Alumni Testimonial #16 - Medical Interpreter Certification Sample Test

Aug 08, 2023

Carol Bautista Pabon Testimonial

“Medical Interpreting is not easy, but it's something I've always been passionate about.

I love the mix betting medicine and languages and the day I saw the opportunity of doing this course I felt more excited than ever.

I'm grateful with God, Dr. Lee, the MiTio team and my colleges for helping me through this process”


If you’re considering taking a certification course to become a medical interpreter, you’ll need to decide which agency you’ll test with and prepare yourself. In this article, you’ll see the various sections of the test for each agency, get study tips, and learn more about CCHI and NBCMI exams.

Sections of the Medical Interpreter Certification Test

Both the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) and the National Board of Certified Medical Interpreters (NBCMI) have written and oral exams that must be passed before becoming officially certified. 


CCHI Exams

The CCHI written exam covers:

  • Professional Responsibility and Interpreter Ethics (22%): Covers job tasks such as: maintain boundaries; maintain impartiality; assess the need for advocacy; address ethical dilemmas; present self in a professional manner; pursue professional growth; adhere to safety measures; manage stress.
  • Manage the Interpreting Encounter (22%): Covers job tasks such as: monitor one’s competence and limitations; manage unfamiliar terms and concepts; manage the flow of communication.
  • Healthcare Terminology (22%): Remain current on healthcare terminology and general vocabulary in working languages through research, continuing education, etc., to interpret accurately and completely. 
  • US Healthcare System (15%): Maintain working familiarity with the US health system as a part of a legal and socioeconomic environment with its own culture and organizational structure to predict and respond to events appropriately and navigate the system effectively.
  • Cultural Responsiveness: (19%): Recognize that individuals have different levels of acculturation and intracultural variation to avoid making assumptions that may misrepresent a speaker’s meaning. Serve as a culture mediator by recognizing when there is risk of potential miscommunication and responding appropriately so that each person’s own beliefs are expressed.

The CCHI oral exam requires you to:

  • Interpret Consecutively (75%)
  • Interpret Simultaneously (14%)
  • Sight Translate a written message (9%)
  • Translate a written message (2%)
  • Stay true to the message by considering cultural context and nonverbal content that maintains original intent. 

Both the written and oral exam are timed. The written test is a computerized, 100-question multiple-choice test, with 120 minutes allotted for completion. Candidates have 20 to 30 minutes before the test where the proctor explains the testing procedures, reviews the exam interface, and reads directions. A preliminary score is available as soon as the test is electronically submitted.

The oral exam is 60 minutes. The candidates have 20 minutes to test their audio equipment and controls to make sure everything is in working order, and that they are familiar with everything before they start.

The final exam score is not an average of performance in each subdomain. Instead, they are calculated with a proprietary formula, and delivered on a scale from 300 to 600 points, with a score of 450 required to pass. If a candidate fails, a 90-day waiting period is required until they may retake the test. Candidates may attempt the test up to three times a year.

Medical Interpreter Resume Templates


The NBCMI written exam is a 51-question, multiple-choice, computer-based exam that’s only offered in English. Candidates must pass this portion before moving onto the oral exam. It covers:

  • Roles of the Medical Interpreter (8%): Covers the role of the conduit, the role of clarifier, the role of culture broker, and advocating for patients.
  • Medical Interpreter Ethics (15%): Confidentiality, impartiality, professional courtesy, accuracy and completeness, conflict of interest, the scope of practice, professional development, disqualification/impediments to performance.
  • Cultural Competence (8%): Cultural practices related to healthcare in relational and familial structures.
  • Medical Terminology in Working Languages (38%): Medical Terminology in Working Languages, Medical Apparatus, Medical Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, Pathologies, Musculoskeletal System, Nervous System, Endocrine System, Integumentary System, Urinary System, Digestive System, Cardiovascular System, Reproductive Systems, Respiratory System, Treatments, Anatomy, Symptomatology, Pharmacology, Acronyms and Abbreviations (e.g., MRI, CAT)
  • Medical Specialties in Working Languages (23%): Obstetrics and Gynecology/Genetic Counseling, Nutrition Counseling, Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Pharmacy, Organ Transplant, Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT), Emergency Medicine, Surgery, Orthopedics, Oncology, Urology and Nephrology, Radiology, Physical, Speech, and Occupational Therapy, Neurology, Endocrinology, Ophthalmology, Hematology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Respiratory Illness.
  • Interpreter Standards of Practice (CHIA, IMIA, NCIHC) (5%): CHIA (California Healthcare Interpreters Association) Standards, IMIA (International Medical Interpreters Association) Standards, NCIHC (National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare) Standards.
  • Legislation and Regulations (HIPAA, CLAS) (3%): Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), CLAS (Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services) Standards.


CCHI vs. NBCMI Certification Explained


If you’re trying to decide which agency to certify with, it really depends on the languages you’re fluent in and your preference. Many interpreters opt to certify with both the CCHI and NBCMI.


The CCHI certification costs $485 for both written and oral exams and is available for Arabic, Mandarin, and Spanish. For any other language without an oral test available, you’ll receive a CoreCHI certification and pay $210. Your certification will remain valid for four years. To be eligible for recertification, you’ll need to obtain 32 hours of continuing education (16 hours for years one and two, and another 16 hours in years three and four) and pay a $300 recertification fee ($150 for years one and two and $150 for years three and four). Certification also requires 40 hours of healthcare interpreting experience, with 20 hours in years one and two, and the remainder in years three and four. 


Languages include Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. HubCMI is a written professional skills exam for languages where no oral exam is available from NBCMI. Pricing is the same as the CCHI.

Your certification will be valid for five years unless you certify in languages where no oral exam is available. In that case, your certification remains valid for four years. If you wish to certify in a language where there is an oral exam available but opt out of that exam, you’ll receive a non-renewable two-year certification. 

For recertification, you must complete 30 hours of continuing education over the course of your certification period. No healthcare interpretation experience is required for recertification. The recertification fee is the same as CCHI.

The written exam can be taken at a testing center or at home online with a proctor, regardless of which certification agency you choose.

Spanish medical terminology for interpreters

Study Tips to Improve Your Test Results

  • Create a study schedule so you’re not cramming the night before. Procrastination isn’t your friend.
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before. Eat a healthy and filling breakfast the morning of your test. 
  • Use flashcards to review medical terminology and practice sight translation. Use flashcards both ways and in a mixed order to stop you from simply memorizing things in order. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family members to help you.
  • Take good notes throughout your interpreter training course. Study those notes often.
  • Practice conversations in your target language to improve your interpreting skills for your oral examination. You can use the video resources we’ve included below for help.

Practice Video Resources For Medical Interpreters

Additional Medical Interpreter Testing Resources


At MiTio, our medical interpreter training prepares you for your certification exam. Compare our courses and contact us today to learn more.

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