Certification Activities at ATA59

ATA’s Annual Conference is always a time for translators to reconnect, regroup, and refocus. This is especially true for those involved in ATA’s Certification Program—exam graders and members of the Certification Committee alike. Here is a rundown of certification activities at ATA59 in New Orleans.

Grader Training: On Wednesday afternoon before the Welcome Celebration, 55 graders gathered for the traditional four-hour training session. One of the areas of focus this time was mentorship within the Certification Program: how to better integrate and orient new and prospective graders. This topic was prompted by the large number of new graders who have joined the program over the past year. Attendees also participated in a group grading exercise concerned with literalism. As always, head grader trainer Larry Bogoslaw provided an interesting and engaging program for all involved.

Certification Committee Meeting: The Certification Committee also held its semiannual meeting during the conference. A main topic of discussion was exploring opportunities for orienting and preparing candidates for the exam. This includes live regional workshops modeled after the successful pilot held in Boston last January (more events like this are being planned for 2019). The Certification Committee is also preparing a series of YouTube videos about certain aspects of the Certification Program and exam, and is looking into other media outlets (e.g., webinars, interactive platforms) for giving candidates greater insight into what it takes to succeed.

Continuing Education: In addition, the committee has created a task force charged with reexamining the continuing education requirements, with an eye on updating them. Results from this endeavor are expected in the first half of 2019.

Computerized Exam: Finally, the committee looked at ways to improve the computerized exam process, specifically to eliminate the use of USB drives for saving and transmitting completed exams. It’s likely that exam sittings in 2019 will instead make use of cloud computing, which will greatly streamline the process for candidates and proctors alike, and also reduce the likelihood of technical failure.

In the coming year, ATA’s Certification Program will continue to look for new ways to improve access to the credential while maintaining a high level of integrity and rigor.


David Stephenson is the chair of ATA’s Certification Committee. An ATA-certified German>English, Dutch>English, and Croatian>English translator, he has been an independent translator for over 30 years, specializing in civil litigation and creative nonfiction. Contact: david@stephensontranslations.com.

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