You can now take ATA’s certification exam online anywhere, but how does it really work? As a past exam taker, I would like to share some practical tips for those preparing for the online exam.1
Prepping for the Exam
- Familiarize yourself with ATA’s explanation of error categories, the flowchart for error point decisions, and framework for standardized error marking (https://bit.ly/ATA-exam-grading), and its list of authorized online resources (https://bit.ly/ATA-resource-list) in advance.
- Take a practice test or two (https://bit.ly/ATA-practice) in the weeks leading up to your exam and reflect on the feedback you receive from the grader. While current practice tests do not replicate conditions for the online exam, they do provide a feel for what the passages will be like and how they will be graded.
- Participate in a study group to prepare for the exam.
- Make sure you meet the necessary technical requirements to take the online exam before registering (https://bit.ly/requirements-online).
- Set up your workspace, computer, and smart phone for the exam in advance.
- Double check that the ExamRoom.AI app—the testing platform—is installed and opens on your smart phone and that your phone is fully charged before the exam.
- Turn off all notifications and reminders and exit email programs, Slack, etc., on your computer and smart phone to avoid distractions and/or grounds for disqualification.
- For those with partners, kids, and/or pets, try to have your home to yourself on exam day.
- Even though you hopefully have your home to yourself that day, choose a quiet room where outside noises (e.g., lawnmowing, dogs barking, etc.) won’t distract you.
- Type up any notes you want to use and print them out in advance. (Loose pieces of scrap paper and Post-Its are not allowed for the online exam.) You can write notes on a whiteboard but will be asked to erase them and show the whiteboard to the proctor before ending the exam.
- Have physical dictionaries and printouts set out on your table or desk.
- Have online dictionaries and resources such as websites bookmarked and tabs open on your computer before logging in for the exam.
- If working into English, have the PDF version of ATA’s Into English Grading Standards downloaded and open on your computer before onboarding so you can quickly search the PDF for ATA’s style preferences if necessary during the exam. (https://bit.ly/into-English-standards).
- Open multiple tabs in Chrome for web searches during the exam. (Internet Explorer is not allowed.)
- Have laptop and smart phone chargers readily available with outlets nearby.
On exam day, you log onto the ExamRoom.AI website to be guided through the onboarding process, which includes verifying your identification and showing a scan of your surroundings.
The details for onboarding are included in the instructions sent after registration.
- Before onboarding, use the link in the ExamRoom confirmation email to run a system check.
- Begin the onboarding process at least 20 minutes before your scheduled exam so it doesn’t cut into your exam time.
- Have your photo ID ready to show the onboarding agent.
- Once the exam interface is open, the three-hour timer begins its countdown.
- Read all three passages available for translation and choose the two you will translate. (You are allowed to change which passages you translate once you begin.)
- You can toggle back and forth between the three passages using arrows on each screen.
- Once you decide which two passages you’ll translate, type “This Passage Not Translated” in the text box of the passage you won’t be working on.
- Use the Escape button to minimize your browser to access your electronic dictionaries and other authorized resources on your computer.
- Your computer screen will be recorded and room activity monitored, but you’ll not see a proctor during the three-hour exam. The only time you’ll interact via webcam with the onboarding agent is during the initial onboarding process.
- You will not hear the proctor at all unless you ask to speak live with them. You may also raise your hand while asking the proctor a question so they quickly identify you and answer your question.
- You may not read the passage or your translation aloud to yourself at any time.
- When you’re finished, tell the proctor you’re finished and they will walk you through submitting your exam.
- Be sure to log out of the ExamRoom.AI app on your phone or tablet to completely sever the recording of your exam.
- While I had all my dictionaries in the room with me, I mostly used the Lexibase Collins English-Spanish electronic dictionary, the Collins COBUILD English Language Dictionary, the BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English, the Glosario internacional para el traductor, merriam-webster.com, rae.es, google.com, linguee.com, and ATA IEGS.pdf and felt they sufficed.
- I also had printouts of ATA’s list of authorized online resources and its framework for standardized error marking, flowchart for error point decisions, and explanation of error categories. Although I didn’t refer to them during the exam, they were still great resources when preparing for the exam.
- Michèle Hansen provided an excellent overview of the process in her article “The Online Exam Is Here!” in the July/August 2021 issue of The ATA Chronicle, https://bit.ly/ATAonline-exam.
Michele Bantz, CT is a graduate of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and works as a freelance Spanish>English and Portuguese>English translator/editor focusing on international development, banking and finance, pharmaceuticals, and law. She is an ATA-certified Spanish>English and Portuguese>English translator and currently serves as a moderator for the Spanish>English and Portuguese>English ATA certification exam study groups. email@example.com