ATA

Practice Test for ATA Certification Exam

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Practice Test for the ATA Certification Exam


The practice test process is made available as an aid to preparation for the certification exam. This test consists of one passage for a fee of $80.00 (members) or $120.00 (non-members).

The practice test has some features in common with the certification exam.

The practice test is taken under different conditions than the certification exam.

  • No time limit is imposed on the practice test. In contrast, the certification exam is strictly limited to three hours, during which you must complete the translation of two passages. If you are seriously preparing to take the certification exam, you may want to adhere to the same time limits and complete a passage in 90 minutes.
  • The certification exam is an open book exam, but you must bring the books with you. For the computerized format, you are also allowed to use a limited range of Internet resources. Your preparation for the certification exam will be more effective if you limit yourself to the resources that would be available to you during the actual exam.
  • The greatest difference between the practice test and the certification exam, and the one that is very advantageous to you, is that whereas a certification exam is not returned to the candidate, the practice test is a learning opportunity; it is returned with error markings clearly visible and classified as to type and seriousness. This feedback should give a reasonable idea of whether you are ready to take the exam and, if not, where you need more work. (See How the Exam Is Graded: Explanation of Error Categories).

Please keep in mind that if you pass the practice test, you will not necessarily pass the certification exam, but if you do not pass the practice test, the chances are high that you will fail the exam.

Please be sure to read carefully and follow the instructions you receive in the packet together with the practice test and the paper on which you are to write.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do people fail the practice test?

Important causes of failure are: major omissions, major mistranslations where the meaning of the original is lost, or an accumulation of target-language writing errors. Tests taken from the candidate’s mother tongue into a second language account for a high percentage of failures.

Why should members take the practice test before applying for the certification exam?
From a purely practical standpoint, at $80/$120 a passage, the practice test is a good investment to see whether the candidate is sufficiently prepared to take the examination, which costs $300.

How does one apply to take a practice test?
Anyone may take a practice test. Send your payment of $80 per passage if you’re an ATA member ($120 per passage if you’re a non-member) to ATA Headquarters along with a practice test request form, which you will find on this website. Practice test registrations may be submitted along with membership applications. You should receive the test packet within a few weeks after you apply. Return the original passage and your translation as requested in the accompanying instructions. You may want to keep a photocopy of your translation for your records. The graders are not staff members but active translators around the country and overseas, so please allow 6-8 weeks for receipt of the evaluation.

How can I get further information about the practice test or the certification exam?
For additional information about the nature of the certification exam, please follow the links in this section or consult other pages at this website. You may also call ATA Headquarters at (703) 683-6100.

Note: As of 2017, there are only general passages on the ATA certification exam.