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Medical Assessments

ALTA’s Interpretation Practice Test

The interpretation test developed and administered by ALTA Language Services encompasses all of the important skills one must use in an interpreting situation. It is a 30-minute test that requires you to interpret from English to the target language, and from the target language to English. The test deals with different types of speech, a variety of vocabulary, and dialogue units of different lengths. You must be able to deal with idioms and phrases, and must be able to handle both formal and conversational speech.

Here are some important things to remember when taking the test:

The test is designed for candidates who have practiced the skills specific to the task of interpretation, whether in a training course or by self-study. An individual who has excellent oral skills but who has not completed any sort of interpreter training will likely find ALTA’s interpretation test to be very difficult.

The interpretation test is given over the phone, with two evaluators participating (one for each language). One of the evaluators will provide these instructions at the start of the test:

  • You are allowed to take notes on paper during the test, but you are requested to start interpreting as soon as the evaluator stops speaking. You are not allowed to use any electronic device (tablet, computer, smartphone) to take notes or look for words.
  • You will interpret the English portions into the target language, and you will interpret the target language portions into English.
  • Please do not begin interpreting the given unit of dialogue until the evaluator is finished speaking.
  • You may make 2 requests for repetition over the course of the test. If, after these 2 repetitions, you are unable to interpret a given unit of dialogue, the evaluator will simply move on to the next portion of the test.

Here are some tips for candidates preparing to take the test:

  • The test is not progressive – that is, it does not start off at a low level of language and become progressively harder. After a short warm-up involving common greetings, difficult vocabulary and structures and basic vocabulary and structures can occur within the same units of dialogue. The dialogues are written to replicate authentic conversation.
  • The longest dialogue units are between 35 and 50 words. These occur several times throughout the test. There are also several units that are very brief – i.e., a single phrase or short sentence.
  • The vocabulary in the test is varied. While there are a number of words and phrases related to your profession, there are also general idioms and instances of slang that would occur in conversational dialogue.
  • The candidate is expected to able to adjust his or her register – that is, to be able to switch from more formal to less formal speech, and vice versa. This skill is tested a handful of times during the test, with various phrases and grammatical structures that are of a higher or lower register than the surrounding dialogue.
  • You will be scored in two categories: accuracy and fluidity. Your overall score takes your score in both categories into account.

Sample Medical Interpretation Test (Spanish)

The practice test has 6 dialogs. The regular test has an average of 20 dialogs and is 30-minute long.

If you have additional questions, please call us at 1-888-465-4648 or emails us at [email protected]

Preparing for your test?

View our test prep materials or FAQ’s for common questions about taking a test.