How To Prepare For the UN Interpreter Exam

Key points:

  • Understanding the Role: UN interpreters need mastery of at least one of the six official UN languages and extensive knowledge of international affairs and specialized vocabulary.
  • Types of UN Language Exams: The UN offers Language Competitive Examinations (LCEs) in six languages with varying formats, requiring thorough preparation.
  • Importance of the Exams: The UN interpreter exam selects only the most qualified candidates, ensuring effective communication within the organization.
  • General Requirements and Eligibility: Candidates must demonstrate proficiency in at least three UN languages and possess relevant educational and professional experience.
  • How to Apply: Applications are submitted through the UN careers website, following detailed guidelines and submitting all required documents accurately.
  • Exam Format: The LCE includes written and oral sections, evaluating speed, accuracy, grammar, and diction in simultaneous interpretation exercises.
  • Preparation Strategies: Research the interpreter role thoroughly.
    Practice exam simulations for speed and accuracy.
    Stay updated on UN-specific terminology and current events.
    Gain practical experience through internships or volunteer work.
  • Post-Exam Opportunities: Passing opens doors to career opportunities within the UN, contributing to international diplomacy.
  • Ongoing Professional Development: Successful interpreters continuously update skills with new terminology and global developments.


Aspiring to become a United Nations interpreter is a commendable goal, but it’s one that requires passing a highly competitive and demanding exam. The UN interpreter exam evaluates candidates on their ability to perform at an official level in this prestigious role. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps and strategies to prepare effectively for the UN interpreter exam, covering everything from understanding the role to practical preparation tips.

Understanding the Role of a UN Interpreter

Before diving into exam preparation, it’s essential to understand what the role of a UN interpreter entails. UN interpreters are required to have mastery-level skills in at least one of the six official UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. Additionally, they must have exceptional knowledge of two other languages. Beyond language skills, interpreters must have extensive knowledge of the UN’s work, international affairs, and specialized vocabulary in multiple fields.

Types of UN Language Exams

The United Nations offers Language Competitive Examinations (LCEs) in its six official languages. The format and setup of these exams can vary, making it crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements for your chosen language.

Importance of the Exams

The UN interpreter exam is designed to ensure that only the most qualified candidates are selected. This rigorous evaluation process guarantees that interpreters can handle the complexities and demands of the role, contributing to effective and accurate communication within the organization.

General Requirements and Eligibility

To apply for the UN interpreter exam, candidates must meet certain eligibility criteria, including a high level of proficiency in at least three official UN languages. Additional requirements may include relevant educational qualifications and professional experience in interpreting or related fields.

How to Apply for the UN Interpreter Exam

Candidates can apply for the exam through the UN careers website. It’s important to thoroughly read the application guidelines and ensure all required documents and information are submitted correctly.

Exam Format and Components

The LCE for interpreters consists of a written and oral portion. The written exam includes simultaneous interpretation exercises, while the oral exam is conducted in an interview setting. Each section evaluates the candidate’s speed, accuracy, grammatical correctness, and diction.

Preparation Strategies

  • Research the Position: Understand the role of a UN interpreter, including the specialized vocabulary and international affairs knowledge required.
  • Practice Exams: Complete multiple practice exams, focusing on simultaneous interpretation. Use the UN careers website for examples of past exams.
  • Record Yourself: Record your interpretations to evaluate and improve your speed, accuracy, and delivery.
  • Stay Informed: Continuously research UN-specific terminology, current events, and cultural differences in the languages you will be interpreting.
  • Practical Experience: Gain hands-on experience through internships or volunteer opportunities that involve interpreting.

Post-Exam Opportunities

Passing the UN interpreter exam opens doors to a variety of career opportunities within the United Nations. Interpreters can work in various UN bodies and agencies, contributing to international diplomacy and communication.

Ongoing Professional Development

Successful UN interpreters never stop learning. Engage in ongoing professional development to stay updated with new terminology, technologies, and global events that impact your interpreting work.


Becoming a UN interpreter is challenging but highly rewarding. By understanding the role, preparing thoroughly for the exam, and continuously developing your skills, you can achieve your goal of becoming a UN interpreter. The rigorous examination process ensures that only the most qualified candidates succeed, making this a prestigious and impactful career.

Call to Action

Ready to take the next step towards becoming a UN interpreter? Start by researching the role and familiarizing yourself with the application process for Translation Excellence. Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!



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People Also Ask

Q: How to prepare for an interpreting test?

A: Regular practice with both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, using authentic materials. Record and review practice sessions, expand vocabulary and seek feedback.

Q: How to become an interpreter for the United Nations?

A: Proficiency in at least three UN official languages, relevant degree, professional interpreting experience, and passing the UN Language Competitive Examination (LCE).

Q: How do you become a UN interpreter?

A: Meet language proficiency requirements, gain relevant education and experience, and pass the LCE.

Q: What are the language requirements for UN interpreters?

A: Flawless command of one UN official language and exceptional knowledge of two others.

Q: What are the qualifications for an interpreter?

A: High proficiency in at least two languages, relevant degree, professional experience, and specialized field terminology.

Q: Does the UN hire translators?

A: Yes, the UN hires translators for written texts alongside interpreters for spoken communication.

Q: How much do UN interpreters make?

A: Salaries vary by experience, language pairs, and location but are generally well-compensated.



Nisar, the dynamic force behind Translation Excellence, stands tall as its founder and CEO. This isn’t just any company—it’s a global heavyweight in boutique language services. Hailing from the vibrant city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Nisar brought his passion and expertise to the U.S. shores in 2001. In the realm of languages, he’s a titan. With 19 years under his belt, he’s worn hats from a linguist and instructor to a cultural bridge-builder and curriculum craftsman.

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