For interpreters

How to get certified

Step 3: Oral examination


To be eligible to take the oral exam, individuals must have completed orientation training and passed the written examination. The oral test is the most important requirement for becoming a certified court interpreter. To pass the oral exam, interpreters must possess a mastery of the English language and the target language equivalent to a highly educated native speaker, and have a thorough understanding of legal concepts in both languages. In addition, interpreters must be extremely proficient in specialized cognitive skills required to interpret in sight, consecutive, and simultaneous modes, and be able to convey messages accurately, completely and promptly.

Court interpreter oral exam overview Adobe PDF (external link)

Self-assessment: Are you ready to take the oral examination? Adobe PDF (external link)

Available languages

A full oral examination is available in the following languages: Arabic, Cantonese, French, Haitian Creole, Hmong, Ilocano, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. An abbreviated oral examination is available in the following languages: Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian (BSC), Marshallese, and Turkish.

Candidates who speak languages where no oral certification examination exists may take an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) if one is available. Learn more about OPIs.

Oral examination description

Sight translation: For this part of the exam, the candidate is asked to read a document written in English, while interpreting it aloud into the target language, and to read a document written in the target language, while interpreting it aloud in English. Each document is approximately 225 words in length. The candidate is given 6 minutes per document to review the content and perform the sight translation while being recorded.

Consecutive: During this segment of the exam, the candidate listens to a recording of an English-speaking attorney who is questioning a non-English speaking witness. The candidate must interpret aloud the English questions into the target language and the witness' answers into English while being recorded. The questions and answers are of various lengths ranging from one word to a maximum of 50 words. The candidate is given between 22-27 minutes (depending upon the language) to complete this portion of the test.

Simultaneous: With this part of the exam, the candidate listens to a recording in English of an attorney's opening statement or closing argument to a jury or judge. This passage is recorded at a speed of 120 words per minute and is approximately 900 words in length. The speech continues for about 7 to 10 minutes without stopping. While listening through headphones, the candidate simultaneously interprets aloud all statements into the target language while being recorded. This segment takes about 12 minutes total including instructions and equipment preparation.

2016 Oral Exam Schedule (Fee: $250)

Location Oral exam dates Registration deadline Fee deadline
Madison Tuesday, March 8 & Wednesday, March 9 Monday, February 1 Monday, February 15
Madison Tuesday, June 28 & Wednesday, June 29 Monday, May 23 Monday, June 6
Madison Tuesday, November 29 & Wednesday, November 30 Monday, October 24 Monday, November 7

Registering for the oral examination

Test candidates must register for the oral test at least five weeks prior to the test date. The fee for taking the complete examination is $250 and must be received in full by the corresponding deadline in order to hold the testing slot. The oral examination fee for out-of-state residents who did not begin the certification process in Wisconsin is $400. You may register for a one-hour test slot using the preferred method of e-mail to or by calling (608) 266-8635. There is no application form for the oral examination. Test candidates registering for the oral test should be prepared to provide a first preference and second preference for an oral test slot. Slots will be held on a first-come, first-serve basis so early registration is recommended.

Reciprocity with other tests

Interpreters who have passed the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination (FCICE) or the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) examination may be exempt from taking the oral test and should inquire with our office about reciprocity.

For more information on eligibility and registration of the oral test, please contact or call (608) 266-8635.

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