Registration / background questionnaire

2.1 Schedule of examinations

The Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination is a two-phase process involving a Spanish/English Written Examination (Phase One) and an Oral Examination (Phase Two).  The two phases are offered biennially, with Phase One and Phase Two occurring in alternating years.

Examination dates and locations, and registration deadlines, which change from year to year, are posted here.

2.2 How to register for the FCICE

Candidates for the Spanish/English Federal Court Interpreter Written or Oral Examination can register either online or by mail.  For detailed instructions for registering online, refer to 2.5 – Online Registration below.  If registering by mail, refer to 2.6 - Registration by mail below. 

Please note that candidates requesting a special accommodation must register by mail and provide written documentation:

  • explaining the nature of the disability, and
  • providing a detailed explanation of the accommodation being requested (see 2.8 – Special Accommodations for more information). 

FCICE staff will help candidates requesting a special accommodation to complete the registration process.

It is the responsibility of interested interpreters to inform themselves of the dates that registration opens and closes and of the dates of testing.  This information is posted on the FCICE Web site here as soon as the dates are known, so interpreters are encouraged to visit the site periodically.  In particular, it is the responsibility of candidates who are eligible to take the Oral Examination to request registration information during the appropriate registration period.

Registration material received after a registration deadline (indicated online and on the printed registration form) will not be accepted and will be returned to the candidate.  Although exceptions are rarely granted, emergency requests for late registration must be in writing and include a detailed description and proof of all reasons why the deadline was missed.

Mailed registrations must be received on or before the registration deadline.  Registration forms received after the registration deadline will not be processed and will be returned to the sender, even if the registration form is postmarked before the deadline.

Registration cannot be completed via telephone or e-mail.

Registration material without the required fee or with fees paid with a personal check will not be processed and will be returned to the candidate.  (See 2.9 - Fee information for more details.)

Incomplete registration material will not be accepted and will be returned to the candidate for completion.  The candidate must re-submit the completed registration material by the registration deadline. 

Candidates must indicate where they would like to take the examination.2

Oral Examinations are scheduled to take place over a period of one or more weeks depending on the number of candidates scheduled.  Candidates are tested individually during the Oral Examination and thus are scheduled for a specific date and time.

Candidates must appear at their scheduled date and time for the Written and Oral Examinations. 

Rescheduling is not permitted.

Candidates are responsible for keeping the National Center for State Courts informed of current name and address information to avoid missing important mailings.  Such updates may be e-mailed to fcice@ncsc.org, or updated online at Verify your information.3  In the event of inclement weather, construction, traffic or other unforeseen delays, candidates should plan ahead and have contingency plans for arriving on time to take the examination.

Should a natural disaster (e.g., fire, flood, earthquake, etc.) occur shortly before the examination at the test site, candidates must call NCSC at 757-259-7501 for information about alternative arrangements.  Information will also be provided via the website.

2.3 Cancellation policy

Written Examination:  To cancel a Written Examination registration and be eligible for a partial refund (a $75.00 processing fee will be deducted from any refund issued to a candidate who cancels registration for the Written Examination), the cancellation request must be submitted in writing and received by NCSC no later than 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on the Friday 22 calendar days before the scheduled examination unless otherwise stated on the FCICE Web site.  No refunds will be given for registration cancellations received after the deadline or to candidates who do not appear for the Written Examination.  If a candidate wishes to cancel a scheduled examination, please check Prometric’s cancellation policy in the candidate information bulletin at www.prometric.com/fcice.

Oral Examination:  Candidates should advise NCSC as soon as it becomes known that they must cancel their Oral Examination registration, so that test schedules can be adjusted, if necessary.  The registration fee is non-refundable.

2.4 Registering for an examination

If you have never registered online for a Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination before, you will be asked to enter your title, first name, middle name, last name, Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, address (including city, state, and zip code), day phone number, evening phone number, e-mail address, and other information.  (Please note – the Social Security number is provided solely for the purpose of issuing a separate, unique identification number.  The Social Security number will not be shared with any other entity or person.  You are required to enter date of birth, mother’s maiden name, name and address information, and at least one phone number or e-mail address.  You will also be required to create a password.

You will be issued an Examinee Identification Number.  That number is important and you will need the number and your password for subsequent communications with FCICE staff.

2.5 Online registration

To register online, simply go to the Register Now button in the site navigation and follow the instructions for online registration for the Written or Oral Examination.  You must register during the registration period indicated on the website.  You will not be allowed to register outside of the registration period.

You will be prompted to indicate whether you request a special accommodation.  If you indicate that you do require a special accommodation, you will be taken to a web page that describes the process for religious reasons and requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation requests.  The contact information for FCICE project staff is included on that page and they will help you through the registration process.
 
When registering online for the oral examination, you must indicate the test site locations you prefer (first, second, and third choices).  For test site locations, please go to the Exam Dates and Location page on the online web pages.

To complete your registration process, you will be prompted to pay for the examination.  You will need to enter your credit card number (MasterCard, Visa, or American Express), the CVV number, and the expiration date.  Once your credit card payment is accepted, your demographic information and test location choices will be saved in a secure database; a confirmation page will appear, notifying you that your registration has been accepted and telling you what your examinee identification number is.  The vendor name that will appear on your credit card statement will be "NCSC" or "NTL CTR FOR ST CTS".

Please read the confirmation page very carefully for important information, including instructions for scheduling a written exam, and follow the links to the Background Questionnaire.You should print the confirmation page and keep it in a safe place for later reference. 

After successfully registering for the written examination, you should follow directions contained in your confirmation page to schedule an examination online with Prometric.  You will need your ID number to schedule that exam. 

After successfully registering for the oral examination, an official, personalized Admission Letter will be posted on the FCICE website.  You will need your ID number and password to access your official Admission Letter.  Once the Admission Letters are posted, you can click the Registered Candidates Only link to view and print your letter.  If for any reason you are unable to access the online Admission Letter, please call the FCICE project staff at NCSC at (757) 259-7501.

If your address changes after you have registered, please update your personal information by clicking on the Verify Your Information link or contact FCICE staff by e-mail (FCICE@ncsc.org) immediately. 

2.6 Registration by mail

Complete the requested information on the registration form by carefully following the instructions provided.  Please be sure to sign the form in the space provided at the bottom of the registration form.

To request a printed registration form, contact NCSC, either by e-mail at FCICE@ncsc.org  or by mail to the following address:

The National Center for State Courts
Attention:  FCICE Program
300 Newport Avenue
Williamsburg , VA 23185 

If you require special accommodations, check the appropriate box provided on the registration form.  FCICE project staff will contact you to help you through the registration process.  Please refer to 2.8 – Special accommodations for specific information on the documentation required for special accommodation requests. 

Complete the fee information at the bottom of the registration form.  You may pay by money order, cashier’s check, Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.  If you are using a credit card, be sure to fill in the name on the card, the card number, and the expiration date and to sign the registration form.  The vendor name will appear on your credit card statement as "NCSC: or "NTL CTR FOR ST CTS".

Mail your completed and signed registration form and fee to:

The National Center for State Courts
Attention: FCICE Program
300 Newport Avenue
Williamsburg , VA 23185 

Your mailed registration form must be received by the registration deadline, indicated on the form and online.  Postmarks are not accepted and, if your registration form is received after the registration deadline, it will not be processed and will be returned to the sender.

If you do not have access to the internet and are unable to schedule your examination online with Prometric, please call the FCICE project staff at NCSC at (757) 259-7501.

2.7 Background Questionnaire

Candidates who register for the Phase One Written Examination or the Phase Two Oral Examination are requested to complete a Background Questionnaire for each examination taken.  If you have registered online, you may simply click on the Background Questionnaire link, complete, and submit the simple questionnaire. 

The Background Questionnaire is a critical element in quality control of the FCICE testing program.  If you are unable to access the Internet to complete the Background Questionnaire, please contact the NCSC by e-mail at FCICE@ncsc.org, or by telephone at (757) 259-7501, to request a paper version of the questionnaire. 

2.8 Special accommodations

Candidates who require adjustments in the testing procedure because of disability or impairment may request a special accommodation.  Requests for special accommodations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis after all documentation regarding the requested accommodation has been received.  Those requests that meet the criteria detailed below will be accommodated.  Foremost among the related considerations is whether the accommodation will undermine test validity, given the job requirements for interpreters and the concomitant test constructs.4  For example, an accommodation for a hearing impairment would likely not be approved because the ability to hear well is an essential job requirement, and an accommodation for impaired memory would likely not be approved because short-term memory skills are an essential job requirement. 

Candidates requesting special accommodations must register by mailing in all registration materials and required documents by the registration deadline; online registration is not available for candidates requesting special accommodations.  For additional information on special accommodations, please call FCICE project staff at NCSC at (757) 259-7501.

ADA accommodations:  For Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations due to a disability or impairment, candidates must submit a letter 1) indicating what the disability or impairment is, and 2) describing the recommended accommodation for the candidate.  The letter must be on a medical professional’s official letterhead, signed by the medical professional, and be submitted by the registration deadline.  Faxed submissions are acceptable for this purpose.

2.9 Fee information

Fees are to be paid by cashier’s check, money order, Visa, MasterCard, or American Express only, according to the following fee schedule (these fees are subject to change for subsequent testing cycles).  Personal checks and/or cash are not accepted.  Make cashier’s checks or money orders payable to the National Center for State Courts.  The payment transaction will occur upon receipt of the registration.

2.10 Taking the examination

Please arrive at the test site early.  Being late will increase your stress level.  If you are late for your Oral Examination, it is unlikely that you will be rescheduled within the current test cycle and will have to wait for the next regularly scheduled Oral Examination.  If you are late for the Written Examination, test proctors will not allow you to enter the testing room.  If you are late for the Oral Examination, test proctors will move on to the next scheduled candidate and you will lose your scheduled time slot.  If you are the last examinee of the day, proctors will wait no more than 15 minutes. 

When you arrive at your oral examination location, there will be signs posted, identifying the waiting or registration area.  Please remember that the test administrator may be testing another examinee when you arrive; simply be seated in the waiting area until the administrator comes for you.  If you are taking a Written Examination, Prometric personnel will sign you in and provide instructions.

If you are taking an oral examination, present your printed Admission Letter at the test site as your official confirmation to take the examination. 

Official identification is required for all examinations and only the following will be accepted (current or issued within the last five years):

  • Driver's license or State DMV I.D. card
  • U.S. passport or passport issued by a foreign government
  • U.S. Military I.D. card

It is important that the name you use to register for an examination exactl matches the name on the official identification you plan to use.  Proctors may not let you sign in for the examination if the names do not match exactly.

The FCICE program strives to ensure that the temperature in the testing rooms will be comfortable and that the rooms have the appropriate heating and air conditioning controls, however, we cannot guarantee that the room temperature will be pleasing for every examinee and we recommend that you dress in layers and bring a sweater or light jacket with you.

Please leave dictionaries and reference materials at home, in addition to all other electronic devices, including cell phones.  These items are NOT allowed in the testing room and test staff and Prometric personnel are not responsible for their security while you are taking an examination.  You should bring only your identification documents, keys, a sweater or light jacket, and a wallet or small purse to the testing site.  Everything you need to take the test will be provided. 

For the written examination, Prometric’s protocol states:  You must not bring any personal/unauthorized items into the testing room.  Such items include, but are not limited to:  outerwear, hats, food, drinks, purses, briefcases, notebooks, pagers, watches, cell phone, recording devices, and photographic equipment   You will be asked to empty and turn your pockets inside out prior to every entry into the test room to confirm that you have no prohibited items. 

During the oral examination, before being escorted to the test room, you will be asked if you have a cell phone or any other electronic devices, and if you do, they will be placed in a zip lock bag and held by the registration clerk until the test has concluded.  After the test, the items will be returned to you.  You may be disqualified from taking a federal examination in the future if you are found to have any electronic devices on your person while taking a test. 

Any candidate who is found to have access to equipment or material that could be used to assist in taking the examination or that could be used to record or transmit any portion of an examination will be permanently disqualified from taking any test in the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination program.

Smoking, eating, and/or drinking are not permitted in the testing room.  During the Oral Examination, drinking water will be provided for you during the examination.  No visitors, except for official observers, are permitted in the testing room.  You may wear a watch (without an alarm) during the test if you wish; however, the test administrator will keep the official time. 

Please use the restroom before you enter the testing room.  If you request a break during the administration of the Oral Examination, you will interrupt your pace and interfere with your concentration.   If you request a break during the administration of the Written Examination, no additional time will be granted for you to finish the examination.

2.11 Score reporting procedures and timelines

Written Examination:  Approximately eight weeks following the administration of the Written Examination, score results letters will be mailed to candidates at the address provided during registration or the new address provided following registration, if any.  Candidates who have not received test scores ten weeks following the examination should assume that a problem in mailing has occurred and should contact FCICE project staff at NCSC at (757) 259-7501.  A master list of candidate names and test scores will be provided to the AO when results have been compiled.

Candidates may appeal the results of a Written Examination based only upon the following grounds (see the Dispute Resolution policy, below):

  • Significant irregularity in the exam administration
  • Discrimination
  • Bias
  • Fraud, or
  • Inappropriate application of ADA or other accommodations.

Candidates may request a rescore of the answer sheet from the Written Examination.  Requests for rescoring the Written Examination must be submitted in writing and accompanied by a $40.00 cashier’s check or money order only, payable to the National Center for State Courts.  No personal checks, cash, or credit cards are accepted.

Rescore requests must be submitted within 30 days of the date on the Written Examination results letter.  The results of the rescore of the Written Examination are sent to the candidate within ten business days of the receipt of the request and fee.  If the rescore results in a score change for the candidate, then the $40.00 fee will be refunded.  It is important to note that, since 2002, twenty percent (20%) of all the Written Examinations are hand rescored as part of the overall quality control process.  In addition, since 2002, no score has changed as a result of a hand rescore.

You will be provided with a breakdown of your equated scores by test part (there are five parts in the English section and five parts in the Spanish section of the exam); however, it is important for you to recognize that taken individually, the score on a test part will not serve as a diagnostic tool (only the total scores on the English and the total scores on the Spanish sections of the exam comprise your “official score”).  The part scores will not accurately inform you about particular strengths or weaknesses in that part of the test, simply because there are not a sufficient number of items in each part to confirm a particular strength or weakness.  Part scores are provided only for informational purposes.  As discussed in 1.7 – Practice Tests, above, you might obtain more detailed feedback about your skill level by taking the Practice Test, although, like the score breakdown, it is not intended to be a diagnostic tool.

Oral Examination:  Candidates who pass the Written Examination are eligible to take the Phase Two Oral Examination.  Prior to the next Oral Examination, those candidates should receive an Oral Examination registration form and a Test Location Information insert.  However, it is the responsibility of the candidates who have passed the Written Examination to inform themselves of the schedule for the upcoming Oral Examination by checking the website frequently and by requesting registration information during the appropriate registration period.  Candidates must submit new registration materials and the appropriate fee in order to register for the Oral Examination.  A master list of candidate names and test scores will be provided to the AO when results have been compiled. 

Approximately thirteen weeks following the administration of the Oral Examinations, results will be mailed to candidates at the address provided during registration.  Information about when the results will be mailed will be posted on the web site.  Candidates are responsible for providing updated contact information to the NCSC until they have received their results; those who pass the exam successfully must advise NCSC of any change in name or mailing address until they have received their certificate from the AO.  The Director of the AO will confer certification on candidates who pass the Oral Exam.  Certificates are usually mailed to successful candidates in December or January following the examination.

Candidates may appeal the results of an Oral Examination based only upon the following grounds (see the Dispute Resolution policy, below):

  • Significant irregularity in the exam administration
  • Discrimination
  • Bias
  • Fraud, or
  • Inappropriate application of ADA or other accommodations.

2.12 Dispute Resolution Policy

2.12.1  Complaints and appeals

Complaints and appeals are written communications to the National Center for State Courts concerning a test candidate’s score on a Written or Oral Examination.

  • Complaints include any communication received in writing from a test candidate in regard to a test administration or test score report. 
  • Appeals are written communications that specifically request an action to reconsider the scores reported to the candidate. 

The only grounds for appeal that will be considered include those showing evidence of:

  • Significant irregularity in the exam administration
  • Discrimination
  • Bias
  • Fraud, or
  • Inappropriate application of ADA or other accommodations.

Appeals based on alleged inappropriateness of test content or any specific test item(s) are not considered.  In addition, appeals on grounds other than those listed above are not accepted or acted upon. This is not to imply that applicants are discouraged from providing thoughtful feedback about their test experience.  All comments and inquiries are reviewed and given consideration.  A standard form response is used when an appeal fails to meet the required criteria or when a complaint or appeal is based on test content or specific test items.  

 
Complaints and appeals must be sent to:

National Center for State Courts
Attention: FCICE Program
300 Newport Avenue
Williamsburg, VA 23185

2.12.2 When and how should complaints and appeals be filed?

The procedure for filing complaints and appeals is substantially the same for both the Written Examination and the Oral Examination.  Complaints and appeals must be submitted in writing within thirty (30) calendar days from the date on the applicant’s results report letter. 
     
A complaint must clearly state what information or activity the examinee is requesting, or, if there is a question, what the question is.  All complaints are reviewed and will receive a response.

An appeal must state the basis for the examinee’s belief that a “fail” status was the result of bias, fraud, discrimination, inappropriate application of ADA or other special accommodations, or manifest error in the administration of the exam.  Evidence that supports the examinee’s belief must be included in the appeal.  Only letters of appeal written and submitted by the examinee or the legal representative of the examinee are accepted.  Letters written on behalf of an examinee by anyone other than the examinee or legal counsel are not accepted or acted upon.  A standard form response is used under these circumstances.

2.12.3  When will a response to a complaint or an appeal be received?

If a complaint or appeal meets the above-mentioned criteria, acknowledgement is sent within ten days and a final, official response is mailed within 120 days of receipt of the appeal, indicating either the resolution of the issue or advising the complainant/appellent that the investigation is ongoing. 

If an appeal is disallowed because it fails to meet the requirements, it is considered a complaint and a final, official response is sent within 120 days.

2.12.4 Confidentiality of investigation findings

All investigations of disputes are confidential and internal.  Summaries of findings may be sent to the examinee, but the examinee is not entitled to review original papers or discussions resulting from an investigation.

2.12.5  Finality of decisions

Decisions based on the findings of the NCSC are final. Unless otherwise directed by the AO, after the decisions are made by the NCSC and the examinee is notified, NCSC takes no further action and forwards all further related correspondence and calls to the AO.


2  In 2012, candidates will schedule their written examinations with Prometric, Inc. at one of its many locations.  Exams must be scheduled to occur during a two-week testing “window.”  This is an additional step after successfully registering with the National Center for State Courts.

3 A “construct” is an attribute of people, reflected in test performance; for example, the ability to perform the activities of a court interpreter.