpose of the writing task. The prompts that are presented to the writer are designed to elicit writing at the Intermediate, Advanced and Superior levels, across a variety of contexts and content areas. Each request also describes the suggested length of the response (i.e., several sentences, multiple paragraphs, etc.) and suggests a time allotment (i.e., 10 minutes, 20 minutes, etc.) for completing the response to that specific request. The total time to read the directions and complete all the writing tasks is eighty (80) minutes.
  • For some versions of the WPT, the candidate will be asked to complete a Background Survey and Self Assessment.   The responses to these two sections ensure that each test taker receives a customized and unique test.

Background Survey: The candidate will answer questions about their education or work history, their hobbies and past times and special areas of interest. Their answers will be used by the system to select prompts from topics relevant to the test taker for portions of the test.

Self Assessment:  Six different descriptions of how well a person can write in a language are presented and the test taker selects the description they feel most accurately describe their writing ability. This determines which one of three WPT test forms  is generated for the individual.  Candidates who need a rating of Intermediate High or higher should choose statement five or six. This is indicated on the Self Assessment seen by the candidate at test time.


Your response to this Self Assessment will be used to generate an individual test. Please read the 6-level descriptions and then choose the level that best describes how you write in that language.


How are the Writing Tests rated?

The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines – Writing provide the basis for assigning a global rating, assigned by ACTFL Certified Raters. Patterns of strength and weakness in accomplishing the writing tasks are established by the rater. The writing performance is first placed within a major range and then matched to the sub-level description.

ACTFL writing tests are integrative tests, i.e., they address a number of abilities simultaneously and look at them from a global perspective rather than from the point of view of the presence or absence of any given linguistic feature. Linguistic components are viewed from the wider perspective of how they contribute to the overall written sample. In evaluating writing, the following criteria are considered:

• the writing tasks or functions the writer performs,
• the social contexts and specific content areas within which the writer is able to perform the tasks,
• the accuracy of the writing, and
• the length and organization of the written text the writer is capable of producing.

Who conducts and rates the Writing Proficiency Tests?

ACTFL trained and certified BWT/WPT raters are highly specialized language and/or writing professionals who have completed a rigorous training process that concludes with a demonstrated ability to consistently rate writing samples with a high degree of reliability. ACTFL Certified Raters uphold the highest professional and ethical standards in test rating. ACTFL Trainers continuously monitor the ratings of ACTFL Certified Raters as a part of the ongoing quality assurance program, and all raters participate in ongoing ACTFL sponsored re-norming and rater refresher activities.

How reliable is the Writing Proficiency Test?

WPT rating is consistently monitored and reviewed as part of LTI’s quality assurance program.

How do I request a Writing Test?

To schedule a Writing Test, your organization needs an account. Language Testing International will provide a free, internet based client site. Using this utility, the organization can request assessments, track those requests, confirm appointments and see results.

For the computer-based WPT, the test taker will need access to a secure computer which meets the minimum requirements detailed here. The Writing Tests can also be delivered in a paper-and-pen format.

Results of assessments are posted and stored on the client utility website, allowing organizations to track their testing activity easily in a single location.

How are the Writing Tests proctored?

WPTs must be proctored by an approved proctor, ideally a member of the HR department of the organization requesting the assessment. This individual, nominated by the organizing agency, will sign a form and provide it to LTI in advance of the assessment, undertaking to guarantee the identity of the candidate and the conditions under which the test is taken.

What is the cost of a Writing Test?

Please contact us for commercial pricing. Federal Government and other qualified buyers can see our GSA Schedule here.

In what languages are the Writing Tests available?

  • Writing Proficiency Test/Business Writing Test (WPT/BWT)

Paper & Pen:   Albanian, Arabic, Chinese-Cantonese, Chinese-Mandarin, English, French, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian/Croatian, Spanish, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese

Internet:  Arabic, Chinese-Cantonese, Chinese-Mandarin, *Danish, English, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, *Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, *Swedish, Turkish and Vietnamese

*Available to corporate accounts only.

Computer-based WPT may require use of a dedicated keyboard in the language.

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