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Translation Tests
Thread poster: Oliveira Simões

Oliveira Simões  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:35
Member (2017)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Jul 25

Quite often, translation agencies and direct customers require translators to take skills test. How do you handle such requirement? Do you take translation tests for free? Do you cap the number of words? How do you think we as a group should handle this? I've never heard of independent professionals such as doctors, dentists, or even plumbers being required to take skills tests. Have you? What is and is not acceptable in our profession?

 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 22:35
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
When it suits you Jul 26

I did tests for three of my five top clients all-time. Two of them were free. I literally do not have time to do free tests these days, but on principle I accept them; I just tell them that free tests take at least a week to complete.

Musicians and actors do auditions all the time. Even million-dollar actors. Actually, doctors probably do interviews if they're joining a medical insurance network.


Morano El-Kholy
Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Tina Vonhof
Olavo Nogueira
Philippe Etienne
Fiona Grace Peterson
Juan Piedrahita
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 14:35
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
My take on translation tests Jul 26

As I’ve been translating full-time since 1985 I always find both rejuvenating and amusing when I’m asked for a free test, though I understand that sometimes it might be useful to see how a translator treats this or that particular sentence (in literature or journalism, for instance). If I’m really interested in that job I'll be happy to do a short unpaid translation test (300/400 words maximum), providing we have already agreed on price and payment and there is no deadline set for the test... See more
As I’ve been translating full-time since 1985 I always find both rejuvenating and amusing when I’m asked for a free test, though I understand that sometimes it might be useful to see how a translator treats this or that particular sentence (in literature or journalism, for instance). If I’m really interested in that job I'll be happy to do a short unpaid translation test (300/400 words maximum), providing we have already agreed on price and payment and there is no deadline set for the test, so I can do it at my own pace. I would rather do a translation test for free than sending diplomas, references and the like and having to fill endless forms. Anyway, that’s how I got some of my best clients (direct clients and translation agencies) and some of my highest-paid assignments.Collapse


Morano El-Kholy
Tina Vonhof
Olavo Nogueira
Philippe Etienne
Jennifer Forbes
Elizabeth Tamblin
 

Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 15:35
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Better than providing references Jul 26

Oliveira Simões wrote:

I've never heard of independent professionals such as doctors, dentists, or even plumbers being required to take skills tests.


No, but doctors and dentists need a diploma before they can work as a doctor or dentist. Anyone who thinks he "can English" can call himself a translator. To get an impression of the quality of my work, I prefer translation tests to providing references, as I tend to assume my clients are busy enough without having to testify to my linguistic capabilities. So like Teresa, I will occasionally agree to do a free text, usually no more than 250-300 words, if the client seems interesting enough. Of course for a free test, I will not accept a deadline so I can fit it in whenever it suits me.

[Edited at 2019-07-26 08:32 GMT]


Morano El-Kholy
Teresa Borges
Tina Vonhof
Philippe Etienne
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:35
Member
Italian to English
Use the SEARCH function! Jul 26

Only discussed about a billion times already in the forums. Here are just seven of the multiple threads on this topic....

https://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/755-warning_about_free_translation_tests.html
...
See more
Only discussed about a billion times already in the forums. Here are just seven of the multiple threads on this topic....

https://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/755-warning_about_free_translation_tests.html
https://www.proz.com/forum/being_independent/843-advice_on_doing_test_translations.html
https://www.proz.com/forum/getting_established/211-false_sample_translations_limit_yourself_to_short_ones.html
https://www.proz.com/forum/being_independent/1170-sample_translations.html
https://www.proz.com/forum/chinese/1902-let_s_talk_about_sample_translations.html
https://www.proz.com/forum/being_independent/4837-is_doing_translation_tests_beneficial_for_future_projects.html
https://www.proz.com/forum/getting_established/11926-translation_agencies_and_tests.html
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DZiW
Philippe Etienne
Michele Fauble
Robert Forstag
writeaway
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
@Oliveira Jul 26

Oliveira, most replies in similar threads are still relevant... and topical.
It's very you who runs the biz and decides what it's worth and better for you. Unfortunately, most freelancers (working one-to-many) are but poor businessmen.

Shortly: If your (1) certifications, (2) portfolio, (3) references, and (4) a short interview is allegedly not enough to prove the competence, then be ready just to walk away--especially if their "best" offer
... See more
Oliveira, most replies in similar threads are still relevant... and topical.
It's very you who runs the biz and decides what it's worth and better for you. Unfortunately, most freelancers (working one-to-many) are but poor businessmen.

Shortly: If your (1) certifications, (2) portfolio, (3) references, and (4) a short interview is allegedly not enough to prove the competence, then be ready just to walk away--especially if their "best" offer is under $0.05/word minus repetition/fuzzy "discounts" (often making it under $0.125/word after 60+ days).

What could they offer and what are their proofs?
How about a 'test payment', I wonder?)
Collapse


 

Oliveira Simões  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:35
Member (2017)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Understandable for some occupations Aug 18

Lincoln Hui wrote:
Musicians and actors do auditions all the time. Even million-dollar actors. Actually, doctors probably do interviews if they're joining a medical insurance network.


While skills tests are understandable for some occupations, like an audition for an actor (since their roles change, of course), I find it hard to swallow in the case of translators, especially if you have a degree in translation and many years of experience, which I do. I decided to draw the line. I only take free tests in very limited circumstances, and in some cases I charge for them. Time is $$$. I value my skills and my background. But I understand that not everybody thinks the same.


[Edited at 2019-08-18 04:59 GMT]


 

Oliveira Simões  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:35
Member (2017)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good advice Aug 18

DZiW wrote:

It's very you who runs the biz and decides what it's worth and better for you. Unfortunately, most freelancers (working one-to-many) are but poor businessmen.

What could they offer and what are their proofs?
How about a 'test payment', I wonder?)


Perhaps it's about time for translators to start looking at themselves as businesspeople. Having had an online business for almost 18 years, I have no problem with that. I do think as a businessman and I think you hit the nail on the head. Why not charge for translation tests? I do in some cases, and believe it or not, a couple of agencies agreed to pay. When you have laid out your profile, resume, translation samples, translated books (6 in my case), answered interview questions, it makes you wonder if a skills test is really needed, and if so, then why not charge for your skills? Typically, if a test is over 200 words, I do charge to take it.


[Edited at 2019-08-18 04:50 GMT]


 

Oliveira Simões  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:35
Member (2017)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Aug 18

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:
Only discussed about a billion times already in the forums. Here are just seven of the multiple threads on this topic....

Thanks for the links. I always prefer to start a new thread to engaging in old stuff. If it's too old, most people won't even look anyway.

[Edited at 2019-08-18 04:21 GMT]


 

Oliveira Simões  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:35
Member (2017)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Tests vs Other Stuff Aug 18

Teresa Borges wrote:
I would rather do a translation test for free than sending diplomas, references and the like and having to fill endless forms.

Interesting, Teresa. I don't like filling out endless forms, either, but I'd rather send diplomas / references than take free tests. "Chacun a son goût", huh?


 

Oliveira Simões  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:35
Member (2017)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Translation background Aug 18

Marjolein Snippe wrote:

No, but doctors and dentists need a diploma before they can work as a doctor or dentist. Anyone who thinks he "can English" can call himself a translator.


Sure, but there are also translators with academic degrees, either at the BA or MA level. Why should they accept to take free tests if they have been to school for many years? Just because someone speaks two languages doesn't make them a translator. Obviously, there are different ways of assessing a translator's skills, starting with their academic background, including but not limited to their resume, translation samples, experience, etc. (I've just been hired as a video interpreter and I swear they haven't run any interpretation tests on me.) As translators, I think we should start drawing the line instead of accepting anything that comes our way. And let's face it: sometimes the test grader is less qualified than the test taker. (The other day I received a style guide from a major company with grammar errors in it. How can I trust the test results?)


[Edited at 2019-08-18 05:02 GMT]


Tradupro17
 

IrinaN
United States
Local time: 08:35
English to Russian
+ ...
Questionable Aug 19

Oliveira Simões wrote:

Sure, but there are also translators with academic degrees, either at the BA or MA level. Why should they accept to take free tests if they have been to school for many years?


“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”
― Oscar Wilde

I worked next to "academics"many, many times, and I can assure you that next to the ones I greatly admired there have also been a few examples I would disqualify for life.

Would you pick a lawyer or a doctor just because you know that they must be having a degree by default?


Daryo
Sandra& Kenneth
 

Oliveira Simões  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:35
Member (2017)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Where's the logic? Aug 19

IrinaN wrote:

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”
― Oscar Wilde

I worked next to "academics"many, many times, and I can assure you that next to the ones I greatly admired there have also been a few examples I would disqualify for life.

Would you pick a lawyer or a doctor just because you know that they must be having a degree by default?


Indeed, education is an admirable thing, and there's always room for learning. No question about that. Also, the fact is: there are good professionals and bad professionals in every area. That's not the issue. Responding to your question, I wouldn't hire an incompetent professional, but I wouldn't be fool to request a skills test either, let's say from a lawyer or engineer, for example. If I wouldn't require a skills test from them, why would I advocate for unpaid tests for myself or for any translators with degrees? Where is the logic? There are many ways of assessing a person's skills, that's the point I'm trying to make. Tests are just one of them. Overall, I think we, as a class, are way too disorganized (and exploited). Anyway, let it be. I guess some folks like it the way it is. Expecting someone to work for free is a form of exploitation.

[Edited at 2019-08-19 13:56 GMT]


 

IrinaN
United States
Local time: 08:35
English to Russian
+ ...
Because we test our lawyers and doctors Aug 19

By seeking recommendations, having initial consultations (sometimes free), researching their websites, observing their manners and style in dealing with clients/patients.

I rejected a couple of doctors based on their behavior during the first visit.

As far as tests are concerned, I'm afraid I'll reiterate myself - I talked about it already.

The sixty-four-dollar question always is - who wants to test? Mass mail users? 2-centers with 90% CAT discounts or p
... See more
By seeking recommendations, having initial consultations (sometimes free), researching their websites, observing their manners and style in dealing with clients/patients.

I rejected a couple of doctors based on their behavior during the first visit.

As far as tests are concerned, I'm afraid I'll reiterate myself - I talked about it already.

The sixty-four-dollar question always is - who wants to test? Mass mail users? 2-centers with 90% CAT discounts or potential winners of potential projects? I think we both are above even considering something like that, no discussion here. But when the test comes from a serious, well-paying and reputable client who already has a multi-million project in his hands, and is known for assigning well-qualified editors, I wouldn't mind doing a reasonable test. If fact, my trust in them would increase.

And again, I test them as much as they test me. I'm sorry to be so impudent but a flat rejection or silence in response to my tests in a couple of fields would make me count my blessings. Same after seeing some editing... I would jump up and down with joy that I had wasted 1 hour only. Seeing the same later in a 10K job... thanks but no, thanks.

"Chief" editor has a right, even a duty to choose translators with the style that suits his requirements, to avoid spending too much time and client's money on re-writing. For example, I tend to be as concise as possible, while some editors can't sleep tight without stuffing every word of the source text into the target text. Logic - it may be an overkill but no one will accuse me of missing a word!!!!! BTW, this is very characteristic of some English natives translating from Russian, especially when they translate clumsy and wordy Soviet-style bureaucratic or technical language. At times I think they forget that they are speaking their own language to their own audience:-).

I do not believe that potential clients should trust our self-proclamations blindly. The elite exceptions with breathtaking portfolios, better than any tests, exist but that's what they are - the elite in the best meaning of the word.

I would want to know as much about my future editors as they want to know about me... if they want to know more than my best rate, that is:-). And I want to know it in advance!



[Edited at 2019-08-19 14:11 GMT]

Edited for typos

[Edited at 2019-08-19 14:28 GMT]
Collapse


Daryo
Kay Denney
 

Oliveira Simões  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:35
Member (2017)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not on the same page! Aug 20

IrinaN wrote:

By seeking recommendations, having initial consultations (sometimes free), researching their websites, observing their manners and style in dealing with clients/patients.


Clearly, we are not talking about the same thing. I'm not talking about other modes of assessments, like the ones you mentioned. My initial post was very clear. I'm referring to unpaid written translation tests. I won't go any further because apparently we are not on the same page. Good luck to you.


 
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