Exam Schedule | Sample Examinations and Test Questions for Prospective Court Interpreters | Exams | Written Test Information | Oral Assessment Information | Advance Preparation | Helpful Tips | Application Form | Scoring of the Exam | Reciprocity
To apply for the Per Diem Court Interpreter examination, you must complete the following online application. After submitting the application, you will immediately receive a confirmation email with information about the scheduling process for the multiple-choice Per Diem Court Interpreter examination.
RECIPROCITY AND EXAM WAIVER
Interpreters possessing out-of-state court interpreter certification(s) may apply for NYS-UCS reciprocity. Please refer to Reciprocity Provisions for more information. Applicants seeking reciprocity or an exam waiver must complete the online application and the Exam Waiver/Reciprocity Form.
All candidates are required to pass a multiple-choice written examination assessing English Language Proficiency and basic Legal Terminology, which covers the following areas: Reading and Understanding Written Material - Sentence Completion and Paragraph Comprehension; Grammar and Language Usage; Vocabulary - Synonyms and Antonyms; Idiomatic Expressions; and, Legal Terminology.
- Sample Written Test of English Proficiency-for Languages Other than Spanish
The Written Exam (for all languages OTHER THAN SPANISH) assesses applicants' English language proficiency and knowledge of legal terminology.
- Sample Test Questions for Written Examination (SPANISH interpreters only)
These questions assess applicants' language proficiency in both English and Spanish, and knowledge of legal terminology.
Candidates who are successful in this examination are then invited to take an oral examination which is currently administered in the following languages: Albanian, Arabic, BCS (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian), Bengali, Cantonese, French, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Urdu, Vietnamese and Wolof. Candidates interested in interpreting languages that are not listed above are required to submit appropriate professional references related to their interpreting skills.
- Practice Video for Oral Language Exam — sections III-VI Spanish (Transcript)
The Oral Exam assesses applicants' ability to interpret in various modes, i.e., sight, consecutive, and simultaneous in the six sections of the exam. Although this video is for the Spanish language only, the format is similar for exams in other languages.
- Oral Language Exam, sample Sight Translations — sections I-II, Spanish
The interpreter is given a written document in one language and asked to read it aloud in another language
For additional information on preparation tools for interpreters go to: http://www.nycourts.gov/COURTINTERPRETER/links.shtml
Candidates who Passed the Examination for Court Interpreter, Spanish (eligible list # 45-788):
Candidates who passed this exam will be eligible for available staff interpreter positions within the Unified Court System (UCS), and have been provided with information about this, by the UCS Division of Human Resources. Candidates who passed the exam may also be eligible for inclusion on the New York State Registry of Per Diem Court Interpreters and provide interpreting services, on an as-needed, freelance basis. Per diem court interpreters are called based on the language needs of the courts, and are paid $170 for a half-day (up to four hours) or $300 for a full day. The per diem opportunity is voluntary, and has no impact on one's status on the current eligible list, which is canvassed for employee (staff) positions.
Candidates who wish to be listed on the Registry as a Per Diem (freelance) court interpreter are required to be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check. To begin this process, forward a copy of the Examination Results Notice you received from the UCS, indicating your passing score and general rank on the eligible list to:
NYS Unified Court System
Office of Language Access (OLA)
Division of Professional and Court Services
25 Beaver St, 7th floor
New York, NY 10004
Upon receipt of your Passing Notice (for eligible list # 45-788), the Office of Language Access (OLA) will send you additional information on the fingerprinting process and requirements.
Contact OLA with any questions, at 646-386-5670 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interpreter candidates are required to pass a multiple-choice written examination assessing English Language Proficiency and basic Legal Terminology, which covers the following areas: Reading and Understanding Written Material - Sentence Completion and Paragraph Comprehension; Grammar and Language Usage; Vocabulary - Synonyms and Antonyms; Idiomatic Expressions; and, Legal Terminology.
Candidates who are successful on this written examination are then invited to take an oral examination, currently administered in the following languages: Albanian, Arabic, BCS (Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian), Bengali, Cantonese, French, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Urdu, Vietnamese and Wolof. Candidates interested in interpreting languages that are not listed above are required to submit appropriate professional references related to their interpreting skills.
The date(s) for the Court Interpreter-Spanish (open competitive) exam, when scheduled, will be posted online at: https://www.nycourts.gov/careers/exams.shtml
Applications for Spanish court interpreter testing, including per diem, will be accepted only during the filing period listed on the examination announcement.
For additional information on the open competitive exam, contact the Civil Service Administration Unit: CivilServiceAdmin@nycourts.gov
The Nature of the Written Test and Oral Performance Language Assessment
To be a qualified service provider, candidates must demonstrate sufficient language competency by passing the appropriate form of the Written Test and the Oral Performance Language Assessment as described herein.
Written Test (Spanish/English)
This written test is a multiple-choice format examination designed to assess English and Spanish language proficiency involving grammar, vocabulary, word usage and reading comprehension. Due to the high frequency of use of this language, this examination also has a component where the candidate is required to accurately identify a written translation in Spanish of a selection presented in English and vice versa. Candidates are allowed 90 minutes to complete this examination and must obtain a passing score on the examination.
Written Test (English Proficiency Only)
for all languages except Spanish
This written test is multiple-choice format examination designed to assess English Language Proficiency and Legal Terminology. The examination consists of 75 items, and you will have an hour and a half (90 minutes) to complete the written examination. The examination is designed to assess the following areas: Reading and Understanding Written Material - Sentence Completion and Paragraph Comprehension; Grammar and Language Usage; Vocabulary - Synonyms and Antonyms; Idiomatic Expressions and Legal Terminology.
MORE ABOUT THE WRITTEN TEST:
Oral Performance Language Assessment
The Oral Performance Language Assessment is based on material which Court Interpreters typically encounter in courtroom situations. The examination is approximately one hour in duration. The exam consists of the following six (6) sections:
1. English Sight Translation
2. Foreign Language Sight Translation
3. Consecutive Question and Answer (English and the Foreign Language)
4. One-Voice Simultaneous (English)
5. One-Voice Simultaneous (Foreign Language)
6. Two-Voice Simultaneous (English)
More About the Oral Performance Language Assessment
The first two sections of this exam, the sight translations, are not on videotape. The other sections are all on the videotape with one or two people speaking in a simulated courtroom situation. You will be instructed before each section as to the mode of interpreting required, that is whether you are to do consecutive or simultaneous interpreting.
You are required to orally translate everything spoken in English into the foreign language and everything spoken in the foreign language into English. All of your responses will be tape-recorded (audiotape only, not video). You will be asked to speak clearly into a microphone in a normal tone of voice. Once the examination has started the tape cannot be stopped. Please remember that you should keep going even if you miss some words. A few errors will not keep you from obtaining a passing score.
The most important consideration for court interpretation is accuracy. You should not summarize, but strive for thoroughness. Idioms should be translated appropriately to convey their meaning, not literally. Proper names should not be translated but left in their original language. Interpreters should strive to maintain the same register when interpreting from one language to another. Register refers to the level of language used, such as formal, conversational or slang. Formal, official language with more complex syntax and vocabulary in English should be preserved when put into the foreign language.
If you wish to take written notes to aid you during the oral exam, the monitor will provide blank paper. All notes must be returned to the monitor at the end of the testing session. Note taking is not permitted during the sight translations.
Qualifications for Interpreters of Languages in Which the UCS does not Currently have an Oral Performance Assessment
Following a successful performance on the required written test of English Language Proficiency and Legal Terminology, you must submit at least three (3) professional references, for each language in which you wish to be qualified to provide interpreting services.
–Specifically attest to your interpreting skills and/or language proficiency in the particular language.
–Include addresses and corresponding phone numbers where these individuals may be reached during normal business hours.
References from UCS personnel are not accepted. Subject to the verification of submitted references (and fingerprinting, as required of all court interpreters), you may be qualified to provide interpretation services.
Note: If an oral examination is incorporated into the Language Assessment Testing Program at a later date, you will be asked to participate and pass such a test in order to remain eligible to provide court interpreting services.
You may also refer to the Reciprocity Provisions for the Per Diem Assignment Registry for other certifications accepted by the Unified Court System.
Court Interpreting for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Although the Unified Court System does not test for proficiency in American Sign Language, the Chief Administrative Judge has established the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc (RID) as a recognized credentialing authority.
Interpreters holding this credential may be placed on the NYS Registry of Per Diem Court Interpreters and provide court interpreting services after successfully undergoing the required criminal background investigation.
If you feel that you wish to improve your interpreting skills, there are several ways you can practice. Consider the following:
-Work on expanding your vocabulary in English and the second language.
-Practice memory-building techniques to improve your ability to retain information.
-Practice note taking to facilitate retention of numbers, dates and addresses.
-Try sight translating written documents or magazine articles.
-Practice doing consecutive and simultaneous interpreting of radio or television programs.
To improve your knowledge of court-related legal terminology there are many excellent glossaries and other resources available to interpreters in publications and on organizational websites, visit Office of Language Access Resources web page for more information.
If you are not familiar with courtroom proceedings, you might want to visit a courthouse and observe a trial in session. Another possibility is to watch actual televised courtroom trials or programs that dramatize courtroom situations, and practice interpreting the content. There are many excellent books available about court interpreting and the skills needed to do it well. Check with your local public library for recommended titles.
Familiarize yourself with general test procedures and study guides, such as:
Gather the materials you will need for the test site such as your admission letter, picture identification, and instructions for getting to the test site. Plan to arrive at the test site 15 minutes early. At some locations, you will have to go through a magnetometer (metal detector) before going to the exam room.
There will be an identification form to fill out prior to the test.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN APPLYING TO BE A PER DIEM COURT INTERPRETER, FILL OUT THE ONLINE APPLICATION.
Scoring of the Examination
It is necessary to pass both the written and the oral portions of the examination. Candidates that are unsuccessful on these exams will not be afforded the opportunity to retest for a minimum of one year.
Your performance on the oral assessment will be evaluated by a professional bilingual expert rater, based upon the accuracy and completeness of your interpretations. The rater does not know the names of the candidates whose responses they are scoring.
If you successfully pass the Written Test, the Oral Performance Language Assessment, and/or submit the appropriate references, as applicable, you will be contacted by the Office of Court Administration to arrange for fingerprinting before a local police/court agency authorized to perform fingerprinting; there is a fee for this criminal history investigation. All voucher-paid interpreters must successfully undergo a criminal history investigation before accepting court interpreting assignments and participate in an ethics training seminar when offered. All court interpreters are required to meet the minimum educational qualifications of a High School Diploma or the Equivalent, and have a legal right to work in the United States. Upon successful completion of this process your name will be added to the NYS Registry of Per Diem Court Interpreters and forwarded to the courts.