Interpreter testing can be daunting, especially if the candidate has not taken an exam in a long time. Here are a few tips that helped me prepare for written and oral exams.
study and practice... then study and practice more
remember you will need at least 3 months of intensive preparation for the court interpreter oral exam
if you are offered a test prep class, take it
understand the type of exam and how results are scored
know what subjects will be tested
create strategies to overcome problems during testing
if possible, drive to the testing location in advance to become familiar with the route, where to park, etc.
prepare over time instead of cramming at the last minute
use practice kits, study in groups
record yourself, then listen to yourself and evaluate your performance
do not work the morning before your oral exam if you are testing in the afternoon or after 1pm the day before your AM test
leave your electronic devices at home or in your car
breathe and smile
remain quiet and calm
use the restroom before the exam
visualize positive images and role models
use your repetitions (consecutive section)
take notes during the oral exam
remember that the people testing you are not rating your exam and may not even know the language
do not ask to stop the test unless absolutely sure you cannot or do not wish to continue- the rest of the exam will be counted as incorrect
take the exam seriously- many states have a limit on how many times you can test
eat well and drink water
while you are testing do the best you can and don't judge yourself after each mistake
Note-taking is a skill that is acquired then continuously practiced. Attending note-taking classes is helpful, but there is no secret set of symbols that will magically improve your consecutive interpretation. Symbols, abbreviations, memory exercises, chunking, comprehension of main ideas, linking, visualizing, and the ability to concentrate are just some of the components of good interpretation.
Research other interpreters' symbols and adopt what works for you. Invent your own symbols. Practice your symbols to test and memorize them. Try using spiraled notepads and writing tools that do not smudge or bleed, and organize notes by idea in a sequence that makes sense and are easy to decipher.