Tests and reviews
Thread poster: Igor Indruch

Igor Indruch  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 15:56
English to Czech
Jan 14, 2009

Generally, I do not do tests, because my experience is that an agency requiring test seldom gives you any work. But sometimes the agency has good rating at BlueBoard and job seems to be interesting...

But what drives me crazy is when I receive "failed" result with some reviewer's comments and I see quite clearly that it was not me who made a mistakes, but reviewer. How agencies choose their reviewers? Well, I know something about that too - in several occasions I was asked to do a test, and almost immediately to do a review - of the same text translated by my "competitors". So - is it possible that in such system some less honest translators try to "eliminate their rivals" by negative reviews?

Has anybody similiar experience?

Ooops - sorry: I did not notice that there is already a post with very similar subject - I overlooked it and noticed it only when just "Business category" was displeyed after posting... so - maybe some moderator can move it there? Thanks... The post is: "Getting back test results" by Amaud HERVE...

[Edited at 2009-01-14 08:25 GMT]


Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:56
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Credentials of reviewer Jan 14, 2009

I have bundles of similar experience.
Two years ago, I did test for a Scandinavian agency for construction equipment translation test.
I got the results which I rarely get out of any trial translations.
The reviewers [2 of them] told that my wording and grammar were bad.
I was laughing. I have been a lecturer on civil engineering [construction] as well as a civil engineer for 25 years. I wrote so many many texts, reports and articles about construction equipment. I also have a number of students in civil engineering [construction].
The agency told that their reviwers were expert in the field.
I got enlightments that translation test is just a leisure time brain-washer. I will never be serious about it.
Now I still do trial translation if I have time.
Soonthon L.


United States
Local time: 06:56
English to Arabic
+ ...
Test translations do not make good business sense Jan 14, 2009

Greetings to all.

Test translations do not make good business sense because:

(1) that process of "testing" involves additional time and effort in the requesting agency AND the responding translator(s) who do such a test (one might also wonder if the requesting agency is paying another translator to assess and evaluate the submitted "test translation[s]"?).

(2) the subject matter may not be familiar to the translator being tested. and that fact injects an inherent factor of ambiguity in the accuracy and fidelity of the submitted translation.

(3) if a test is being required pursuant to an actual (fee-paying) project sitting on the desk of the PM at that agency, that logic is especially broken and counter-intuitive.

(4) unless the subject matter of the test item directly relates to a functional area, industry, technologies, business sectors or subject domain of the agency's customers, the agency is effectively engaging in a "flailing exercise" of irrelevance.

Alternatives to doing a "test translation" thus seem to be:

1. In lieu of a test translation, offer to provide a previous translated product and its related source document as a sample of your productivity (and insuring that you have the permission/non-objection of the previous client to submit that sample, even if you sanitize the client's identity)

2. Accept and undertake a "test translation" only as a paid project accompanied by a signed PO or WO from the requesting agency

Hope this helps.


Stephen H. Franke
English - Arabic, Kurdish and Persian
San Pedro, California


Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:56
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
I do test translations for anyone who asks me Jan 15, 2009

Hi all,

I'll do a test translation for anyone who asks me, after doing some credit checks, when I have the time to them and when my rates don't pose a problem.

I've been a full time professional translator for 8 years, now. I cant give references: I've signed more NDAs than I wish to remember, so I just won't tell for whom I've worked and how I've been able to survive in this business.

Most new clients don't ask me for tests because my Internet track record shows I've been around for quite some time. But I've no problem with those who do send me a test translation.

I'll do the test, within an hour after receipt, to show the client I'm capable, available and up to the job. And then I'll do nothing. I'm proud of every translation that leaves my computer. I'll never ask for a reply or for the reviewed version of my test. It's up to the client to choose another translator. I prefer to have clients who have been persuaded by my potential and who calll or e-mail me.

In the past 10 years I've submitted maybe 10 test translations. With the first one I landed one of my biggest clients. The second one, for an Amsterdam-based agency, was big and payed, and I failed miserably. I sometimes re-read their e-mails, when I'm becomming to pleased with myself. I've forgotten all details about the subsequent tests. But I do remember spending at least two days to prove two 'editors' wrong.

But then again, I work for a Paris-based marcom agency where they have a real editor for my Dutch translations. He has a way to improve my translations every single time. That's how we learn.



Local time: 15:56
French to Dutch
+ ...
Same as Gerard Jan 15, 2009

I cannot provide references, never translated a book and therefore test translations are the only way to show how I translate. In most cases however these test translations are for existing clients who want to submit several writing styles to a new end client.

Sometimes very strange things happen. For one agency who promised lots of work in a field where I have lots of experience, I went through a rather complicated test procedure. I translated some small files, no comments, no feedback, everything was fine, got paid, and did some work for a new brand, which was refused by the end client (feedback: "all kinds of spelling and grammar mistakes, horrible style, etc."). Then the agency organized a "test" and the end client picked out mine. I translated two or three other small files, which were refused by the end client ("worse than the first texts, next time please give our translations to a real translator").

I think the economic circumstances have a lot to do with this. A client or agency which doesn't want to pay will find a way to prove that there is a "lack of quality". Of course I cannot work for such clients.

Another factor is that there is a lack of translators in our language pairs, and I suppose agencies have problems in finding proofreaders, so they ask a beginner.


Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:56
English to French
+ ...
Bitching around Jan 15, 2009

Sometimes there are economic explanations, but sometimes it's more in psychology.

Once I was working for a large international medical organization, and I was asked to stop because the manager for translations had said I was not a native.

Because my agency knew me personally and thought there might be a confusion somewhere, I was given the phone number of the manager, so he could check I was a native.

So I talked to him on the phone and at the end of the conversation I asked him if he still believed I was not a native. He replied "No, it's deeper". Just that, he remained obscure like that. What a cop out, not grammar, not vocabulary, not skill, not dedication, just something "deeper", that nobody could identify.

And it turned out that, guess what, he himself was not a native!

On that day I began to doubt the seriousness of the translation world. The non native telling the native he was not a native...

He was talking to me on the phone with his accent, his foreign phrasing and hesitations, and he was telling me I was not a native.

And that guy went on unsanctioned, receiving his pay until retirement I suppose. I don't know how many people he prevented to work like that.

So in the case of reviewing, there are certainly people who avail themselves of the opportunity to bash out potential competitors, but I suspect there are also a number of people who just profit of the anonymity to be a bit nasty, just like that, because it's more or less their own temper.

Not everything is rational in business life. There are people who stop fluently going on work processes, just because they feel the urge to be unfriendly.

Yes, people like that do exist. You sometimes meet some.


Michael Korovkin
Local time: 15:56
Russian to English
+ ...
I need advice: to do or not to do a 3000-word test for a potential book transl. Feb 4, 2009

Dear colleagues,

I'm not new in translation (i.e. 30 years of simultaneous, etc) but completely green as far as working with on-line clients.

One of them posted a job for a book. I applied. They sent me a small test fragment without asking what I charge. I translated the fragment; and now they sent me 3k words, still without asking about my rates. Nor have they commented on a short test translation that I did.

I translated 5 of my own novels from english into Russian (believe me its harder than translating somebody else's stuff!). Four of them have been published in Russia to a certain acclaim. My books apart, I've also translated into and ghost-written books in English. So, I suppose I can afford an immodest statement or two about the quality of my translation.

The trouble is, that hesitant as I am by nature, I translate rather slowly. Not a survival trait, that, eh? So, for me 3000 pages done well is at least a day.

What do you guys think? I mean, would any of you do it? Or, p'ps translate, say a half and that's it?
Besides, there is all matter of psychology in it, i.e. accepting, meekly, such a long test bespeaks desperation, doesn't it? I'm not desperate and don't want to make a mistake of appearing as such.

Please advise. THANKS in advance to all of you! Michael.


Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Member (2008)
German to English
My opinion on the 3000 words - no, no, and no! Feb 4, 2009

Michael Korovkin wrote: Dear colleagues,
I'm not new in translation ...They sent me a small test fragment without asking what I charge.... now they sent me 3k words, still without asking about my rates. Nor have they commented on a short test translation that I did.

I'm not sure why you would even consider doing this (and 3,000 words is a perfectly suitable amount to take up a full 8-hour day if translated and proofread diligently), but my answer is that you should definitely NOT do it.

Three strikes and you're out - test without discussing rates, 3k words without discussing rates [and no offer of payment?!], and no feedback so far - no, no, and no!

Unless you really have so much spare time on your hands - no chores you need to do, no shopping, no family, no taxes, no cleaning, no snow shoveling, no movies to see, no news to catch up on, absolutely so much of *nothing* to do and so bored that you are literally itching to get your hands on some task, there is absolutely no reason to do this much work for free. I don't think any reputable agency or company would request such a thing.

Watch your back!!


Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 15:56
German to Serbian
+ ...
For Michael, YES but must be strategic Feb 4, 2009

Hi Michael,

They sound very dodgy, not having provided you with feedback/ revision on the initial small test translation, and now asking for an additional 3k word translation. I wouldn't trust them.

However, you can negotiate further, e.g. tell them that you have very strict standards when it comes to test translations and that you can only take free test translations up to 500 words. Anything longer than that must be paid for, however, you will be ready to give them the test translation money back once they hired you for the full book translation ( and this hiring must be legally supported with a serious contract ).

Also, tell them that your test standards involve the necessity of a professional revision / evaluation on their end, and that you want to be provided with an evaluation report. If they disappear after you have told them this, you will know you've been dealing with amateurs / scam.

Hope I helped.


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