Is doing translation tests beneficial for future projects?
Thread poster: Maria Knorr

Maria Knorr
Local time: 11:21
+ ...
Aug 30, 2002

I would like to ask professional translators for advice. Is doing translation tests beneficial for future projects?

Thanks for advice



United States
Local time: 08:21
English to Arabic
+ ...
No. Offer to send samples of previous products or references Aug 30, 2002


Re the value of \"translator tests.\"


1. No.

2. Althernately, you can offer to (1) send samples of previous products or (2) provide references of satisfied customers.HTH. Good luck.

3. If the firm insists that you perform a \"translation test,\" you have the perfect right to insist that the firm pay you for your time and effort to do that production.

=== A corollary question you might also pose: is the firm not going to pay someone else to assess and evaulate the \"test product\" you provide?

Hope this helps.

Regards from Los Angeles,

Stephen H. Franke


Xiao Mei Tian  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:21
English to Chinese
+ ...
No more tests! Aug 30, 2002

Go to, you may find your answer.


Kevin Harper  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:21
German to English
+ ...
If you want work, do the test! Aug 30, 2002

If a translation agency has asked you to do a test translation, it\'s probably part of their policy. Depending on the agency, that policy may be consistently to test all translators on their own terms.

I you want to work for such an agency, you have to do the test - on their terms. If you insist on getting paid for it, and it is not part of their system, you details will be probably be binned (unless they are really desperate for your language combination).

I used to work in-house at an agency. We asked all new translators to do a short test (usually 1 page), which was then consistently analysed by one of the top translators on our list. Also, the first paid job went through the same checking system.

If an agency is going to the trouble (and expense) of testing you, they probably have faith in your skills and need another person with your language combination. In languages we had regular work for, we always gave people a first real job.

It isn\'t just the translator that has to do \'work for free\' when they are being tested.


Golden View  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:21
English to Chinese
+ ...
It depends Aug 30, 2002

It\'s reasonable for an agency to test translators with small pieces for a large volume project; as a translator, you can decide to go-ahead or decline, subject to the project conditions and your own confidence to that agency.

Of couse some clients request too much test translation, or use real project to ask for free test translation, again, it depends on your confidence to the client, if you think it worthy for possible future return, just do it, if you think 200 words still too much as a test, then take a break and do something else.

My personal thinking only.



Lilian Vardanyan
Local time: 18:21
Greek to English
+ ...
I have been tested a month ago ! Aug 30, 2002

Hello dear colleagues!A month ago I was suggested to translate two samples before getting a job. The answers for my translations have not come out yet, as the translating agency where they were sent had their specialist at his vacancy. I was quite upset as I had to wait for the accreditation so much time!!!!


Erika Pavelka (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:21
French to English
Hardly worth it... Aug 30, 2002

I did tests for numerous agencies when I first started out, and I received work from one of them...

I offer samples or a reduced rate for a test, but no free tests. I would, however, consider a free test if the text is short (no longer than 300 words) and if the test is for a specific (larger) project.

My two cents,



United Kingdom
Local time: 16:21
English to German
+ ...
Tests are a nuisance (but) Aug 30, 2002

Especially when you are busy and an agency sends you a test with a deadline. But they are very useful too, even to yourself because you can assess your own skills.

If your test result is good and they need someone they will offer you work, unless they think your rates are too high, that\'s my experience. The problem is the person checking it. I once was sent back a corrected test and found that the checker just wasn\'t up to the job. I still passed the test and was offered work. So now, if it is a particularly tricky text I enclose annotations to explain my translation choices, just to be sure the person assessing it really understands them.

I never refused a test but I guess if you do you can forget about that client/agency. If I ran an agency I\'d certainly test new translators no matter what qualifications and experience they claim to have.


Local time: 16:21
English to French
+ ...
Always do tests Aug 30, 2002

As a project manager at a translation agency I can offer the following insight:

1. If you\'re a starting out or inexperienced translator, it\'s probably the only way you\'ll gain the trust of an agency

2. If you\'re experienced, and you have the time to spare, then do the test - what can you lose! (possibly a large contract, if you DON\'T do the test)

3. Don\'t expect to hear back immediately or even at all. The agencies client might not make a decision for months. The agency may lose the job, and it could have been down to your test!!! So don\'t pester the agency

4. No matter how good you think you are, there\'s always someone better so don\'t ever be complacent. If your regular clients go quiet all of a sudden, you may be relying on people who know you less well. Offering to do a test translation makes a great impression. It shows you are willing to go the extra mile where others won\'t.

5. Even if nothing comes of the test, don\'t be sour. The project manager will probably feel guilty enough for asking you to do it for free that when another job comes up in your field and language combination he/she\'ll think of you!



Silvina Beatriz Codina  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:21
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
My personal experience Aug 30, 2002

The only time I got work from an agency as a consequence of a test it was a (free) test for a specific job. The agency liked my test and they gave me the project. I have been working for that agency for years now.

I did some tests for agencies that asked for such tests as a requirement to include me in their database. I never got any work from any of these agencies, not even from the ones that approved my tests. I did get work from agencies to which I sent samples of my work, or from agencies that gave me small (paid) projects for starters. Which, at least in my case, is a far better way to analyze my skills, after all, I tend to take more seriously a translation I\'ll get paid for, even if it is very little.

As a consequence I have changed my policy regarding tests: what I do now is send short samples of completed projects (with any company or people\'s names and other such information x\'ed out), or accept only tests for specific projects.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-08-30 16:38 ]


Local time: 17:21
Flemish to English
+ ...
tests....... Aug 30, 2002

I set a limit on the number of words I am prepared to translate. If the company offers you a test of 500 word, tell them that as a matter of principle you do not translate more than, say 200 words. If they really want to see if you can translate, they will not mind. If they want to take you for a ride, they will probably try to get it done by some other sucker.

I rarely perform tests but, if the job seems worthwhile, I set a limit of 150 words.


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