Quite strange approach to testing. Please, advise.
Thread poster: Valeria Burova

Valeria Burova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 01:58
Member (2014)
English to Russian
Feb 12, 2016

I work as a translator for 8 years and this was the first time I have faced such approach to testing:

I was provided with timed (1 hour) test in web browser divided into 5 different pieces (it was stated they are generic+retail) where source text was absolutely not editable.

I just want to share my concerns in terms of how well such tests reflect real quality I would deliver during paid translation job.

However I delivered this test, at least I tried what is it, I shall note that this is quite strange approach to testing - as during translating it is only translator's concern how much time he/she spends to translate the text as long as he/she delivers perfect quality and sticks to deadlines - in this particular case the test was timed test for some reason and it is not similar to the way we usually work.
In real life a translator sometimes may google or think on some phrase for half an hour in order to provide the most proper, correct and beautiful (if required) variant. And we always provide our daily capacity in advance taking into the account such details of our work.

Also not editable source text that doesn't allow to copy it in order to insert it to the dictionary or google which also affects the time for performing and final quality of translation (for instance I could do it faster if the source was editable and that would allow me to think more on the sentence structure and the most proper way to say things).

And the third is just the thing I noticed about the tests quality - it was stated that the texts in test are generic + retail, but it turned to be not completely true because there was United Nations topic as well and the piece about Google Android which was more of mobile marketing rather that just retail.

Normally you are never forced to do timed tests as far as I know and you get at least one day to deliver it...

Dear colleagues, could you share any ideas on that? Have you ever faced similar testing methods and how grounded it is really?

May be I should leave some feedback about this for other translators?..

Thanks a lot!

[Редактировалось 2016-02-12 12:04 GMT]

[Редактировалось 2016-02-12 13:17 GMT]

[Редактировалось 2016-02-12 18:28 GMT]


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Henriette Saffron  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:58
Member (2013)
English to Danish
I think I understand the agency's approach Feb 12, 2016

I had a similar experience yesterday. A subtitling agency gave me 45 minutes to complete a test in seven parts (translation, transcription and understanding of source and target languages). I even had to transcribe in English, which is not a service I provide, and I didn’t have time to proofread thoroughly or run a spell check in Word.

I think/hope the agency knows that when you translate with one eye on the clock you have to write the first thing that enters your head, and if you can perform well under that kind of pressure your real life work will be better. If you get everything wrong because you don’t have time to consult a dictionary or can't copy/paste the text into Google Translate or send it to a more qualified translator then you are probably not the person they are looking for. I often wonder how some of the translators, whose work I proofread, managed to pass the same tests I had to take, so I fully understand the agencies’ need to come up with ways to separate the wheat from the chaff.


[Edited at 2016-02-12 13:37 GMT]


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Ksenia Sergeeva  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 01:58
Member (2013)
English to Russian
+ ...
It's your choice to do the test or not Feb 12, 2016

I totally agree with Henriette's post above.

It seems like I passed the test you described, and I loved the challenge. And I also loved the fact that I didn't have a chance to fall into procrastination while I was at it. Just joking.
The agency wouldn't want a translator who needs 30 minutes to think over some phrases in the test. They perfectly understand that this can happen in real life, but probably they also know that there are no such phrases in the test they offer. And if we're talking about the same test, it wasn't actually THAT time-pressing, I've had enough time to google things and use a dictionary.

My point is, it's your right not to do the test. And it is the agency's right to select translators based on the criteria they set. I don't see why you should warn other translators. And how exactly would you do it? "Beware of agency XXX, they have high standards"?


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Valeria Burova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 01:58
Member (2014)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
It was not subtitling Feb 12, 2016

Henriette Saffron wrote:

I had a similar experience yesterday. A subtitling agency gave me 45 minutes to complete a test in seven parts (translation, transcription and understanding of source and target languages). I even had to transcribe in English, which is not a service I provide, and I didn’t have time to proofread thoroughly or run a spell check in Word.

I think/hope the agency knows that when you translate with one eye on the clock you have to write the first thing that enters your head, and if you can perform well under that kind of pressure your real life work will be better. If you get everything wrong because you don’t have time to consult a dictionary or can't copy/paste the text into Google Translate or send it to a more qualified translator then you are probably not the person they are looking for. I often wonder how some of the translators, whose work I proofread, managed to pass the same tests I had to take, so I fully understand the agencies’ need to come up with ways to separate the wheat from the chaff.


[Edited at 2016-02-12 13:37 GMT]


I think it is a bit different for subtitling job and for regular written translation, and I have previously met such point at forums here that normal agencies give a test without such strict time frames.


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Henriette Saffron  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:58
Member (2013)
English to Danish
... Feb 12, 2016

Ksenia Sergeeva wrote:

"Beware of agency XXX, they have high standards"?


Hmm, for some reason I would not consider that a warning.

Valeria Burova wrote:

I think it is a bit different for subtitling job and for regular written translation, and I have previously met such point at forums here that normal agencies give a test without such strict time frames.


I don’t see the difference. Whether you translate written texts or subtitles you should be able to demonstrate that you have the skills.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some agencies used to act like bosses. It seems they prefer to play school teachers now. Feb 12, 2016

I imagine that's because school-children have even less chance of answering back or standing up for their rights than employees. No chance of kids feeling as though they're anything like equals. Oh no! We didn't even get to be on first-name terms with teachers (perhaps kids do now) and they literally had the power to cause physical pain in my days. I can think of some agencies who give the impression that they would be up for a little corporal punishment for translators who (in their view) misplace a comma.

It's up to each of us to decide whether we're ready to adopt the role of naughty kids to be told what to do and given tests and punishments every five minutes. Or skilled professionals able to provide quality business services to a client company.

You can provide proof of your abilities without jumping through all these hoops. That's just demeaning. As a translator specialising in marketing, where there isn't a clear dividing line between a good translation and a bad one and nuances/synonyms CAN AND DO make a difference, I'm quite happy to work on a small sample of a potential client's own copy as it will show them how I intend to handle it. Another translator might produce an equally good but quite different translation, so the client (or someone capable of advising them) needs to be able to compare the styles. Of course, I first have to establish that they're ready to agree to my T&C, otherwise any test would be a total waste of time.

But I left school behind me over 40 years ago (ouch!) and I'm not going back now.


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Valeria Burova  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 01:58
Member (2014)
English to Russian
TOPIC STARTER
Agreed Feb 12, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

You can provide proof of your abilities without jumping through all these hoops. That's just demeaning. As a translator specialising in marketing, where there isn't a clear dividing line between a good translation and a bad one and nuances/synonyms CAN AND DO make a difference, I'm quite happy to work on a small sample of a potential client's own copy as it will show them how I intend to handle it. Another translator might produce an equally good but quite different translation, so the client (or someone capable of advising them) needs to be able to compare the styles. Of course, I first have to establish that they're ready to agree to my T&C, otherwise any test would be a total waste of time.

But I left school behind me over 40 years ago (ouch!) and I'm not going back now.


I always believed small test sample that you can do thoughtfully is much better than something similar to what I described aiming I don't even understand what - with no idea of quality in mind.. I also specialize in advertising/marketing and understand what you say very well.

Thank you!


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:58
Member (2014)
English to German
Up to you Feb 13, 2016

Ksenia Sergeeva wrote:


My point is, it's your right not to do the test. And it is the agency's right to select translators based on the criteria they set. I don't see why you should warn other translators. And how exactly would you do it? "Beware of agency XXX, they have high standards"?


It is up to you whether you want to do the test. Certain tests I just cannot resist, I am drawn to them, e.g. multiple choice. On the other hand, I do hate timed tests of any kind as it stresses me, so I usually don't.

However, I find that the agencies with the most elaborate testing appear to be the least professional and low paying agencies. The better agencies don't seem to do that, well, that's my impression ... maybe they give you smaller jobs and then have those checked thoroughly - this would seem a more efficient process to me?

[Edited at 2016-02-13 08:22 GMT]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 00:58
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
At least it prevents cheating Feb 13, 2016

I have never encountered such a procedure and would probably not comply. But this test approach at least prevents the translator from outsourcing the translation and deliver a "perfect" sample without the required experience.
When applying for becoming a certified translator (at least in my country) the applicants sit in a class room and have 2 hours for a test, without net-access, only paper dictionaries. From the whole group only two pass at a time. At least in the past this was the procedure, don't know how they do it these days.


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Texte Style
Local time: 23:58
French to English
Agree with Sheila Feb 13, 2016

Although I would also say that whatever the format of the test, talent always shines through.

I remember complaining while doing my Masters a few years back because the exams took place in 19th century conditions (i.e. pencil and paper)

The teacher explained that they had tried to do an exam with computers but it had been fraught with technical problems. After weighting what the students had submitted to take these glitches into account, they noticed that the students who had handed in the best work were the same as those who had handed in the best pencilled papers too. So they decided to stay in the 19th century.


In the case you describe, I would be wary of the agency then expecting you to be able to drop everything and translate a text in similar conditions within the next hour.


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Christina Baier  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 23:58
Member (2014)
French to German
+ ...
Agree with Henriette an Ksenia Feb 13, 2016

I did such a test some months ago.

I first hesitated, it felt like being back at school, doing exams, but then I thought of it as a nice challenge (I checked that it was an agency with a good reputation). I had 1,5 hours for a more general 300 words text. I passed the test and the agency has since become one of my favorite clients. They are extremely well organized, have a big and varied client base, communication with the PMs is nice and they send me 1-2 small jobs every week.

I can understand the agencies point of view: If you have several days to do the test, how shall they know that the translation they get is really yours? In a globalized world, where everyone can claim to be a translator, it is difficult to decide whom to work with. You could have outsourced the text, taken help from anywhere… They will compare your translation to others, done under the same circumstances. If you need to look up only a few words or expressions, the time saved by copying them will not make a big difference. If the whole text is too difficult to translate in the given time, others will fail too.

It’s up to you to decide if you want to do that, I am glad I gave it a try.


Edited: And they do have reasonable deadlines for the translations they send me

[Edited at 2016-02-13 11:27 GMT]


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Dani Karuniawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 05:58
English to Indonesian
+ ...
That's not a test Feb 13, 2016

Здравствуйте!

That's not test, instead, a cheating to get free translation from "test" participants. If the firm has a project with 10,000 words, they simply broke them into 100 parts and use them to "test" 100 participants. This way has a fatal flaw, i.e., varicolored translation, which make the result ugly. But, as long as its clients are stupid, this cheating technique is efficacious to get big money at zero cost.

Some "black hat" smart project managers know this weakness. So, they create a scam to get free editor or free proofreader under "test", pro-bono, or crowd sourcing reasons.

Instead of following test, try to provide translation samples on your blog as I do on https://danitranslatorpenerjemah.wordpress.com for English> Indonesian, Russian > Indonesian, and Russian English> and Indonesian > English. If I should follow a test, I only provide 50 paid sample words. Do you know why? Because 50 words already represent your performance. Ask payment at low rate merely to test if they are cheaters. A test with more than 50 words is an effort to get, obtain, and collect free translations or to get their project done at 0 rate.

Read this article written by Rossitsa Iordanova and my comments below it https://theopenmic.co/the-easy-peasy-life-of-the-translation-project-manager-on-test-translation-part-2/ Half of this article is useful for you.

Note: Don't use this knowledge to create translation scams.

[Edited at 2016-02-13 13:19 GMT]


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:58
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, a lot of it is cheating, unfortunately, Feb 14, 2016

to get free translations. Some big corporations have those standard tests later checked against some matrix translations (one version of translation accepted only, usually not that grand). Sometimes they lose them. So, no—I would no longer take a translation test when the text exceeds 250 words. No exceptions.

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Quite strange approach to testing. Please, advise.

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