ACTFL Listening Proficiency Test (LPT)

A proctored, online, proficiency-based test for the global assessment of listening ability in a language

LPT logo header

It is an assessment of the Interpretive Communication Mode as described in the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages. LPTs measure how well a person understands spoken language as described in the ACTFL or ILR rating scales.

The LPT assesses general language proficiency, not what is learned in a specific program, class, school, or university. It is not tied to a particular teaching method or curriculum. Rather than assessing what a person “knows” about the language, the LPT is an assessment of how well a person can understand the spoken language.

Reasons to Use the LPT

Official ACTFL LPT ratings can be used for a variety of purposes in academic, commercial, and government communities. In academia, listening proficiency ratings can be used for admissions, placement into language programs, general assessments, or exit/ graduation requirements. In business and government communities, LPT ratings can be used for certification, hiring, and promotion in multi-lingual positions. Upon completion of an official ACTFL LPT, digital badges, indicating the proficiency range achieved, are available through Credly .


Official ACTFL Listening Proficiency Tests are currently available in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.


The LPT is developed in partnership with the Institute for Test Research and Test Development (ITT). The test presents between 10 to 25 listening passages spoken in the target language being assessed. Listening passages vary in genre, content, length, and complexity depending on the level being assessed. Each passage is followed by three multiple-choice questions, written in the target language. A demo test is available online.

Sample listening passages with rationales for their proficiency levels are available in the LPT Familiarization Guide. Sample audio clips are available in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012- Listening for the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Proficiency Ranges

The ACTFL LPT assesses Interpretive Listening in the target language across the full range of ACTFL Proficiency levels, from Novice to Superior on eight different test forms. A description of the different test forms and their administration time is below.

Other Rating Scales

In addition to the ACTFL Proficiency Rating Scale, rating can also take place using the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR), and the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

Assessment Criteria

Interpretive Listening is based largely on the amount of information listeners can retrieve as well as the inferences and connections they can make from listening to spoken language produced by one or multiple speakers under a variety of circumstances. The ACTFL LPT assesses how well listeners comprehend spoken passages and the listening tasks associated with the different types of passages in a variety of contexts, regardless of where, when, or how the language was acquired.

In assessing listening comprehension, the following criteria are considered:

  • the functions and purposes of the spoken language that the listener comprehends,
  • the content areas and contexts in which the passages are spoken,
  • the text type that the listener can understand in the language,
  • the range of vocabulary and grammatical structures the listener can understand, and
  • the cultural references the listener can understand in the language.

Refer to the LPT Familiarization Guide for detailed information about proficiency levels assessed in each form.


Prior to taking ACTFL’s Listening Proficiency Test (LPT), we suggest the following:

Reliability and Validity

The ACTFL LPT has been extensively validated using content-related, criterion-related, and construct-related evidence. Validity and reliability reports can be found as part of ACTFL’s ACE CREDIT review process. Review the bibliography of ACTFL’s ACE Review studies.