After attending the orientation workshop, candidates are eligible to take the written exam.
The exam is designed to measure the candidate's general English language proficiency, knowledge of court-related terms and usage, and familiarity with ethical and professional conduct. Passing the written exam does not mean an interpreter is certified, but that the candidate has met one of several certification requirements.
Only candidates who attend the orientation workshop are eligible to take the written exam. To register for the exam, print, complete and mail a written exam registration form to the address at the bottom of the form. Registrations are accepted in the order they are received. Due to demand and testing room space requirements, candidates may need to be switched between dates and/or morning and afternoon sessions. Candidates are notified in advance if these changes are necessary. Dates and locations are posted on the interpreter program calendar as they are scheduled.
The exam fee is $50 for state residents and $75 for non-state residents. Registrations must be accompanied by full payment. Payment can be made by money order or personal check written to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Registration forms are not processed without receipt of the registration fee. A $25 fee is assessed for all returned checks. Candidates may reschedule or cancel before the confirmation letter is mailed out. There is no rescheduling, canceling or refunds issued after the confirmation letter is sent or if the candidate fails to take the test on the assigned date and time.
Forms and payment must be received by 5 p.m. on the test registration deadline listed as your first choice. No registrations will be accepted after the deadline. Closing dates are strictly enforced. Once their forms and payments are received, candidates are sent a confirmation email. Once registration closes, candidates receive a confirmation letter with the location of their test site and a copy of Overview of the Written Examination. You must bring your confirmation letter and a valid government issued photo ID to the test.
Taking the Exam
The written exam consists of two parts: a multiple choice exam and a language assessment exercise.
The multiple choice exam is made up of 135 multiple choice questions. It measures entry-level knowledge of English vocabulary, common words and phrases likely to be heard in court, the typical progression of cases through the court system and provisions of a code of professional conduct. Candidates are given two hours and 15 minutes to complete the multiple choice part of the exam and must score at least 80 percent to pass, or 108 correct items out of 135.
Candidates who interpret in languages for which there is a full or abbreviated oral examination must take the foreign language assessment. Those who interpret in more than one language for which a full or abbreviated oral exam exits must take the assessment for each language. Candidates are advised to take the language assessment in the language they are most fluent first.
The foreign language assessment consists of translating 10 items from English into the candidate’s language. This test is administered the same day (immediately after the multiple choice part of the exam) and is rated on a pass, borderline or not pass basis. Candidates have one hour to translate the 10 items.
If there is no full or abbreviated oral exam available in a candidates' language, they do not have to take the foreign language assessment. Sign language interpreters are exempt from the assessment.
Candidates who do not pass the multiple choice exam must wait at least six months before registering to take it again and their foreign language assessment is not graded. Those who pass the multiple choice exam, but do not pass the language assessment must wait six months to take the assessment again. It is recommended that candidates do not take the same test more than once in a calendar year and, under no circumstances, the same version of the test more than twice.
CDI & Deaf Interpreters
Instead of taking the written exam, deaf interpreters are required to pass the CDI knowledge test. After passing the test in either its written or signed version, deaf interpreters must pass the CDI performance test within five years in compliance with RID requirements. Deaf interpreters are responsible for notifying the program each time they register to take the knowledge or performance tests and the outcome of each attempt. Deaf interpreters who have already taken and passed the CDI knowledge test must provide evidence to the program. Candidates must then complete their CDI performance test requirements within RID guidelines. Interpreters who already hold a CDI from RID are exempt from the written exam.
If you require special accommodation because of a disability recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), please print and complete the Request for Accommodation and Document of Accommodation forms and mail them with your registration form. Every effort is made to accommodate reasonable requests.