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Test Translation Deadline
Thread poster: aimanjohari

aimanjohari
Malaysia
Local time: 20:17
English to Malay
Nov 5, 2013

I just did a test of approximately 700 words for an agency, which I realize is much larger than most tests, but what surprised me, the agency expect the test to be completed within 1 hour (with additional 15 minutes given if not enough time). This test was also divided into several paragraphs relating to different fields. In this case, do you think a test of that length to be completed within 1 hour is reasonable? Right now, I'm kind of feeling dejected because I know I did bad and I can do better than that. This is simply because I didn't have enough time to proof read it properly given such a short deadline.

 

Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:17
Member (2003)
French to English
Unreasonable Nov 5, 2013

It's unreasonable on several levels – it's far too long and it's far too short a time to complete it in, particularly if it's a mix of different fields (and that's odd in itself: were you defiinitely asked to do all of them, not just one section?). If your experience is an accurate reflection of this agency's approach to translation then I'd be wary of working for them in any case.

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:17
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
A test tests many things Nov 5, 2013

aimanjohari wrote:
I just did a test of approximately 700 words for an agency [and] the agency expects the test to be completed within 1.25 hours. This test was divided into several paragraphs relating to different fields.

In this case, do you think a test of that length to be completed within 1 hour is reasonable?


No, that is not usual, because one tends to do one's bestest best in a test, and triple check things where one might otherwise only double check, so a test can reasonably be expected to take longer than an ordinary translation. But even if you believe that a test translation should reflect your usual quality and not extra best quality, translating 700 words from various fields in 1.25 hours is quite steep. The only thing I can think is that the agency wants to see how well you translate under pressure. There is nothing wrong with testing that, since poorer translators who work under pressure would make more mistakes than they would otherwise make.

Right now, I'm kind of feeling dejected because I know I did bad and I can do better than that. This is simply because I didn't have enough time to proof read it properly given such a short deadline.


Well, I think they owe you some kind of feedback. Keep in mind that they may have been testing your raw speed and not your nett quality.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I'd be wary, too Nov 5, 2013

Karen Stokes wrote:
If your experience is an accurate reflection of this agency's approach to translation then I'd be wary of working for them in any case.

Samuel might have a point when he says maybe they are more concerned with seeing how you work under pressure than with the quality produced. Maybe they see a valid reason for that - after all, which one of us has never had to work under pressure? Still, in that case I'd have expected them to make the objective clear before the test began.

But I'd seriously wonder where this is going and what would be in it for you. If you're a translator who's proud of the quality you deliver, then this could (not inevitably, but possibly) be the start of a nightmare. If they consider the quality of your test to be adequate, what's to stop them always expecting 700 wph, hour after hour? After all, you passed the text.


 

Ragland Inbaraj  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:47
English to Tamil
+ ...
Value not known Nov 5, 2013

The agency should be informed earlier that it is not possible to deliver a quality test result in such a short time by you. Test pieces need enough time atleast a day to go through.

 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:17
German to English
No rush tests, no rush jobs for new clients Nov 5, 2013

Acceding to ridiculous requests at the start of a business relationship is a recipe for abuse.

I don't think that even my established customers would expect me to translate 700 words in an hour.


 

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:17
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
700 word for a test Nov 5, 2013

700 words are not a test, they are a text. I would have informed the agency that a test consists of 200-250 words. The time factor set by the agency also means the agency will expect the same speed as you accepted without a murmur. Also the fact that the test consisted of bits and pieces so you do not have the whole picture where you can accurately surmise the gist of the text, so you would need more time. I had an agency recently which asked me if I was willing to take a test of 500 words, and I replied that usually tests consist of 200-250 words. The reply was that I was to translate the first 300 words-still a lot, but acceptable; in fact the agency then sent me 300 words, not 500, but there was no time limit and there was a section where I could put comments, where I said that since these were excerpts, I did not have the whole picture, so could only surmise. I was positively impressed by the agency though, as it also showed how it was going to grade my work, and admitted a test usually consisted of less than 500 but that they had a new PM in charge-maybe they were testing me. I hope you learn not to accept everything an agency demands from you. GL. Wait for the result, then tell them your side of the story.

 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:17
Member (2008)
French to English
200 words, max. Nov 5, 2013

Josephine Cassar wrote:

700 words are not a test, they are a text. I would have informed the agency that a test consists of 200-250 words. The time factor set by the agency also means the agency will expect the same speed as you accepted without a murmur.


Next they will probably want to pay you no more than what they think your hourly rate should be divided by 700 words.

Personally, I don't accept tests more than 200 words and then not at all if I'm busy (most of the time). For translators who are just starting out more tests might be done, but they still shouldn't need to be more than 200 words. If the client can't discern your ability within 200 words then there is a problem.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:17
English to German
+ ...
Not worth the hassle Nov 5, 2013

aimanjohari wrote:

I just did a test of approximately 700 words for an agency, which I realize is much larger than most tests, but what surprised me, the agency expect the test to be completed within 1 hour (with additional 15 minutes given if not enough time). This test was also divided into several paragraphs relating to different fields. In this case, do you think a test of that length to be completed within 1 hour is reasonable? Right now, I'm kind of feeling dejected because I know I did bad and I can do better than that. This is simply because I didn't have enough time to proof read it properly given such a short deadline.


And you haven't heard from them back, right?
And you're not going to get paid for it, right?
Unpaid or paid test translations of any kind? Just say NO!
I am sure you have a resume and references, maybe even sample translations. That's enough to impress your prospective clients.
Test translations under pressure - 700 words within 1 hour in various fields? Just say NO.
They don't know what they're doing. Unprofessional. Any quality translation is always carried out within an adequate and reasonable amount of time.
If someone is asking something of you that is impossible to do, they're no professionals.
Next thing you know they're going to pay you late at a very low rate or not at all.

None of this is worth the hassle.



[Edited at 2013-11-05 20:32 GMT]


 

Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:17
Russian to English
+ ...
I don't accept tests with deadlines Nov 5, 2013

I rarely do free tests and when I do I don't accept ones with deadlines. If you are doing it for free on your own time it should be done whenever you can find time in your schedule for it and NOT immediately. Paid projects always take priority over tests.

 

Mikko Solja
Finland
Local time: 15:17
Italian to Finnish
+ ...
Sounds like they're using you... Nov 5, 2013

I agree with everything said here before. Personally, I would never agree to doing a TEST translation that long!

 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:17
French to English
+ ...
No deadline, unless the test is for a specific, well-defined job Nov 5, 2013

Sarah McDowell wrote:
I rarely do free tests and when I do I don't accept ones with deadlines.


I basically agree. Paid jobs have deadlines. Non-paid tests with no specific job at the end of them (a type of test I'm very wary of) should be fitted in as a low priority task.


 

Catherine Chen  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 20:17
English to Chinese
+ ...
Only with reasonable deadlines Nov 6, 2013

Sarah McDowell wrote:

I rarely do free tests and when I do I don't accept ones with deadlines. If you are doing it for free on your own time it should be done whenever you can find time in your schedule for it and NOT immediately. Paid projects always take priority over tests.



I agree with Sarah. When agents ask for free test, the max volume I would take is 300 words. Good agents usually pay you if word count is more than 300 (in my case).

About deadline, that depends on my paid work. If I have the time I don't mind working within the REASONABLE deadline given. Otherwise I would explain to the agent and ask for more time. More often than not it's understood.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:17
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Quick turn-around is simple business courtesy Nov 6, 2013

Neil Coffey wrote:
Sarah McDowell wrote:
I rarely do free tests and when I do I don't accept ones with deadlines.

Paid jobs have deadlines. Non-paid tests with no specific job at the end of them ... should be fitted in as a low priority task.


Yes, these tests can have a "low priority" in your books, but there is no need to tell the client that. Do you also tell your clients "oh, I have a more important job to do today than yours"?

Quick response and quick turn-around will win you clients. If you have a lot of work in your schedule, by all means schedule the non-paid test later in the week, but do not simply move it to the "bottom of the pile" (and certainly not repeatedly). The client is waiting for your test translation, and will appreciate clarity on its status. It is common courtesy to let the client know by what date he can get the translation back... and then to deliver it by that date as if it is a paid job.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:17
English to German
+ ...
Courtesy? What courtesy? Nov 6, 2013

Samuel Murray wrote:

Quick response and quick turn-around will win you clients.



Maybe. But what clients? I would be very careful about providing test translations.
Actually, I am certain it's the other way round. You don't win much at all, if anything THEY win someone who is willing to adhere to their rates and terms and conditions which are usually inadequate (my experience). Don't kid yourself, as a newcomer, you are just easy prey. Don't think you HAVE to do this to get a job.

If you have the skills, you are entitled to the courtesy that any professional deserves. Your services should be considered based on easily obtainable information. That means: advertise your services. Point out how you obtained your language skills (education and life experience) and provide them a sample from your fields of experience or point them to your profile page or website. Tell them YOUR terms and conditions.

I don't consider it courteous if I am expected to "play" the test translation game, especially if it's unpaid and with unrealistic deadlines. It's all just a run to win?! = be selected for a cheap job.
Clarity? What do YOU know about the job you might be offered upon winning the test translation competition? What do YOU know about the outsourcer? How often are you going to be chosen? If so, what do you really "win"?!


You can't make a living based on winning test translations the purpose of which you know little about. It's better to see yourself as a business or service provider who is proud of what he/she can offer and can make the point about quality without having to provide tests. Tests are for schools/students, not professional translators.

If someone offers to pay for a "test" translation they need, tell them how much it costs and consider it a project, not a test.

A suggestion to all translators who accept tests: Change your mindset. You are a service provider, outsourcers are possible clients. Courtesy in business must be a mutual effort. To be treated like a student who has to take a test is not a common business courtesy.

B

[Edited at 2013-11-06 19:01 GMT]


 
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