Licensed Court Interpreters

Exams 

Please be advised that each applicant is solely responsible for ensuring they read our website to obtain information on the requirements for applying for certification, applying the exam, deadlines, etc.

Inquiries Regarding Paperwork

Applications are processed as soon as possible, in the order of which they are received. Due to the volume of applications received, processing times can vary; therefore, we are unable to provide more specific timeframes.

Applicants must confirm receipt of their applications, the status of their applications, and their applications progress by referring to the View Pending Online Applications page of their online profiles. From this page, they can verify the following information 24/7:

  1. Confirm receipt of documents uploaded to their application by looking at the number reflect next to the Document(s) link.
    • If it shows (0), the document was not uploaded (i.e., it was not received).
    • If it shows (1), or any number other than 0, the document was uploaded (i.e., it has been received).
  2. Check their applications status.
    • By hovering their mouse over the status, they'll also be able to see descriptive text that explains what the status means.
  3. Check the progress of their applications status by clicking the View Details link.
    • This will show them which items on their application's checklist have been completed, and which are still pending.

Applicants are also sent automated email confirmations of successful application submission, and when applications are approved.

Inquiries for application status checks or receipt confirmation will not be replied to unless determined by staff that there’s been a delay in processing your application, and you have not received prior notification. We receive many of these inquiries and each email takes time to research and respond to which delays the processing of applications. Thank you for your understanding.

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. Applicants must pass the written exam prior to taking the oral exam. 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.

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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. (Updated 04/30/2024)

*= Abbreviated examination

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

The JBCC does not contract with any other examination provider.  Therefore, we do not offer examinations for licensure as a court interpreter for languages other than those indicated above.

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 note to qualify for licensure by endorsement, applicants must provide proof of exam scores and must pass all three parts in one sitting. If seeking endorsement by way of your federal license for a language not listed above, please contact our licensing specialist at courtinterpreters@txcourts.gov so we can determine whether or not a TX license can be issued for that language. Please ensure to include your full name and the language in question in your email. Please refer to the Initial Licensure page of our website for additional information on licensure by endorsement.

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License Upgrade and Adding a Language

If you wish to upgrade your license from Basic to Master, you must complete the General Fee Remittance form via the online certification and licensing system located on the home page of our website, after you have passed the oral exam examination at the master level. 

If you wish to add a language, you must complete the General Fee Remittance form via the online certification and licensing system located on the home page of our website, after you have passed the oral exam in the language you wish to add to your license.  

Exam Dates & Locations

Exam dates are listed below. Additional dates may be added, per calendar year, once confirmed. Dates and protocols are subject to change. The dates listed below are the first day the exam is given; exams may be offered over one, two, three, or four days, depending on the number registrants, availability, and whose forms and payments are received by the deadline.

Important Notes:

  1. If new exam dates are not posted, please wait to apply until the dates are listed as you will be required to include the exam date on your application.
  2. Exam slots are filled on a first come, first served basis. If your registration application is received after all slots are filled, your application will be withdrawn, your exam fee refunded, and you can register for a future exam date. Applicants are not automatically reassigned to a future exam date. We will post when exams are closed for further registrations by the exam date that has filled up.
    • Due to limited seating availability, we strongly recommend only applying to test when you are certain you will be able to attend, as this will help to prevent unnecessary cancellations thus allowing everyone an equal opportunity to take the exam. Please refer to the Rescheduling Exams section below for additional information and deadlines.
  3. Please be advised that we are unable to accommodate requests to select the time slots assigned for exams.
  4. JBCC staff will assign your date, time and location for the exams.  Please read your notice carefully to ensure you arrive on the correct date and time and at the correct location. We strongly recommend that you not make travel arrangements until after you've received your exam assignment.

Written Exam

  • The registration deadline for the written exam is 30 days before the exam date. 

Oral Exam

  • The registration deadlines for the oral exam are 35 days before the exam date.
  • Only 12 examinees can be accommodated per day. 

Deadlines

The registration deadline is not a postmark date; your registration application and payment must be submitted online by the established dates shown below.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please continue to monitor schedule below for updates. Dates are subject to change. 

(*)= First day of exams. Your assigned date and time will be sent to you via email only after your application has been processed. 

Oral Exam Dates
Date Location Registration Deadline
*02/05/2024 Exam Closed Austin, TX  01/02/2024
*06/03/2024 Exam Closed Austin, TX  04/30/2024
* 10/07/2024 Austin, TX 09/03/2024

.

Written Exam Dates
Date Location Registration Deadline
*02/13/2024 Exam Closed Austin, TX  01/23/2024
*06/10/2024 Exam Closed Austin, TX 05/12/2024
*10/15/2024 Austin, TX 09/15/2024 

 

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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 submitted online 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.
    • Applicants will not be registered for the exam until they have completed all requirements listed on the Initial Licensure page of our website prior to applying to test.
  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.

Applying for the Exam

You must apply for the exam via our online licensing and certification system. To apply online, please go to the online certification and licensing system on our home page.

Those applying to test for ASL purposes via the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) must not complete the Application for Licensure. They must only apply for the written exam and pay the written exam fee via their online profile in our licensing system.

First-Time Applicants:

Submit the items below:

  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:

You must qualify to take the oral exam prior to applying (i.e., have already passed the written exam).

Submit the items below: 

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

Applicants taking Oral exam to Upgrade to Master level, and those seeking to Add a language to their license:

Submit the items below prior to taking the oral exam: 

  1. Exam Registration Form.
  2. Pay the exam fee.
    • In the Additional Information section, select 'Upgrade License' as reason for testing.
    • In the Additional Information section, select 'Adding a Language' as reason for testing.

Submit the items below only after passing the oral exam to upgrade from a Basic license to a Master license: 

  1. General Fee Remittance Form.
  2. Pay the upgrade fee.

Submit the items below only after passing the oral exam to add a language to your existing license: 

  1. Change of Endorsement Form.
  2. Pay the add language fee.

How to Apply for an Exam:
First-Time Applicants (i.e., those who have not applied with us before):
A) Create your online profile following the instructions in section I of the pdf Guide to Using the Online System on the home page of our website.
B) Go to your profile home page and click the Apply for Exam link on the What Do You Want to Do menu. Follow the instructions accordingly from there.

Existing Applicants (i.e., those who have applied with us before):
Login to your online profile and click the Apply for Exam link on the What Do You Want to Do menu of your home page. Follow the instructions accordingly from there.

ADA Accommodations.

Upon request, reasonable accommodations will be made for ADA conditions. For example, sight or hearing accommodations (inclusive of the need to use a hearing aid for the oral exam). Requests must be submitted by the exam applicant as far in advance as possible to allow ample time for arrangements to be made. 

Procedures for ADA requests:

  1. Submit a written request for ADA accommodations for the exam you wish to take to the licensing specialist at courtinterpreters@txcourts.gov.
  2. The licensing specialist will then send you the ADA request form.
    • The form must be completed by your physician.
  3. Return the ADA request form to the licensing specialist no less than 21 days in advance of the exam (weekends and holidays excluded).
  4. The request will be reviewed and considered by management to determine the reasonable accommodations to be made. The licensing specialist will notify you of said accommodation via email.

Rescheduling Exams

Per section 3.9 (a)(2), you must submit written notification to the Commission not less than ten (10) days prior to the exam date, along with supporting documentation of your inability to test due to an emergency, if you have registered for an exam and will not be able to make it. Please email the Certification Division Licensing Specialist at courtinterpreters@txcourts.gov. Staff will then withdraw your application, your exam fee can be refunded, and you can apply to register for a future exam date. Applicants are not automatically reassigned to a future exam date. 

Personal Belongings

No personal items are allowed at the examination site. Per exam protocols, personal property cannot be left with the registrar. Please leave your personal items in a secure place prior to your arrival. Staff will not be responsible for safeguarding of any personal property. You cannot bring anything with you into the exam room except your keys (without a FOB), your wallet, and a jacket (with empty pockets). This includes, but is not limited to:

  • cell phones,
  • pagers,
  • PDAs,
  • cameras,
  • notes,
  • electronic devices (including key FOB's),
  • watches (analog included),
  • recording devices of any kind,
  • purses,
  • backpacks,
  • bags,
  • papers,
  • portable fans (non-electric fans included), and
  • food or drink.

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.

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Exam Day Information

Reporting to the Exam Site

You may arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time. This allows plenty of time for sign-in and identification verification. 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 enter the exam site. Please be sure to allow adequate time.

Attendance

Please be advised that we must adhere to strict schedules during exam administration. Additionally, to ensure all applicants have an equally fair opportunity to take the exam, please ensure you are indeed available to take the exam prior to registering for it. 

  1. Examinees will only be tested on their designated date and at their designated time. 
    • Examinees that arrive at a date and/or time earlier than they're scheduled for will not be tested early. 
    • Individuals not on the exam rosters will not be tested.
  2. Oral examinees running more than 15 minutes late cannot be tested. 
    • You may reapply to test at a future exam date. 
    • Your exam fee will not be refunded or carried over to a future exam date. 
  3. Once the exam doors have closed for the written exam, you will not be allowed to test. 
    • You may reapply to test at a future exam date. 
    • Your exam fee will not be refunded or carried over to a future exam date. 

Etiquette

  1. No form of communication is permitted amongst candidates once you enter the examination site. 
  2. Loitering is not permitted. Applicants must leave the exam site after testing.
  3. Staff must adhere to the scripts provided by NCSC.
    • Questions or concerns must be submitted to the licensing specialist at courtinterpreters@txcourts.gov to be addressed at a time after all exams have been concluded. 
  4. After you have signed in and your ID has been verified, you will be directed into the exam room.
  5. The proctor will instruct you regarding testing in the exam room.
  6. You may not leave and re-enter the exam room during testing. We recommend taking any bathroom breaks, or other necessary breaks, prior to entering the exam room.
  7. You must conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times, just as you would in a courthouse.
    • You shall not use words or take actions that are vulgar, obscene, libelous, or that would denigrate 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, your examination results will be disqualified, and you will forfeit your exam fee.
  8. Friends and family members are permitted in the exam area.
    • We do not have an official testing center with designated areas for visitors; therefore, we strongly recommend that you make arrangements ahead of time for them to drop you off and return after the exam has concluded. This also ensures that the staff of other offices nearby are not disturbed.
    • Please make arrangements ahead of time for them to pick you up after the exam is completed, please be advised the oral exams are approximately 45 minutes long, and the written exams are no longer than 2 hrs. and 15 minutes.

Exam Security and Cheating

Per section 3.7 of the JBCC Rules, the contents of any examination that is required for the issuance of a Commission certification or license are confidential.

Except for those whose ADA accommodations have been pre-approved by the JBCC, when an applicant must take an examination in order to obtain a certification or license, the applicant may only use methods of assistance that are available to, and authorized for, other persons taking the examination. 

Violation of exam security includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • obtaining or attempting to obtain from any source examination questions or answers for use by an applicant, prospective applicant, or any other person, including a person associated with a school or examination preparation course;
  • providing or attempting to provide examination questions or answers to an applicant, prospective applicant, or any other person, including a person associated with a school or examination preparation course;
  • presenting a falsified or fraudulent document to gain entry to an examination;
  • presenting a falsified or fraudulent document concerning an individual's results from an examination;
  • taking an examination for another person;
  • an applicant or prospective applicant, knowingly allowing another person to take an examination for the applicant or prospective applicant;
  • while taking an examination, using any materials not authorized by the Commission or testing service for use in the examination, including but not limited to notes or study aides;
  • bringing to the examination site or leaving the examination site with examination questions or answers obtained from the current examination or from previous examination attempts;
    • This includes writing down questions or contents of the exam after completing testing (for any reason).  
  • while taking an examination, communicating with any person, other than an authorized representative of the Commission or testing service, about the examination; 
  • bringing any items into the examination, including hand-written notes, not pre-approved by the Commission or testing service; 
  • disclosure of exam contents including subject, questions, answers, formatting, etc. with any person, organization, or agency would be a violation of the exam security protocols and would result in disqualification of your exam and you would not be able to test again until two years from the disqualification date.

An applicant who cheats on an examination will be disqualified and may not take the examination again until two years have elapsed from the date of the examination at which the applicant was disqualified.

Exam Results

Inquiries for exam results will not be replied to unless exam results have already been issued and your inquiry would indicate to the JBCC that you have not received the emailed results. We receive many of these inquiries after each exam and each takes time to respond to which delays the processing of results. Thank you for your understanding.

  • Examinees cannot request their exams to be graded by a specific rater. 
  • You will be officially notified of your results by email to the address provided on your registration form.
    • Exam results will not be released or discussed by telephone.
    • Exam results will not be provided to, or discussed with, a third party, including your employer.
  • Your notification of exam results indicates if you passed or failed, as well as your score. 
    • If you failed the overall oral exam by 1 percent point, not a section of the oral exam, a re-score may be requested.
      • Re-scores are conducted at the discretion of the JBCC, per NCSC guidelines. 
      • Examinees are responsible for paying any re-score fees.
      • Re-score results are final and cannot be appealed.
  • Results for the written exam will be provided to you within 30 days of the exam date, as provided by Rule 3.11(a) of the JBCC Rules. Examinees will be notified if results will be delayed for longer than 90 days after the exam.
  • Results for the oral exam will be provided to you within 90 days of the exam date, as provided by Rule 3.11(b) of the JBCC Rules.
  • Per section 152.201 (c-1) of Chapter 152 and section 3.11 (d) of the JBCC Rules, passing exam scores are valid for a period of 2 years after the date of the examination. If you've not become licensed within 2 years of passing the exam, you must retake the exam passed.
  • Per section 9.3 of the JBCC Rules, 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 2021 and fail, and the next exam you're eligible for is in March of 2022, the earliest you can re-apply is February of 2022. 
  • Per section 3.11 of the JBCC Rules, examinees will be notified of exam results graded by the JBCC within 30 days of the exam (i.e., the written exam).
  • Requests for examination regrades must be submitted via the online application within 30 days after receiving notice of the initial exam results. Refer to Fees section below for the amount due to have an exam regraded.

Note: It is possible that oral exam 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.

Written must score as follows before they can take the Oral exam:

  • exam score of 108 or higher (i.e., 80% or more) is considered passing.

Oral exam applicants must score as follows to receive a license:

  • at least 60% on each part of the oral exam for a Basic designation license, or
  • at least 70% on each part for a Master designation license.

Licensure

After you have passed the exam, your application for licensure will be processed. Please allow up to 30 days from the date you receive your exam results for your licensure card to be issued.

Licensure cards will be issued by regular mail to the primary mailing address on file. 

Once you’re licensed, you will receive an automated email from our system advising that your new license application has been approved. Please check your inbox (and spam folder) for this correspondence. Once you receive this email, or you get your licensure card in the mail, or verify your licensure online, whichever comes first, you may begin to provide court interpreting services.

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Oral Exam

  • The oral exam consists of three parts (legs):
    • Sight Interpretation,
    • Consecutive Interpretation, and
    • Simultaneous Interpretation.
  • The oral exam cannot be passed in legs.

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.

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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

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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. 

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Fees

All fees are non-refundable. However, if you have a fee dispute you must submit it to courtinterpreters@txcourts.gov for resolution.

  • Oral Exam Fee: $300.00
  • Written Exam Fee: $100.00
  • Acceptable forms of payment:  Credit Card or Debit Card
Updated: 05/20/2024