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Test Translations, hope I am in the right Forum
Thread poster: Fabiana Papastefani-Pezzoni

Fabiana Papastefani-Pezzoni  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 12:31
Member (2003)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Mar 20, 2007

Hi colleagueZ,

I know this topic has been discussed before and in fact I was trying to search in the forums in order to understand what is generally accepted as a limit of word-count for a translation tests.

I do not think 1624 word can be acceptable, but there is a trick. They have structured the test in three parts, needing to check if I/a translator fits in any/all of the three fields they operate on. Would you take this test/part of it?

Many thanks for the opinion.

Fabiana


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Margit Enzenmuller
Local time: 10:31
English to German
+ ...
Sample test Mar 20, 2007

They are really there for you to get the nature of the text. I think a long text is loosing its point. After all you are yet quoting and not translating.

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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 12:31
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
dividing in parts Mar 20, 2007

Dividing the so called test translations in parts seems to be a typical practice for some type of agencies. When I receive such things I forget about it immediately - seriously, more than 1500 words is way too much! And when you complete that test and send it to the agency they later claim it wasnt good enough (usually it works like this: we accept only translators who were evaluated with "5" while your score was "4"). Been there, done that!

I once asked the question about the acceptable size of translation tests and if my memory doesnt let me down the general idea was that some 250 words should do.

My personal attitude nowadays is - I do translation tests only in 2 cases: I desperately want to work for the agency in question OR at the point in time when I receive the test Ive nothing else to do.
Hope this helps.

Stella


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Fabiana Papastefani-Pezzoni  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 12:31
Member (2003)
English to Albanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you bramasole and Margit :) Mar 20, 2007

Margit Enzenmuller wrote:

They are really there for you to get the nature of the text. I think a long text is loosing its point. After all you are yet quoting and not translating.


In fact that what I was questioning about. They would like to know if I/the translator meets the reuirements for the three areas they are trying to recruit. Fine with that. In that case I think their samples should be far shorter and not 550 words each. I would be (probably) fine with translating three differnet samples, to see where I fit, but it just doesn't seem right to me.

The limit of 250 words should put any agency in the position to understand if they like a translator or not.

Thank you

Fabiana


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:31
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I agree Mar 20, 2007

bramasole wrote:

Dividing the so called test translations in parts seems to be a typical practice for some type of agencies. When I receive such things I forget about it immediately - seriously, more than 1500 words is way too much! And when you complete that test and send it to the agency they later claim it wasnt good enough (usually it works like this: we accept only translators who were evaluated with "5" while your score was "4"). Been there, done that!

I once asked the question about the acceptable size of translation tests and if my memory doesnt let me down the general idea was that some 250 words should do.

My personal attitude nowadays is - I do translation tests only in 2 cases: I desperately want to work for the agency in question OR at the point in time when I receive the test Ive nothing else to do.
Hope this helps.

Stella


I agree with you, Stella. 300 words is quite enough for a test. And with the few tests I've done (also when I've nothing else to do), I've never received a reaction from the agency that contacted me "urgently seeking new translators". Maybe it works occasionally, but not in my experience.
However, if Fabiana is not too busy at the moment, it might be worth doing the test, just for experience.
Best wishes,
Jenny.


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 21:31
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Trust your instincts Mar 20, 2007

Hi,

I think you can get an idea of an agency by having a good look at their website, looking at their terms and conditions and judging from the content of any emails you may have exchanged with their PM etc. If, after that you feel like it is an agency that you'd like to work with and feel that it wouldn't be a complete waste of your time doing the tests then go for it. The really good agencies are even happy to pay for tests, but they are few and far between.

A few days ago we got an email from an agency who sent us 12 tests! Some around 400 words, some only 150 and in various subject matters. The gist was that they like their potential vendors to complete as many of the tests as possible but at the very least, 2 or 3. I didn't really have such a good feeling about them, but then maybe that is an efficient method of finding good translators and knowing what areas they do excel in for when the need arises.

So trust your instincts. May turn out to be a great agency that gives you regular, interesting work with prompt payments for years to come, on the other hand........:)

Good luck,
Mark


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Fabiana Papastefani-Pezzoni  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 12:31
Member (2003)
English to Albanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
True :) Mar 20, 2007

Chinese Concept wrote:

Hi,

I think you can get an idea of an agency by having a good look at their website, looking at their terms and conditions and judging from the content of any emails you may have exchanged with their PM etc. ....



In fact I looked and it turned out it is not an agency, but a company that produces, softwares, CD, Science movies, artitic, etc. Apparently they do not want to deal with agencies and they would like to select the translators directly. The email exchange until now has been of a professional language. So...


Chinese Concept wrote:

So trust your instincts. May turn out to be a great agency that gives you regular, interesting work with prompt payments for years to come, on the other hand........:)

Good luck,
Mark



That's what I am ponderating now!!! Could ask the company to take the same tranches of tests but for smaller (shorter) sapmles. That would make a lot more sense to me.

Thanks to all


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 12:31
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
companies Mar 20, 2007

Fabiana Papastefani-Pezzoni wrote:
it is not an agency, but a company that produces, softwares...


This reminds me of the longest sample test I was sent - some 10 (!!!) pages in total - by a localization, software making company who were looking for translators. Dare I say - they never heard from me again...;)

Stella


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Marian Vieyra  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:31
Member (2007)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Test Translations Mar 20, 2007

Regarding long-winded test translations - I am always suspicious of any agency asking for lengthy tests to be translated - who on earth is sifting through the translations and how much time have they got?

It would appear that some agencies/companies are getting translations done for free then just tidying up the result. A really good agency would set a short, difficult piece relevant to their field and quickly judge who delivered the best version.

Ciao
Marian


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 05:31
English to Russian
+ ...
It's not so much how many words but who is requesting the tests Mar 20, 2007

There is US agency with about 40 excellent BB records here. I not only work for them for 15 years, I helped to start it in 1993-1994. I'm not the only one to stay with them to this day, currently in a freelancer capacity. We started from scratch in the midst of a very tought competition in the same city alone. It's been their policy since Day 1 to test their translators. What you get from them is much more than 1624 words:-). It's 5-6 pieces ~300 words each in 5-6 totally different fields into each language you declare as your working language. You are free to do anything from 1 to all (or nothing, for that matter:-).

Nobody there believes that 200 words is enough to reveal a new Shakespeare fit for a particular project, or simply join an excellent team that has survived and is thriving now with million-dollar projects in their history and current portfolios while tons of competitors had gone into the oblivion a long time ago, and this policy is a big part of their success. Investigate your clients! and see for yourself if an attempt to get a piece of them is worth the trouble. Their editors are in charge of putting together the team they'll have to work with, and until they are familliar with everything from grammar to style they will not put themselves and/or the agency in a harm's way.

The other 2 later additions to my client base do the same. Guess what - they pay well and in time, and only 3 sources of translation work (aside of my prime interpretation contract) feed me for full 11 years. Guess again - I was referred by their trusted source and I have already been working for one of them for 2 years as an interpreter yet when the new translation project came along and the new professional editor was hired, he sent me a project-specific test! Good for him:-).

I forgot the meaning of marketing, all occasional jobs come from the word-of-mouth source. Don't you think it's worth something, including going through extensive testing?

They also remember the legal side of the problem - an equal opportunity employer thing. Testing one person and embracing another just because he is somebody's nephew:-) can bear legal consequences thus every personal file contains a written test signed by an editor. It may not be applicable to remote freelancers but it certainly is to the in-house teams. Amateur translation agencies are often very sloppy and irresponsible when it comes to a formal side of business, and today too many of them are amateurs in all senses but formal registration.

I would not do a 15-word test for some "yahoo.com seeking potential translators for a potential job" outsourcers. I would pay attention to everything from geographycal location to the rates of the translators currently working for them.

I consider testing to be an integral part of our trade... unless, of course, your portfolio and translation samples can impress anyone without any further ado. But then again, I must be sure that this is your work:-). If you think that some people won't ask a friend or even pay for a 150-word test to get there - think again:-). As a former PM, I know...

Irene

PS - yes, once or twice you might get tricked, maybe once or twice you'll get rejected for objective reasons arising from a specific project rather than your overall skills but don't whine for too long over a waste of your precious 200 words:-). For as long as you must seek them before they start seeking you, those minor losses come with the territory.

Any client relying solely on CVs and 150 words and treating any brand new suitor as anything but a self-proclaimed geniuos is suicidal!

[Edited at 2007-03-20 19:29]


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the Train  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:31
English to Arabic
+ ...
Speak Up Your Mind Mar 21, 2007

Why not select part of the text that you feel is worthy of translating, no more than 200 words, and do it. Explain to the agency that you are busy and you selected the part where it mattered.

Better still, prepare samples of your work in the fields they require and send them instead... every time somebody asks you to do a test.

A colleague asked 'and how do they know this is my translation?'.. ooookaaay.. and do they know the test was not taken by someone else?

It's either they are trying to make you do work for free, or they are trying to play important. I know tens of colleagues who adamantly refuse to take tests and they still get the job.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:31
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Perhaps you should do just one Mar 21, 2007

Fabiana Papastefani-Pezzoni wrote:
They have structured the test in three parts, needing to check if I/a translator fits in any/all of the three fields they operate on.


Sometimes an agency has a generic test translation documet containing sample texts from a variety of subject fields. The idea (if I understand correctly) is that the translator chooses a subject field that he is most comfortable with, and then translates only that one.

If you said to the client "I do 300 words for tests" and he sends you a 1500 word document, do 300 words (or do a section of it of no more than 500 words long). Unless you're desperate for the job.


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Fabiana Papastefani-Pezzoni  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 12:31
Member (2003)
English to Albanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Very right Samuel, and The Train :) Mar 21, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:

Fabiana Papastefani-Pezzoni wrote:
They have structured the test in three parts, needing to check if I/a translator fits in any/all of the three fields they operate on.


If you said to the client "I do 300 words for tests" and he sends you a 1500 word document, do 300 words (or do a section of it of no more than 500 words long). Unless you're desperate for the job.


The profile of this company (it is not a translating agency/company) looks good. They show a cosiderable amount of informaiton and details per each of the sectors. The way I see it is that they would like to find for each of those products translators in differnet languages and apparently they like to operate this way. It is only that they a bit long and I also was thinking (will follow your advise) to say: I will take the parts of the test I feel I can do, and no more then 300 words.

Thank you all for the hints,

Fabiana


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invguy  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 12:31
English to Bulgarian
It's a two-way thing Mar 22, 2007

Sorry to chime in a bit late, but I think there's another aspect of test translations that may be worth mentioning.


Just as an agency needs to know whether I'm good at my job before starting to work with me, so I need to know whether they are up to certain standards before I bother to quote. A test translation request is IMHO a pretty good way to get an idea of this.

As soon as I see the text that is intended to test my translator's skills in some of my fields of expertise, I could judge reasonably well:
_________________

a) whether the agency specializes in the field or this is just an occasional job;

If they do specialize, the text would contain one or two points whose translation would reveal how well I *understand* the subject, not that much my ability to google for terms.

One of the best test texts I've ever received was some 150 words total and consisted of two completely separate - however carefully selected - paragraphs. Pity it did not come from an agency but from a local company (I say "pity" because they rarely need translation services). It was about a machine tool manual and their chief engineer did the selection.

If, conversely, the agency only needs a translator for the odd out-of-profile job, they'd often simply crop out an excerpt "which doesn't contain tables and formulas"...
_________________

b) whether the agency is working in my language pair (regardless of what their website says);

II they are, the text would ideally contain at least one sentence/statement that needs to be completely rephrased due to specific differences between source and target language.
_________________

and, c) whether they are professional enough to be confident in their own judgement.

A redundant test translation would rather make me pass. A professional agency should (IMHO, again) be able to get the necessary information out of not more than 200-300 words. If they provide an aggregate test for a number of fields, presuming the translator would take more than one, then they could go with even less.

Anyway, they need to be able to both select the appropriate text and estimate the result. If they are able to do this, then asking me to translate 1000 words for one field or project means they don't value my time. Not the best message to start a cooperation, I'd say...
_________________

Last but not least important, the selection of the test text gives a general idea about the agency. If all other info says that they do specialize in my field/s and language pair, and are experienced enough, but still the selected text is not appropriate, it might mean that they're requesting the translation only formally, or that they've got a new kid on the block - or that they're just sloppy. Happens.
_________________

Back to the topic: like most everyone else, I am reluctant to do lengthy test translations. But it's not because I'm unwilling to spare the time or because of fear that someone's going to use my work for free. It's rather because such requests give me bad signals about the agency.

A test translation request is a *bidirectional* exchange of information. Agencies that have realized this would hardly send you something that would cause you to ponder.


P.S. Of course we're not living in a perfect world, so the test translations we receive are usually far from ideal. Yet I think it helps to have some distinct criteria on the matter... even though this might seem futile at times...


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gulperi
France
Local time: 11:31
English to French
+ ...
More than 1500 words, WAY TOO MUCH! Mar 31, 2007

Hi there,

I also do think that a 1500 words test is too much.

I generally do not accept tests of more than 300 words just because it will take me too much time.

When I started, I was doing all the tests (long and short) to find translation jobs but often didn't get any replies from the agencies!

Now I refuse them and agencies are quite understanding about that!

Did that help ?



[Edited at 2007-03-31 18:20]


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