How to get certified: Written examination

  • 1
    Two-day orientation
  • 2
    Written examination
  • 3
    Oral examination
  • 4
    Other requirements

The written examination is the second step towards achieving certification and is generally offered four to five 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 which is considered step 3 in the certification process.

Developed by the National Center for State Courts, it consists of 135 multiple-choice questions covering general English proficiency, court-related terms and usage, and ethics/professional conduct.

Overview of the Written Examination for Candidates - Council of Language Access Coordinators Adobe PDF

Written exam description

The multiple-choice questions measure a candidate's knowledge of three areas central to the work of a 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 English 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

Time allotted for written test: 2 hours and 15 minutes—Passing score: 108 out of 135 scoring units correct or 80%

2020 Written examination dates and locations

(Fee: $50 for first-time test takers or $25 for repeat test takers)

Due to the public health emergency for the State of Wisconsin in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Waukesha and Wisconsin Rapids written exams are canceled.
Location Date Application & Fee Deadline
Waukesha May 1 (canceled) Apr 24
Wisconsin Rapids Jul 10 (canceled) Jul 3
Madison
(limited to 9 people)
Oct 28 Oct 22
Madison
(limited to 9 people)
Oct 29 Oct 22

The schedule for the written exam at each location is as follows:

  • 9:15 am-9:40 am—Registration
  • 9:40 am-9:45 am—Instructions
  • 9:45 am-12:00 pm—Exam
  • Once a candidate registers for the test, specific protocols on social distancing requirements will be sent. Please note that face masks will be required at all times once inside the building.

Registering for the written examination

To register for the written test, submit the written examination application and fee of $50 for first-time test takers or $25 for repeat test-takers by the corresponding deadline. Walk-ins are not allowed. A confirmation e-mail with logistical information will be sent to you prior to the testing date. If you do not have an e-mail address, a confirmation notice will be sent by US postal service to the most current mailing address on file.

Retaking the written test

If a candidate does not pass the test and wishes to retake it, he/she must wait a minimum period of six (6) months.

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