Licensed Court Interpreters

Exams 

Exam Information

Candidates to become Licensed Court Interpreters must take written and oral examinations which are developed by the Language Access Services Section (LASS) of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). The written examination measures the candidates' English comprehension and knowledge of court terms. The oral examination measures the candidates' interpreting skills and is given at one sitting in three parts which are recorded.

A self-assessment and study tools for court interpreter candidates can be found on the NCSC web site.

 <<Return to Top>>

Exam Languages & Other Information

The National Center for State Courts offers examinations that are developed by NCSC. Currently examinations are developed for the following languages.

*= Abbreviated examination

  • Arabic
  • *Bosnian / Croatian / Serbian
  • Cantonese
  • French
  • Haitian-Creole
  • Hmong
  • Ilocano
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Laotian
  • Mandarin
  • *Marshallese
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • *Turkish
  • Tagalog
  • Vietnamese

To become licensed in a language other than those shown above, please contact the JBCC staff after you have received notice that you passed the written examination. 

If you have already taken an interpreting exam, you may qualify for licensure by endorsement if you have taken the exam offered by the following entities:

  1. Member states of the National Center for State Courts,
  2. National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT),
  3. Federal Court Interpreter Certification.

Please contact the JBCC staff for further information on seeking licensure by endorsement.

<<Return to Top>>

License Upgrade and Adding a Language

If you wish to upgrade your license from Basic to Master or if you wish to add a language, you must complete the Application for License Upgrade/Additional Language on the Forms page of our website.  You must re-take the oral examination for an upgrade, and take the oral examination for the additional language. 

Exam Dates & Locations

Registration deadlines for the written exam are 21 days before the exam date. This is not a postmark date; your registration form and payment must be in our office by the deadline.

Registration for the written exam is on a first come, first served basis. 20 examinees can be accommodated at one time. If your registration is received after the maximum number of registrants has been met, you will be given an alternate time on the published exam date, or an alternate location on the published exam date,or an alternate time and location on the published exam date, or you will be registered for the next exam. 

Registration deadlines for the oral exam are 35 days before the exam date. This is not a postmark date; your registration form and payment must be in our office by the deadline. 

Registration for the oral exams is on a first come, first served basis. 12 examinees can be accommodated per day. The date listed below is the first day the exam is given; oral exams are offered over one, two or three days, depending on the number registrants whose forms and payment are received by the deadline. If your registration is received after the maximum number of registrants has been met, you will be registered for the next scheduled exam date. The Certification Divisions staff will assign your date, time, and location for the oral exam. Please read your notice carefully to ensure you arrive on the correct date and time and at the correct location.

Exam dates for the remainder of 2016 and 2017 are listed below. Additional dates may be added, per calendar year, once confirmed.

REMEMBER: the registration deadline is not a postmark date; your registration form and payment must be in our office by the date shown.

Written Exam Dates
Date Time Location Registration Deadline
11/15/2016   1:30 PM  Austin, TX 10/25/2016
02/14/2017  1:30 PM  Austin, TX 01/24/82017
05/16/2017   1:30 PM  Austin, TX 04/25/2017 
08/15/2017 1:30 PM Austin, TX 07/25/2017
11/14/2017 1:30 PM Austin, TX 10/24/2017

.

Oral Exam Dates
Date Time Location Registration Deadline
 11/16/2016 Various   Austin, TX 10/12/2016 
02/15/2017 Various Austin, TX 01/11/2017
05/17/2017 Various Austin, TX 04/12/2017
08/16/2017 Various Austin, TX 07/12/2017
11/15/2017 Various Austin, TX 10/11/2017

 

Exam Procedures

 Before the Exam

  1. Applicants register for the exam with the JBCC by the established deadline date. This means that your completed paperwork must be at the JBCC office by close of business on that date. If there are any insufficiencies with your paperwork, you will be notified via email. Insufficiencies must be resolved by the established exam deadline date; otherwise, you will not be able to take the exam.
  2. You will receive confirmation that you've been registered for the exam, as well as the date, time, and location of the exam, via email. Any questions regarding your registration must be submitted to courtinterpreters@txcourts.gov.

Form Requirements

First-Time Applicants:

Mail the items below to: JBCC, Attn: Licensed Court Interpreters, to the address indicated on the form.

  1. Application for Licensure (with the app fee),
  2. Exam Registration Form (with the exam fee),
  3. Pre-Orientation Course Completion Certificate, and
  4. Copy of fingerprinting receipt (after you've been fingerprinted).

Oral Exam Applicants and Applicants re-taking the Written Exam:

Mail the items below to: JBCC, Attn: Licensed Court Interpreters, to the address indicated on the form.

  1. Exam Registration Form (with the exam fee).

Forms are to be obtained from the Exam Forms section on the Forms page of our web site.

ADA Accommodations. Upon request, reasonable accommodations will be made for ADA conditions. Send your request for accommodation to the JBCC as far in advance as possible, but at least thirty days in advance of the exam date. Requests received less than thirty days before the exam date cannot be honored. Your request for accommodation may accompany your exam paperwork, or may be sent separately. Either way, the request for accommodation is subject to the thirty days in advance of the exam date deadline.

In the event of an emergency that prevents you from taking the exam as scheduled, contact our office, in writing, as soon as possible. Arrangements will be made for you to take the next available scheduled exam, and no additional payment will be due.

Please notify us, in writing, as far in advance as you can - three business days if possible - ahead of the exam date if you have registered for an exam and know you will not be able to make it. If timely notice is received, you will be placed on the list to take the next available scheduled exam. No additional payment will be due.

Exam Day

Reporting to the Exam Site

On the day of the examination, you should arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time. This allows time for sign-in and identification verification. NO conversing or any other form of communication among candidates is permitted once you enter the examination area. If you arrive late, you will NOT be admitted to the examination site, and will be placed on the list to take the next available scheduled exam. No additional payment will be due.

Required Identification at Exam Site

You must provide one form of identification. The identification must be a valid form of government-issued identification for example, driver's license, state ID, or passport, which bears your printed name, photograph, signature, date of birth, and expiration date. Identification provided must match all information provided to the JBCC upon eligibility. If your ID does not contain the required information, you may be asked to provide other forms of valid identification to confirm your identity.

An expired driver's license will be accepted if accompanied by a valid Texas Department of Public Safety temporary permit. Likewise, the temporary permits must be accompanied by the expired DPS driver's license.

If you cannot provide the required identification, you must call our office at least 3 weeks prior to the exam date to arrange a way to meet this security requirement. If you fail to provide the required identification at the time of the examination, will NOT be admitted to the examination site, and will be placed on the list to take the next available scheduled exam. No additional payment will be due.

Taking the Exam

Depending on the location of the exam, street parking may be limited, designated visitor parking may be several blocks away, and you may have to clear building security before you can proceed to the exam room. Please be sure to allow adequate time.

Exam Security

The following security procedures will apply during the examination:

• While at the examination site, you are considered to be a professional and shall be treated as such. In turn, you must conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times. While at the site, you shall not use words or take actions that are vulgar, obscene, libelous, or that would denigrate the staff or other candidates. You must adhere to all policies and standards to ensure that all candidates have a pleasant and professional examination experience. If you fail to comply with these policies, you will have your examination results disqualified and will forfeit your examination fee.
• NO conversing or any other form of communication among candidates is permitted once you enter the examination area.
• Cell phones, pagers, PDAs, cameras, notes, electronic devices, and recording devices, of any kind are NOT allowed at the examination site. Additionally, guest visitors and/or family members are not allowed at the examination site. NO personal items are to enter the examination site. Staff will not be responsible for any personal items, and suggests that you leave such items in a safe place of your choosing.
• No smoking, eating, or drinking will be allowed at the examination site.
• Copying or communicating examination content is a violation of the security policy and Texas State Law. Either one may result in the disqualification of examination results and may lead to legal action.

After the Exam

  1. JBCC will email results to applicants following the timelines established in the JBCC Rules (See Exam Results section below). This will serve as official notification of your exam results. Any questions regarding your exam results must be submitted to courtinterpreters@txcourts.gov.
  2. Results will be sent using the confidential exam number given to applicants at the exam site.
  3. Successful applicants will receive a license in the mail.

Exam Results

The emailing of scores will serve as official notification of your test results. You may save the results from if you'd like to maintain a copy of your scores.

Section 3.11 (a)-(b) of the JBCC Rules states that results are to be issued not later than the 30th day after the exam date or not later than the 30th day after the date the commission receives the results from the testing service.

Section 3.11 (b) (2) of the rules states that if results will be delayed longer than 90 days after the exam date, the commission is to notify person(s) of the reason for the delay before the 90th day. Please note that any notifications of delay will be posted on the exam page of our website.

Section 9.3 (e) of the of the rules states that applicants who fail the exam must wait six months before re-examination; therefore, any applicant who fails the exam cannot re-register for the exam more than 30 days before the next eligible exam date. For example, if you test in September of 2015 and fail, and the next exam you're eligible for is in March of 2016, the earliest you can re-apply is February of 2016.

Note: It is possible that results may not be available prior to the exam eligibility deadline for the next exam. We strongly advise non first-time applicants not to hold off on applying for the next exam until results are issued as this may prevent you from being eligible for the next exam if for any reason you should have to re-test.

For purposes of maintaining the confidentiality of your test results, the JBCC does not provide results by phone. Furthermore, we will not release results to 3rd parties.

Upon receipt of your written request we may proceed accordingly via written response to the (mailing or email) address or fax number currently on file.

Written exam applicants must pass with a score of at least 80%.

Oral exam applicants must pass all three parts of the oral examination scoring at least 60% on each part for a Basic designation license, or scoring at least 70% on each part for a Master designation license.

<<Return to Top>>

Oral Exam

Part 1 - Sight Interpretation

You will be given six minutes to review and interpret a typewritten page from English into the target language.

You will be given six minutes to review and interpret a typewritten page from the target language into English.

The exercises outlined below will help you develop skills in sight translation. Practice them in all your working languages.

Part 2 - Consecutive Interpretation

You will be given from 22 to 30 minutes to complete this portion of the exam (depending on the length of the recording). This part of the examination is administered as a role-play of the questioning of a witness by a lawyer.

The consecutive portion will simulate a trial setting in which an English-speaking attorney asks questions of a witness speaking in their targeted language. The candidate will be the interpreter from English to the targeted language and from the targeted language back to English. Parts of this portion of the examination always include examples of lower register speech, including profanity and idiomatic usage.

Consecutive interpreting requires intense listening of a few sentences followed by an accurate interpretation of what was said. The interpreter will often take notes to help in the interpreting process, especially if the utterances are long. Consecutive interpreting is usually bi-directional between two languages, for example interpreting Spanish to a listener in English and then interpreting the English reply back into Spanish.

Part 3 - Simultaneous interpretation

This part of the examination takes approximately 10 minutes, including instructions and preparation, and requires the candidate to listen to and simultaneously interpret a recorded speech of a lawyer. A brief section of colloquy by voices representing the judge, other attorneys, or a witness may be included. The candidate wears a set of headphones to listen to the recording and speaks aloud so that her or his performance can be recorded.

The speech is entirely in English, and the interpreter interprets into the target language as would be required to assist a defendant during a trial that only speaks the target language.

Written Exam

The written has 135 multiple choice questions. Examinees are allowed 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam, which consists of three sections:

  1. general language proficiency,
  2. court related terms, and
  3. ethics and professional conduct.

The examination is designed to test your proficiency in the English language and does not contain any foreign language questions. Your foreign language proficiency will be tested during the oral examination. Candidates should study the Overview of the Written Examination to be fully prepared for the written examination.

REFERENCE LIST

This examination is CLOSED BOOK. The references can be used for examination preparation. However, they will not be allowed for use in the test site during the examination.

  • Texas Law, Texas Government Code, Chapter 57
  • JBCC Statutes, Texas Government Code, Chapters 151- 157
  • JBCC Rules
  • Blacks Legal Dictionary
  • A common dictionary

<<Return to Top>>

Exercises to Aid Interpreters

Written Examination

  • Enroll in university level courses in a country where the language is spoken;
  • Read widely, using a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words;
  • Read any of the following: ◦Major newspaper editorials and articles, as well as news items related to legal matters and law enforcement,
  • Laws, codes, international treaties and conventions, contracts, and other legal writings,
  • U.S. court documents such as indictments, sentences, probation and police reports,
  • Notarized documents such as wills, contracts, powers-of-attorney, birth and death certificates,
  • Practice translating texts related to legal matters,
  • Brush up on grammar,
  • Expand your vocabulary,
  • Become familiar with court proceedings,
  • Take a court interpreting course.

Oral Examination

Reading Aloud

Stand in front of a mirror and read passages aloud from any book, newspaper, or magazine. A legal textbook, code book, or other legal text is useful for familiarizing yourself with legal language. Record or videotape yourself and analyze the outcome critically. Pay attention to your voice, pitch, tone, hesitations, signs, projection, enunciation, and posture.

Controlling Emotions

Practice controlling your emotions while reading aloud texts with high emotional content, such as fear, anger, humor, etc. Make sure you convey the author's intended emotions and not your personal reaction to the subject matter.

Public Speaking

Practice speaking before a group of people at every opportunity. People you know will constitute a less threatening audience and will allow you to ease your way into public speaking and build your confidence. Court interpreting is an ongoing exercise in public speaking.

Extensive Reading

Build up your reading speed and your vocabulary by reading as much as possible in many different fields.

Analyzing

Analyze the content of each text and practice picking out the subject and verb to determine the core meaning.

Example: Although less influential than in Argentina, migration from Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries affected the development of Chilean political culture. Subject: migration; Verb: affected.

Simultaneous Skills

The following exercises are designed specifically to build the dual tasking skills involved in simultaneous interpreting. They should be practiced daily for about a half hour at a time. Simultaneous interpreting skills must be acquired over time to allow for maximum familiarity.

First

Have someone record passages from magazines or newspapers on tape, or record radio or television talk shows or interview programs (news broadcasts are not suitable for these exercises because the pace is too fast and the content is too dense). The subject matter of these passages is irrelevant, but it should not be too technical or contain too many statistics and proper names. Essays and opinion columns are good sources of texts for recording. As you play back the tape, "shadow" the speaker: repeat everything the speaker says verbatim. Try to stay further and further behind the speaker, until you are lagging at least one unit of meaning behind.

Second

Once you feel comfortable talking and listening at the same time and are not leaving out too much, begin performing other tasks while shadowing. First, write the numerals 1 to 100 on a piece of paper as you repeat what the speaker says (make sure you are writing and speaking at the same time, not just writing during pauses). When you are able to do that, write the numerals in reverse order, from 100 to 1. Then write them counting by 5s, by 3s, and so on. Note what happens whenever numbers are mentioned in the text you are shadowing.

Third

When you are able to do exercise 2 with minimal errors, begin writing out words while shadowing. Begin with your name and address, written repeatedly. Then move on to a favorite poem or a passage such as the preamble to the U.S. Constitution (always choose a passage in the same language as that which you are shadowing). When writing this text, you should copy from a piece of paper placed in front of you. Do not try to write the passage from memory while shadowing the tape.

Fourth

While shadowing the tape as in the previous exercises, write down all the numbers and proper names you hear. Then play the tape back and check to see if you wrote them correctly. 

<<Return to Top>>

Fees

All fees are non-refundable.

  • Oral Exam Fee: ($300.00)
  • Written Exam Fee: ($100.00)
Updated: 12/16/2016