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Article: Marketing Your Translation Services: Test Translations—To Do or Not to Do?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 04:50
Jun 25, 2005

This topic is for discussion of the translation article " Marketing Your Translation Services: Test Translations—To Do or Not to Do?".

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Patricia Posadas  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Excellent conclusion! Jul 26, 2005

I never saw it this way but as I went on reading the end of the article where translation tests are discussed I couldn't stop nodding...

However, there are two types of translation test I always do:
a/ when it is related to a real job to be assigned by the agency
b/ when an agency asks me to do it in order to get them a contract (these are the ones I really give the best of my ability to succeed)
And I have often got good jobs this way!

Otherwise, tests asked for when entering my details into a database when I started looking for agencies to work for never gave me a single document to translate... And I took many, so many that I used to receive them and do them mechanically, quickly, just to get rid of them, I guess some of them were not top notch:-(

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Ana Medeiros  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Translation tests Aug 11, 2005

I wonder if some dishonest agencies use the tests as a way of getting translations done for free.

I have already done some tests and most of them were useless because I didn't get a project.

Shall we reject translation tests???

[Edited at 2005-08-11 22:23]

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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:50
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Maybe Nov 16, 2005

Ana Medeiros wrote:

I wonder if some dishonest agencies use the tests as a way of getting translations done for free.

I have already done some tests and most of them were useless because I didn't get a project.

Shall we reject translation tests???

[Edited at 2005-08-11 22:23]

I have wondered about this myself many times. I think some agencies DO that. I used to do every "test" translation required to apply for a job. Some short, some as long as 600 words.
I don`t do it anymore. Exception: when it`s very short, not more than 100 words, required for a long potential job or a well known agency. Very seldom, though.
Open your eyes, be careful, watch out! There`s a jungle out there, guys!


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Siv Astrom  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
+ ...
Sample translations - or not? Nov 18, 2005

Friday, November18 2005

-Working time without payment!?

Of course money is the best.

If you don't have time, is busy, you didn't translate this sample-text.
But, if you have some days without so much to do - isn't it a kind of marketing?

The SAMPLE-translation - a way both for the future client and you to help each other do business.


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Titia Meesters  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
Member (2005)
English to Dutch
Test translations can be effective Nov 30, 2005

In my experience of the past 5 years I received nearly all the better jobs after having completed a test translation for the agency involved. This was all in the medical/pharmaceutical field. I only complete a test translation if I can somehow (e.g. via Blue Board) confirm that I really want to work for the agency. Most tests are not longer than about 200 words and I find it reasonable and responsible if an agency asks you to show an example of the quality of your work. I would not do a very long 'test translation' for free. One time I received a relatively long test and I replied that I did not have time to do such a long test, and than they asked me to do only the first half of it which was OK. It is also my experience that agencies appreciate if you ask them any questions you need to know to deliver a good translation - e.g. who is the target audience.

On the contrary, I have had most problems with some clients who gave me jobs without confirming the quality of my work by a test translation.. in my experience those were the less well organized clients..

It is however quite possible that this positive aspect of test translations is more applicable to the medical/pharmaceutical field than to other fields.

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
Italian to English
+ ...
Interesting topic Nov 30, 2005

With respect to Tita's post, I too work in the medical/pharmaceutical field but have different experience with test translations, so may be it's more to do with the language/country than the field, or perhaps each person's experience is so different that it's impossible to generalise.

I think I've had all sorts: from agencies who never took the trouble to send me feedback, even after I reminded them to do so (and they confirmed receipt of the reminder), to agencies which rejected my test for spurious reasons (one of them dared to tell me that "organisation" was a spelling error, which really got me furious!), to agencies for whom a short test has led to interesting, well paid work, to agencies who offer an initial short, paid job which serves as a test, to agencies never mentioning a test but creating all sorts of problems a few months down the line, to agencies which never mention a test and turn into long-term clients.
So from my point of view, it's impossible to generalise. The only thing I'd say is that if you are prepared to do an unpaid test, specify that it must be shorter than x words or characters. 200 words or 1500 characters is reasonable for you and enough for the agency to see whether you're up to the job. For extremely large jobs where the client/agency wants a larger test, I personally wouldn't do it unless it was paid.

[Edited at 2005-11-30 19:38]

[Edited at 2005-11-30 19:39]

[Edited at 2005-11-30 19:40]

[Edited at 2005-11-30 19:42]

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Luisa Fiorini  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
Partial member
English to Italian
+ ...
competitors evaluating your job Jan 2, 2007

6) And the most important reason is an ethical problem—I would call it "who are the judges"? Usually the evaluation is done by the unsuspecting applicant's direct competitor! This situation undoubtedly affects the evaluation process at a conscious or subconscious level.

what I experienced working in a translation agency is really astonishing:
I worked in a translation agency that has all the samples into italian evaluated by a freelance translator (always the same person). She delivered back 20 files saying that 20 out of 20 samples were terrible and that the agency should delete those translators from its database. Then she added "If the client sends you the project I am available. Just send it to me and I will translate without mistakes!" The samples were not translated by new applicants but by highly experienced translators who had already been working for this agency. Nevertheless, the holder of the agency (not even able to use Wordfast or Trados) decided to delete them.
I think that this is a really unfair behavior on that freelance side.

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Umang Dholabhai  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:20
English to Gujarati
+ ...
Tests are a farce most of the time Dec 10, 2008

I have been asked to give tests and never been informed of the evaluations. As mentioned in the article, I too had an uncanny feeling that the evaluator could have been a direct competitor. An interesting aspect of such tests is that many a times you may become one of the principal translators for the agency which was not too satisfied with your performance in the first instance, thus the conclusion.

[Edited at 2008-12-10 18:44 GMT]

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Andrei Yefimov  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:50
English to Russian
+ ...
not all agencies are the same Dec 19, 2008

While I agree that most of the tests are not worth being completed I would also like to mention that I have had positive experience in this matter. I passed some of the tests in the past and now I do regularly receive jobs from these agencies, and they actually pay a decent rate.


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:50
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Good, but see author's followup article Jan 8, 2010

Andrei had some second thoughts later:

Authors articles are very good and useful, always.

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Article: Marketing Your Translation Services: Test Translations—To Do or Not to Do?

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