Acing Translation Tests
Thread poster: AshliHelen

AshliHelen

Local time: 12:10
French to English
Jun 30, 2012

I am currently trying to get established as a translator by hopefully finding a job within a translation company. I've noticed that some companies seem to have very stringent tests. One in particular says that only 10% of people pass their test. This seems incredible to me! Does anyone have experience with these types of tests and know what these companies might be looking for specifically to distinguish a top translation from a mediocre one?

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:10
English to German
+ ...
Sometimes they rather check your IQ than your translation skills Jun 30, 2012

For example, a text will contain an error on purpose (wrong math / factual error, etc.) and they want to see if you notice it.

Or the text is crawling with repetitions. Instead of showing off your cool CAT tool skills and how great you are in keeping stubborn consistency within 200 words by repeating the same phrase over and over, they rather want to see if you can write.

Those are tricks that I learned pretty early at the NYU because most of their assignments are sprinkled with such little mean traps.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:10
French to English
+ ...
An 'elaborate testing procedure' doesn't mean a guarantee of more jobs Jun 30, 2012

In my experience, the agencies and clients with the most elaborate testing procedures aren't actually the ones that "translate" into regular, interesting jobs under favourable conditions.

I would be wary of spending a long time on long-winded testing procedures for an individual client.

Remember: if an agency urgently has lots of jobs to dish out, then they'll be focussed on dishing out those jobs to translators as quickly as possible, not on investing huge amounts of time on elaborate tests...

[Edited at 2012-06-30 22:57 GMT]


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 12:10
Romanian to English
+ ...
@ Nicole Jul 1, 2012

”For example, a text will contain an error on purpose (wrong math / factual error, etc.) and they want to see if you notice it.”

In your opinion, what would be the correct course of action ?

I am asking because I translate on a regular basis official documents issued by an US governmental agency to its counterpart in Europe. Many times I noticed blatant mistakes (wrong name, country, defendant etc.) and the agency I work with would not accept my corrections although they acknowledge that I am right.
Yes, I know, place [sic!], but I don't think that this is enough.

I would like to read what is your opinion about that.

Thank you,
lee


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 00:10
Chinese to English
Approach it like you would a real job Jul 1, 2012

If there's a difficulty with the text that only a client can resolve, put in a translator's note just like you would for a client.

On a recent test, an outsourcer gave me translations, so it was a back-translation task. I was able to hunt down the originals, and just paste the text in - of course, telling the client that that was what I was doing. No idea if that's what they wanted, but still, I passed.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:10
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Are these tests worth taking at all? Jul 1, 2012

Neil Coffey wrote:
In my experience, the agencies and clients with the most elaborate testing procedures aren't actually the ones that "translate" into regular, interesting jobs under favourable conditions.

I would be wary of spending a long time on long-winded testing procedures for an individual client.


It could be that they are a bottom-feeder agency which, despite offering peanuts, wants to recruit competent translators. So they give the idea that you have to be good when really gullibility is the main requirement for working with them.

On the other hand, it could be a genuine agency looking to collaborate with competent translators at reasonable rates which is warning off the time-wasting no-hopers.

Which do you think this is? Do you know what rates they are offering? It would be a good idea to find that out first. If you do do the test, then the best you can do is translate it the way you would if it were a paid assignment.

Sheila


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