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The Graduate Student Instructor Oral English Test (GSI OET) is a procedure for testing the spoken English of prospective graduate student instructors whose undergraduate education was at an institution in which the language of instruction is not English. The evaluation procedure is a performance test that consists of four tasks that assess a test taker’s competence and effectiveness in the type of communication typically used by GSIs at the University of Michigan.

The test evaluates proficiency at the high intermediate to advanced level. The tasks and evaluation criteria of the GSI OET also serve as diagnostic tools to identify linguistic strengths and weaknesses of a test taker. A rating of B or higher is required to be approved for an appointment as a GSI.

Test Format


  • is semi‐structured
  • is face‐to‐face
  • involves 1 test taker
  • involves 2–3 evaluators (senior, junior, and optional faculty)
  • contains 4 scored tasks (Warm‐Up, Lesson Presentation, Office‐Hour Role Play, Video Questions)
  • lasts 14–15 minutes
  • is audiotaped for quality assurance purposes

Read a description of the different tasks for the GSI OET.

Rating Guidelines

Evaluators rate test takers in real time. During the test, each evaluator writes comments based on the evaluation criteria (PDF). At the end of the test, the test taker leaves the room and each evaluator independently rates the prospective GSI using the holistic rating scale (PDF). Evaluators then discuss the linguistic strengths and weaknesses of the test taker to reach a final rating.

Recently, the scores have changed from numeric to alpha scores; however, the English language proficiency required to pass the test has not changed. The table below will help compare the old scores with the new scores.

GSI OET Scores pre-2013 GSI OET Scores as of 2013 Eligible to Teach?
5 A (high pass) Yes
4+ A (high pass) Yes
4 B (pass) Yes
4- C (fail) No
3+ D (fail) No
3 D (fail) No
3- D (fail) No
  • A test taker’s performance on the entire test is evaluated.
  • All tasks are taken into consideration, which means that a test taker does not pass or fail the test based on performance on only one task.
  • The tasks are not rated separately.
  • Test takers are not rated relative to each other.
  • Test takers’ ability to teach is not rated.
  • A single, final rating is given.
  • A test report is sent to departments within 48 hours of test administration. View a sample test report (PDF).

Video of Sample Tasks

A complete GSI OET with performance commentary of a B-level performance is available below. A full transcript of the audio commentary (PDF) is also available. 


Sample Questions and Possible Responses

Video clips are available for seven additional sample questions for the GSI OET. Please keep in mind that these are not the exact questions that appear on the test and that the responses given here are not the only possible responses. Notice, though, how each response is expanded beyond a simple “yes” or “no” and clearly shows that the listener has understood the question. These samples are intended to help you familiarize yourself with the format of the test.

Scheduling a GSI OET

Tests are scheduled by the departments where the prospective GSI will work. The department arranges test dates and times with CaMLA and notifies students of the testing schedule. For further information about the GSI OET, contact gsioet@cambridgemichigan.org.

Interested in becoming an examiner for the GSI OET? CaMLA is currently seeking speaking examiners in the Ann Arbor, Michigan, area.