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ATA letter: We regret to inform you that ....
Thread poster: jsnit
Sep 3, 2010

Hi all,

We got a letter today from ATA notifying my wife that she did not pass the certification exam. We want to ask for a review of the exam, but because the process is very protected and we do no have too much feedback until the whole review process is completed, we want to know if in this forum someone knows anyone who "passed" the exam after requesting a review.

Is is possible, or are we loosing our money requesting that?

We think that ATA's correction procedures and qualifications are very subjective. For a person who took the exam in July, working as a translator for more than 10 years, and certified from an University, failure to the exam is very questionable.


Please advise!


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:55
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Not questionable Sep 3, 2010

jsnit wrote:
We think that ATA's correction procedures and qualifications are very subjective. For a person who took the exam in July, working as a translator for more than 10 years, and certified from an University, failure to the exam is very questionable.

You would be surprised to know of the very many excellent professionals who have failed the exam. I know of some very capable translators who have successful careers and had to do the exam thrice until they passed.

In this exam, experience and/or university degrees are considered eligibily requirements, not part of the exam. In order to pass you must perform nicely with the papers you received.

This was copied from ATA's website:

Copies of the examination, identified only by code number, are sent to two graders. Graders mark errors on a scale of 1, 2, 4, 8, or 16 error points. (Up to 3 quality points may be subtracted from error points.) A passage with a final score of 18 or higher is marked Fail. Candidates who receive a Pass on both passages from both graders will receive certification. In cases where the graders disagree on the outcome, a third grader is asked to grade the passages in question.


So, as you can see, there are two graders (unlike other certifications, in which you are graded by a single person). If the two graders don't agree about the result, help is requested from a third grader. If your wife's exam was marked as a fail, it means that at least two separate graders agreed that it should be a fail.

When I took the exam in 2008, I had been a full-time translator for 13 years, but when I prepared for the exam with the valuable help of a very seasoned professional, I discovered many areas of improvement in aspects of translation I did not come across very frequently in my daily work. Counting on a very capable and strict person to help you in preparing this kind of exam proved to be the key to success in my case. I really doubt that, despite my many years in business, I would have passed the exam without her help and I will be eternally thankful to her.

The cost of the review is US$ 250, which is a reasonable amount in my opinion. In any case, if you feel that the exam did not deserve a fail, you should definitely ask for a review! I had a similar experience with another similar exam with a British institute and, independently of the final result, am happy I did ask for a remark. At least I am in peace with myself.


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jsnit
TOPIC STARTER
ATA letter: We regret to inform you that ...." Sep 3, 2010

Gracias Tomas,

Bueno en la certificacion universitaria que preparo mi mujer trabajaron con ejemplos del ATA, y con una profesora que es miemo del ATA.

De los dos examenes, solo suspendio uno el del tema general, porque el segundo lo aprobo.

Pienso que tus consejos pueden ser muy utiltes, porque ademas de la experiencia parece que la tecnica cuenta en este examen.

Otra cosa, aparte de la necesidad personal de pedir la revision del examen, conoces a alguien que haya aprobado despues de pedir una revision?

Saludos


[Edited at 2010-09-03 09:57 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-09-03 10:00 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-09-03 10:04 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:55
Member (2005)
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No... Sep 3, 2010

jsnit wrote:
Otra cosa, aparte de la necesidad personal de pedir la revision del examen, conoces a alguien que haya aprobado despues de pedir una revision?

I'm affraid I can't think of anyone. In your position, I would ask for the review just for my peace of mind.

Now, another thing your wife might want to consider is a practice test. Since you get a report back from ATA, it might help your wife identify areas of improvement or simply find out about aspects that will be looked at very closely at any ATA exam and which perhaps were not considered as critical at the time of the exam.

Good luck!


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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 14:55
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English to Spanish
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A complete report Sep 3, 2010

Tomas, you have provided thorough, complete and useful information on this issue.

Thank you for always being ready to share and help.

Saludos,

Walter


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 13:55
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
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Take a practice test next time. Sep 3, 2010

I concur on the value of a practice test. I took the test in both my language pairs, and did the practice test both times. Yes, it's expensive, but the feedback was invaluable for preparation. It's frustrating, though understandable, that we don't get feedback from the actual exam. We do, though, get a full report from the grader of the practice test. The results will not only help in preparation for the exam, but also give you a reasonable estimate of the likelihood of passing the exam (which in turn will help in the decision regarding paying for a review).

Good luck!

Jane


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jsnit
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ATA letter: We regret to inform you that .... Sep 3, 2010

Thank you very much to everyone for your answers.

I have an additional question!

Is there a way to request a copy of the exam without review? I think that the Exam Review is in my opinion a waste of money, because the probability of having the result modified from "fail" to "pass" is close to zero

Please advise.


[Edited at 2010-09-03 18:09 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:55
Member (2005)
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I don't think so Sep 3, 2010

jsnit wrote:
Is there a way to request a copy of the exam without review? I think that the Exam Review is in my opinion a waste of money, because the probability of having the result modified from "fail" to "pass" is close to zero

I think you won't get a copy of the exam. It becomes the property of ATA when you finish it, and they don't return it. You cannot get a copy of the source text either, since the same text is used during a whole year and it cannot be revealed until all exams of the year have been graded.

Personally, if you feel that a review is a waste of time, your best bet is to do a practice exam.


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jsnit
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ATA letter: We regret to inform you that .... Sep 3, 2010

ATA specifies in its web site:

"In the event that the reviewer upholds the grade of Fail, the marking of errors to support at least the minimum standard for failure will be recorded on a clean review copy of the translation. The nature of the errors will be indicated. The review copy of the failed passages and the original source texts and evaluation summary for those passages will be mailed to the candidate. This is the final step for most candidates and no further information will be supplied to the candidate or anyone else regarding the review."
It means that to get a copy of the exam we have to request an exam review, even if what we want is a copy of the exam without a review.


Additional question. Is there a place where successful candidates comment lessons learned and give some feedback to some other potential candidates. For example in this forum

http://forums.oreilly.com/content/Head-First-PMP/1430/Lessons-Learned-Feeback-from-successful-PMP-s/

there is plenty of information in how to prepare the PMP certification.

Please advise.






[Edited at 2010-09-03 21:33 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-09-03 21:34 GMT]


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:55
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
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And - a review might not show all your errors Sep 4, 2010

Also remember that a review will return a copy of your exam with the reviewer's markups, not the original graders'. As such it only need contain enough error marks from the reviewer to sustain a grade of Fail (if that is the outcome of the review), which might not be all the errors that you made. A practice test is marked completely.


[Edited at 2010-09-04 00:46 GMT]


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jsnit
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ATA letter: We regret to inform you that .... Sep 5, 2010

Thanks.

What about forums where successful candidates comment lessons learned and give some feedback to some other potential candidates?

Please advise


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Felipe Gútiez  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:55
German to Spanish
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Every institution can make mistakes and it DOES Sep 5, 2010

[/quote]
You cannot get a copy of the source text either, since the same text is used during a whole year and it cannot be revealed until all exams of the year have been graded.

Personally, if you feel that a review is a waste of time, your best bet is to do a practice exam.
[/quote]

this means that theoretically, someone who takes the exam in Ianuary could make some secret photos of the exam and pass it to future applicants until December.
Not very serious.
Anyway, with my experience, I basically have my doubts on every institution where human beings decide what is good and bad.
On the other hand there is no other way....or is there other way?

[Editado a las 2010-09-05 17:04 GMT]


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jsnit
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ATA letter: We regret to inform you that .... Sep 5, 2010

Good point Felipe!!!


but what about forums, blogs, where successful and unsuccessful candidates comment lessons learned and give some feedback to some other potential candidates?


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:55
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Not very serious - What do you suggest Sep 5, 2010

Felipe Gútiez wrote:
Tomás wrote:
You cannot get a copy of the source text either, since the same text is used during a whole year and it cannot be revealed until all exams of the year have been graded.
Personally, if you feel that a review is a waste of time, your best bet is to do a practice exam.

this means that theoretically, someone who takes the exam in Ianuary could make some secret photos of the exam and pass it to future applicants until December.
Not very serious.

Taking a picture of the text and sharing it around.... that indeed would not be very serious. It will mean that the candidate does not respect the rules of the institution from which he/she expects to get a competitive advantage by means of passing a very difficult exam.

It is true that many people in our society only want and respect those rules that act in their favour and comfort, and are quite reluctant to respect the rules when they are not the favoured ones. I find that sad and quite humiliating for mankind as a whole. Don't we have any self-respect?

Felipe Gútiez wrote:
Anyway, with my experience, I basically have my doubts on every institution where human beings decide what is good and bad.
On the other hand there is no other way....or is there other way?

ATA never claimed to be deciding about good or bad. Maybe this sentence was used completely out of context?

ATA's goal in the certification process as a whole is to give a credential to those translators who, in the opinion of qualified and experienced graders, are able to translate a carefully chosen paper to a professional standard, within a standard time and with an established kind of resources (basically anything you can carry to the exam, except for Internet or electronic devices). As simple as that, and as tricky as that.

Now, machines are barely capable of translating the simplest of texts. Do you expect machines to be able to evaluate a translation at a professional level? What other method do you suggest then?


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jsnit
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ATA letter: We regret to inform you that .... Sep 6, 2010

Good point Tomas!!!


but what about forums, blogs, where successful and unsuccessful candidates comment lessons learned and give some feedback to some other potential candidates?


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