How to get certified
Step 2: Written examination
The written examination is the second step towards achieving certification and is generally offered four weeks after orientation. Interpreter candidates must have completed the two-day orientation to be eligible to take the written examination. The written examination serves as a screening test to determine eligibility to sit for the oral examination.
The test is in English and consists of two components: 1) multiple-choice test and 2) written language assessment. The multiple-choice part is comprised of 135 questions covering general English proficiency, court-related terms and usage, and ethics/professional conduct. Doing well on the written examination does not indicate a person is a certified interpreter. A candidate must pass either the multiple choice test OR the written language assessment in order to be eligible to take the oral examination which is considered in Step 3 in the certification process. A candidate may sign up for either the multiple choice test or the written language assessment or both.
The multiple-choice test measures interpreter candidates' knowledge of three areas central to the work of a court interpreter at the level of a minimally qualified court interpreter:
1. English language. To function as a professional court interpreter, one indispensable component is a high degree of proficiency in the English language. Accordingly, the written examination assumes a high degree of literacy in the English language and familiarity with a range of language constructions. It tests comprehension of written English vocabulary and idioms.
- Sentence completion (choosing the appropriate word to finish a sentence): Items 1-9
- Synonyms in context (choosing the word/phrase closest to an chosen word/phrase): Items 10-17
- Synonyms (choosing the word/phrase closest in meaning to the chosen word/phrase): Items 18-38
- Antonyms (choosing the word/phrase opposite in meaning to the chosen word/phrase): Items 39-50
- Idioms (choosing the phrase that is closest in meaning to the underlined idiom in the idiom): Items 51-75
2. Court-related terms and usage. A second area of knowledge essential to successful professional performance is familiarity with the terminology and procedures of the court system. Accordingly, the written examination also measures recognition of common court-related situations and vocabulary, especially in the area of criminal courts.
- Sentence completion (choosing the most appropriate phrase to complete the sentence): Items 76-111
- Court related questions (choosing the best answer to the question given): Items 112-121
- Sequences (choosing the correct order in which certain court events occur): Items 122-125
3. Ethics and professional conduct. The third area of knowledge required of professional court interpreters encompassed in the written test is general knowledge of standards guiding the performance of duties. Accordingly, the written exam includes questions aimed at measuring candidates' knowledge of ethical behavior and professional conduct.
- Professional conduct questions (choosing the best answer to the question given): Items 126-127
- Scenarios (choosing the best response for an interpreter in this situation): Items 128-135
This exam was developed by the National Center for State Courts Consortium for Language Access in the Courts (CLAC).
Time allotted for written test: 2 hours and 15 minutes -- Passing score: 80%
Written language assessment
The written language assessment measures interpreter candidates' ability to translate English into their target language. It consists of translation of ten items, which are two to three sentences in length. The language is typical of lay witness testimony.
Time allotted for written language assessment: 1 hour -- Scored: Pass/Fail