Anybody been asked to invigilate exams?
Thread poster: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:53
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 6, 2014

Not sure whether to post this under business issues or scams.

I've been asked, via Proz but via an address that is "either not registered with Proz or not logged on", by a "leading provider of certification examinations" in a certain EU country to act as invigilator for an hour and a half somewhere relatively near me. The service provider exists and looks legit, and I was about to reply saying I don't do that kind of work (plus they want to pay 40 euros plus expenses ...!), but then I thought why bother replying at all.

All you have to do, apparently, is receive exam papers at your home, take them to the centre, invigilate to make sure no one cheats (!!!!) and then send the exam papers to Germany. I don't know why they are asking me as a translator to do this, and they don't say why either. After all, I or anyone else they ask could just turn up there and announce to the entire room that everyone can cheat as much as they like for 100 euros a head. I would be quids in, but their certification credentials would be a little shaky.

All the best,


Mervyn


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:53
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I imagine they need to avoid language barriers Nov 6, 2014

Mervyn Henderson wrote:
I don't know why they are asking me as a translator to do this, and they don't say why either.

You don't give much information but I assume you're not corresponding in Spanish, the language of the country where the exam is to take place.
After all, I or anyone else they ask could just turn up there and announce to the entire room that everyone can cheat as much as they like for 100 euros a head. I would be quids in, but their certification credentials would be a little shaky.

They've contacted you as a professional, not as a criminal. I imagine they're expecting you to behave like one. OK, you don't see this as your line of work, but they weren't to know that.

I've invigilated EU certification exams in France but there was a very good reason in that case - I was already acting as the examiner for the business English orals.

As for the fee, it sounds on the low side but rates in Spain can be very low and still be thought of as "normal", as I'm sure you know only too well.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:53
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That's my point, Sheila ... Nov 6, 2014

... in that they contacted you for that job because you were already part of the larger network. I don't know much about the ins and outs of their certification process, but if they are a "leading provider of certification examinations all over the world", as they say they are, presumably all this is in place already and they have people to deal with it. Why take a chance with someone they've just found after trawling through Proz?

And no, communication was in English, not Spanish, though the country concerned is not English-speaking.

Anyway, I'm not risking even the polite refusal, because as far as I can see the only possible scam value is confirming my e-mail is active by replying. They don't say anything about "payment up front" followed by a disproportionately huge overpayment, followed by a request to send them the difference, in the well-worn tradition of some scammers.

And ES-EN rates are low, but not that low, surely.

Best,


Mervyn


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:53
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Cheating at exams Nov 6, 2014

This reminds me of the time when I was a student and one of our number intercepted the postman who was bringing the exam papers. He then offered the examination papers for sale. I didn't buy them. Somebody then denounced him, and he was sent down from the University. The examination papers had to be rewritten. I often wonder what happened to him.

The offer described here looks a bit strange to me. It might be best not to have anything to do with it.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:53
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Up to you but it doesn't sound very "scammy" to me Nov 6, 2014

Mervyn Henderson wrote:
they contacted you for that job because you were already part of the larger network.

Actually, they'd contacted me for the previous job in exactly the way this one is contacting you - they knew I taught English and their normal person had let them down.

And ES-EN rates are low, but not that low, surely.

Well, the Spanish minimum hourly wage is not much over EUR 5, so EUR 40 for 90 minutes sitting in a room reading a newspaper (or whatever) and glancing up occasionally doesn't seem too bad to me.


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:53
French to German
+ ...
Very strange Nov 6, 2014

This seems very strange to me!

Why send those papers to a translator they do not know and not directly to the center?

I often was an invigilator the last 20 years. The procedure was very similar everywhere I was. The papers arrive in a sealed envelop in the examination center. You need to be two or three persons to open the envelop just before the test starts (so that it is guaranteed that the initial seal still is there and that the envelop has not been opened before)...

I think I'd give them a phone call, discuss with them and look what a feeling I have.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:53
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Minimum wage ... Nov 6, 2014

... is one thing, and what a translator can earn in an hour, even here, is quite another. I hate to bring up the ubiquitous burger-flipping comparison, but it did cross my mind today.

Anyway, I had already decided I wasn't going to invigilate, and it was just a matter of whether or not to reply. Yonks ago I invigilated "O" and "A" Level Spanish and French exams at a British school in Spain, but I was the French and Spanish teacher there and I had to do it, and I even wrote the Spanish exams for an Irish university when I worked there for a few years in the 90s, but I was the lecturer and again I had to do it. Like Andrea says, there were all sorts of paranoid security procedures with that kind of thing, and now I can't understand why they contact people in this way.

Returning to the original question, though - has anyone else (I mean in the north-west corner of this country) been contacted today or in the last few days through Proz to invigilate exams? Just me?


Best,


Mervyn


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Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 14:53
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
I might know them Nov 6, 2014

If we are talking about the same company, they are "a leading provider", indeed, nothing fishy. I was contacted a couple of years ago and I did a couple of jobs for them.

I've been serving as an examiner and inviligator on different occasions (I am a certified teacher), so I think that was the reason I was approached in the first place. They use special software, and this could be another reason they prefer hiring translators, at least we work with CAT-tools.

I cannot comment on the rates because Australia is more expensive than Spain and I have always been offered full day jobs.


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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sounds OK to me Nov 7, 2014

It makes sense to me as well. They need someone in your area, and don't have a regular person for this one-off job. They may have picked you for the same reason that a company specializing in orienting newcomers to our area called me out of the blue based on my ProZ.com profile. The rep told me that they liked contracting with translators, as we are educated free-lancers who are available to work by the hour or day. (In this case showing around new hires for a local company and helping them find housing, schools for their kids, and all the rest. I declined, but was not suspicious in the least.)
It is also very possible, since you have been an instructor and an invigilator in the past, that they called a local university and someone in the office there recommended that they call you.
I suggest you check the IP addresses of "visitors" who have checked out your profile, to get an idea of when and I why they focused on you, how many times they came back to it, and so on.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 06:53
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Most people don't cheat at exams Nov 7, 2014

Mervyn Henderson wrote:
After all, I or anyone else they ask could just turn up there and announce to the entire room that everyone can cheat as much as they like for 100 euros a head.


You are unlikely to get away with it. Most groups of exam writers have people in them that feel so strongly about the effort that they put in to get good grades that they will feel cheated themselves if cheating on the exam is allowed. And they will rat you out.

The fact that they ask you to do this shows the high regard that they have for you and your professional status.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:53
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Only joking, Samuel ... Nov 7, 2014

... I wouldn't contemplate it. What I mean is that I or anyone else have no loyalty ties to any part of the process.

By the way, for general interest here's the original e-mail, with the specific refs removed. I can't see why they rate me so highly professionally or morally if they ask for my CV at the same time:

+++++
Dear Mr. Henderson,
I was hoping that maybe you could help us.
The XXXX is a leading provider of certification
examinations all over the world. Focusing on XXXX professions,
XXXX plays a large role in certifying the know-how of
professionals in over 90 countries on 6 continents in 10
languages [they supply the website URL].

We presently need an invigilator in XXXXX [a place near me] for [date and time - one hour and fifteen minutes]. The work is straightforward, it is really a manner of receiving the exam
papers at your home, bringing them to the exam center,
supervising the exam candidates to ensure no-one cheats and
then returning the exam papers to us.
The payment for this exam would be 40.00 Euro plus travel
expenses.
If you are interested, can you please send us a brief copy
of your CV (half an A4 page is fine) plus a recent photo
with your address and phone number via e-mail.

Thanks in advance!

Best regards,
+++++


Best,

Mervyn


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:53
Member (2014)
English to German
I do find these practices a little strange Nov 7, 2014

As a teacher I invigilated every year (the hardest part was staying awake), then in recent years schools have hired external invigilators who come in for a couple of hours for about GBP10 per hour or less. These external invigilators do not bring the exam papers, neither are they responsible for executing the exam and following the long, long list of guidelines.

As an examiner for one of the UK boards I know that there is a lot of admin involved to make sure guidelines and procedures are followed to the dot. To me it seems unimaginable that a board would send out exam papers to anyone, without prior training and ask them to execute one of their exams.

But then you never know...


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