Today, I finally received the results of my practice test for the ATA certification exam, which I took earlier this year. I only completed the “A” passage, a translation of a general, usually journalistic text, which is the part of the exam that most people struggle with, according to ATA grader Jutta Diel-Dominique. I wanted to know how I would fare taking the exam in a discouraged language combination: from my native into my non-native language, i.e. German into English. Although I am confident in my translation abilities, I wanted to see if I could pass this rather challenging test – to find out whether I am ready to take the actual ATA certification exam, but also for myself, to see if I am as good a translator as I think I am.

I took this test in the cafeteria at my local fitness club with only two hard-copy dictionaries at my disposal, writing my answers by hand and feeling strangely reminded of my days taking the English Abitur at the culmination of my German high school career. Even though it was only a practice test, taken at my own leisure and with nothing but my self-esteem at stake, I was nervous. I timed myself and made sure I didn’t go over the 1.5 hours I would have for the passage in a real exam sitting.

I am happy to report that I passed the practice test without any major errors. I scored the highest ranking of “strong” in three out of four categories (usefulness/transfer, idiomatic writing, target mechanics), and an “acceptable” (one step down) in terminology/style. The few mistakes I made are things I now look at with a “Duh!” feeling – errors I could have easily avoided if I had just taken a little bit more time to think about my word choice.

Of course, this test is only a snapshot of my translation skills. But to me, it is a validation that I am doing my job well and delivering a product that I and my clients can be proud of. I plan on taking the actual ATA certification exam from German into English at the earliest possible date, hopefully during the 2013 ATA Annual Conference in San Antonio. I may not need an outside organization attesting to my German to English translation skills. But if anyone else ever does, having the ATA certification under my belt will be a nice bonus.

About the author - Marion Rhodes

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