ACTFL Writing Proficiency Test® (WPT)

To take a Demo version of the WPT, click here.

To download an ACTFL WPT Familiarization Manual, click here.

What is the Writing Proficiency Test (WPT)?
What is the format of the WPT?
Taking the WPT
How is the WPT rated?
Who rates the WPT?
How do I request the WPT?
How is the WPT proctored?
What is the cost of the WPT?
In what languages is the WPT available?

What is the ACTFL Writing Proficiency Test (WPT)?

The ACTFL Writing Proficiency Test (WPT) is a standardized test for the global assessment of functional writing ability in a language. The ACTFL writing proficiency test measures 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, Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) Skill Level Descriptors – Writing, or the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), depending on the type of language proficiency certification needed.

The ACTFL WPT is a carefully constructed assessment 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 tasks and contexts presented represent the range of proficiency levels on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines - Writing. The tasks and prompts are written in English with the expectation that the responses be written in the target language.

The ACTFL WPT assesses writing proficiency in terms of the ability of the candidate 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. The ACTFL WPT is not an achievement test assessing a writer's acquisition of specific aspects of course and curriculum content, nor is it tied to any specific method of instruction. The ACTFL WPT does not compare one individual's writing to that of another, but rather evaluates each individual's writing according to the assessment criteria of the rating framework.

The ACTFL WPT is appropriate for a variety of purposes: language fluency certification, employment selection, program entrance and exit exams, placement, college credit, program evaluation and performance, and Translator or Teacher Credentialing. The ACTFL WPT was favorably reviewed and official WPT ratings are recommended for college credit by the American Council on Education.

To download an ACTFL Academic Assessment Catalog for academic institutions, which includes the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012, click here.

To download an LTI Assessment Catalog for Commercial Companies and Government Agencies, which includes the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012, click here.

What is the format of the WPT?

The ACTFL WPT is a proctored, 20 to 80-minute test, depending on the range being assessed. All responses are open-ended and are written in the target language. The WPT 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 separate prompts, each of which encompasses multiple writing tasks, (i.e. descriptive, informative, narrative, and persuasive writing). Each prompt describes the audience, context, and purpose of the writing task. The prompts 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 20 to 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.

Taking the WPT

Before beginning the WPT, test takers complete a Background Survey and a Self-Assessment. They also receive a full overview and explanation of WPT procedures, including a sample test question. These instructions can be delivered in the test taker's native language (English, French, German, Korean, Japanese, Chinese-Mandarin, and Spanish).

Background Survey: Selecting Topics for the Assessment
The Background Survey is a questionnaire, which gathers information about the test taker's work, school, home, personal activities, and interests. The test taker completes the survey and the answers determine the pool of topics from which the computer will randomly select questions. The variety of topics, the types of questions, and the range of possible combinations the computer can generate allow for individually designed interviews. Even if two test takers selected the same combination of Background Survey responses, the resulting test would not be the same.

Self-Assessment: Determining the Level of the WPT
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 describes 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. Candidates needing a rating of Advanced High or Superior should choose statement six.

Example of a Spanish WPT SELF-ASSESSMENT:
WPT Self Assessment

How is the WPT rated?

A WPT can be requested on the ACTFL scale, Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale, or Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). An ACTFL WPT reports a rating between Novice and Superior on the ACTFL scale. An ILR WPT will rate between ILR 0 (No Proficiency) and ILR 5 (Functionally Native). A CEFR WPT reports a rating between A1 and C2.

The WPT assesses language proficiency in terms of the ability of the candidate to use the language effectively and appropriately in real-life situations. It does not address when, where, why, or the way in which a writer has acquired his/her language. The WPT is not an achievement test assessing a writer's acquisition of specific aspects of course and curriculum content, nor is it tied to any specific method of instruction. The WPT does not compare one individual's performance to that of others; rather, it evaluates each individual's performance according to the assessment criteria of the rating framework.

Commercial WPTs are single rated; an ACTFL Certified WPT rater rates the sample by identifying the writing proficiency level criteria met by the candidate's performance.

In an Official/Certified WPT, the WPT is blindly rated by two ACTFL Certified WPT raters whose independent ratings must agree before an official rating is released.

Who rates the WPT?

ACTFL Certified WPT raters are highly specialized language professionals who have completed a rigorous training process that concludes with a rater's demonstrated ability to consistently rate samples with a high degree of reliability.

WPT raters are expected to respect and follow WPT rating protocols, procedures, and guidelines. They comply regularly with ongoing renorming and quality assurance practices. Confidentiality and exclusivity are important practices for all WPT raters. Work with the WPT rating process must be done exclusively through Language Testing International, the ACTFL Testing Office.

How do I request the WPT?

For organizations wanting to schedule a WPT for candidates, you must set up a free account with Language Testing International. We will collect some basic administrative information and then provide access to a secure web-based scheduling utility. Using this utility, the organization can request assessments, track those requests, confirm appointments, and see results. Because the WPT is computer-based, organizations can arrange for candidates to take the assessment in a proctored setting at any time. All that is needed is a computer meeting the minimum specifications, detailed here, in an appropriate test environment. Results of assessments are also posted and stored on the client utility website, allowing organizations to track their testing activity easily in a single location.

Individuals wanting to test and certify their writing ability or literacy in a target language can order and take the assessment by selecting the appropriate Language Proficiency Certification based on their need. To view individual language proficiency certification options, click here. The actual test is taken via a computer with an internet connection, webcam, headset with earphones, and microphone and is proctored via LTI's remote proctoring services.

How is the WPT proctored?

Organization can arrange to proctor WPTs on location. The tests must be proctored by an authorized, responsible individual, ideally a member of the HR department or faculty 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.

Individuals can arrange to take the test via LTI's remote proctoring program, by signing up for one of the Language Proficiency Certification options offered to individuals by LTI. To view individual language proficiency options, click here.

What is the cost of the WPT?

Organizations, please fill out a Contact Us form to receive discounted group or organizational pricing. Government clients can find pricing on our GSA Schedule here.

Individuals can get pricing information by viewing individual language proficiency certifications by clicking here.

In what languages is the WPT available?

Organizations may order the WPT in booklet form. Languages in which booklets are offered include: 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, and Vietnamese.

Most WPTs are administered via the internet. The internet version is the only version available for the Individual Language Proficiency Certification. Languages in which internet WPTs are available include: Arabic, Chinese-Cantonese, Chinese-Mandarin, Danish, English, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and Vietnamese.