ATA testing
Thread poster: adria mooney

adria mooney  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:40
German to English
Apr 16, 2004

I am a new translator and recently became a member of the ATA. I want to take the test but I have no idea what to expect. I don't want to waste my money on it if I am not prepared to pass it, but there is one scheduled in my area in one month from now. Does anyone have any advice as to how the test is structured, what tools are allowed, the topics of the translations, etc.? Thank you!


Ildiko Santana  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:40
Member (2002)
Hungarian to English
+ ...

a luxury item IMHO, but if you can afford it, go for it Apr 16, 2004

Hello Adria,

The tests are not too difficult; you have quite a broad range to choose from, and the time allowed is reasonable.

Last time I tried for it there were 4 texts from 4 specialty fields (business, legal, technical, literary) and one generic - if memory serves me right.

No tools are allowed, only printed dictionaries. That can give you a hint of where they stand as far as testing your skills in the usage of all the goodies of our technically over-developed age. No electronic tool is allowed. Zip. Zero. You can bring a suitcase full of printed dictionaries, though. Also, tests are to be submitted in handwriting only. Yes, it does sound strange, in the year 2004!

On my first test they said I had failed but they had no sufficient reasoning, so I disputed and they sent my money back; my second test was supposedly been discussed by two graders (one said I passed, one said I failed), but the final word never came, so after my third reminder they just sent my money back. Both cases were dragged out forever. I haven't tried again since.

In case you decide to give it a shot - Good luck to you! 8^)


Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:40
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
check out ATA website Apr 16, 2004
It's worth browsing through the site and I am sure there is ample information about the exam itself.
Exam rules (especially evaluation methodology) changed January this year.

good luck!


Carley Hydusik  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:40
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, check the website Apr 16, 2004

Note that the exam has changed recently, so there are fewer text passages to choose from now, but you also have to submit fewer. Look on the website for the details.

Also, note that ATA offers practice tests. The only problem there is that you wouldn't be able to take one in time for the upcoming exam.

Good luck!


GoodWords  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
Details from ATA Website Apr 16, 2004


Certification Program Changes Announced

-ATA Certification Program Mission Statement
-A Guide to ATA Certification
-ATA Certification Exam Guidelines for Candidates
-Framework for Standardized Error Marking
-Tips for Candidates
-ATA Practice Test

Frequently Asked Questions about ATA Certification Program

[Edited at 2004-04-16 13:32]


Harvetta Asamoah  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:40
French to English
+ ...
Follow the Source (Text) Apr 17, 2004

Hi Adria,

I just took it two weeks ago and admit that I'm still thinking about the translations.

There are new eligibility requirements to sit for the exam. These are on the ATA website. Their purpose, I understand, it to ensure that candidates have a real chance to pass.

Not to intimidate you, I hear that there is about a 20 percent pass rate. The grading process is described in an article in the Chronicle, Oct. 2002, page 57-58 and 76.

The timing is crucial -- if you take it, I suggest taking every single second of the three hours. For "into English," the finest points of English grammar and usage are really tested.

Graders told me at the ATA Conference to "stick ***very*** close to the text!" I think that is in the advice to candidates on the website. The translations can't be too literal, of course, and can't be "too freely translated." That is all on the ATA website.

[Edited at 2004-04-17 02:36]


Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:40
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
My two cents Apr 17, 2004

I passed the Russian into English test a couple of years ago and here's my advice:

1. If your "favorite" dictionary doesn't have tabs on the side for the letters of the alphabet, make tabs out of post-it notes. That saved me heaps of time.
2. Don't look things up until you are finished with the rest of the text (basic test advice).
3. Keep re-reading your texts until time is up or until you are ready to puke. You shouldn't second-guess yourself, but instead look for dumb mistakes and punctuation, etc. When I re-read my business/finance text for the 10th time I discovered that I had left out an entire sentence.icon_smile.gif
4. Write neatly - I think they count it as a mistake if they can't read a word.

My only other observation is that the grading seems pretty spotty. Another woman who took the test with me and has much more experience than I do didn't pass. But she was working in a totally different language pair with different graders. It's like interviewing for a job - you have to make the interviewer like you.

So I wouldn't bother taking the test unless you've got the money and time to spare. Membership is what most clients look at. I'm not sure any of the people I work for even know what kind of "certificate" or "accreditation" it is. But then again, who knows.

Sorry this is so long. Good luck!


Samantha Janci
Spanish to English
ATA membership May 10, 2004

I'm wondering, besides a step to eligibility to take their test, what's the main benefit of being a member of ATA? For a $100+ fee, it's got to be something worthwhile...



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