Frequently Asked Questions

U.S. Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of the United States.

How do I become a federally certified Spanish language court interpreter?

Is it possible to become federally certified without taking this examination?

What can I do to prepare for this examination?

How do I know that I'm qualified to take this examination?

What are the passing scores for the written and oral examinations?

Why isn't the written examination given in a location closer to me or easier for me to get to?

Why are the examinations given every other year instead of once a year?

 

 

 

 

How do I become a federally certified Spanish language court interpreter?
To be a federally certified court interpreter, you must first take and pass a two-part (English and Spanish) Written Examination. Once you pass that examination, you are eligible to register for the Oral Examination. If you pass the Oral Examination, you are federally certified and will receive official notification from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

The minimum time required to become certified is two years. The Written Examination is administered one year, with the Oral Examination administered in the following year.

 

Is it possible to become federally certified without taking this examination?
No. There are no alternative examinations or qualifications for becoming federally certified. State certification or having passing test results on tests administered by other federal, state, or local agencies or interpreter training programs are not accepted in lieu of the FCICE examinations. While there are some good educational programs, having a “certificate” or diploma from one or more of these programs is not a substitute for the FCICE, which is a performance test of interpreting skills.

 

What can I do to prepare for this examination?
The Examinee Handbook has suggestions for preparing for both the Written Examination and the Oral Examination, including reference materials.  There is also a full-length practice examination for both the Written and Oral Examinations, which may help you focus on areas where you need additional study and practice.  

You might also visit the Web page of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT), or the Language Access Service Section of the National Center for State Courts.  Both of these websites have information and links that you may find useful in your pursuit of resources.

 

How do I know that I'm qualified to take this examination?
The Examinee Handbook includes material entitled “Self-assessment of readiness to take the FCICE” (Section 5). The assessment is designed to help you determine whether your language proficiency and interpreting skills are sufficient for you to have a reasonable chance of passing the examination. The assessment is only helpful when you complete an honest assessment of your actual skill levels.

 

What are the passing scores for the Written and Oral Examinations?
To pass the Written Examination, candidates must score 75 or higher on both the English and the Spanish sections of the test. To pass the Oral Examination, candidates must obtain an overall score of 80 or higher.

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Why isn't the Written Examination given in a location closer to me or easier for me to get to?
The Written Examination locations are determined by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts based on several factors, including the need for federally certified court interpreters in various areas of the country. The AO assesses the needs and considers some additional factors before each administration of the Written Examination and decides where the examinations are going to be administered. Generally, the Written Examination is offered in over thirty locations around the country.

 

Why are the Written Examinations given every other year instead of  once a year?
The FCICE is a two-phase process involving the Spanish/English Written Examination (Phase One) and Oral Examination (Phase Two). With some exceptions, since 1983, these two phases have been administered biennially, with Phase One and Phase Two occurring in alternating years. The cost associated with administering the federal examinations is high and it takes almost a year to complete the pre-examination, examination, and post-examination activities.