Review Procedure

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Certification Exam

Certification Exam Review Procedure


“There must be some mistake!”

Many unsuccessful certification candidates find it difficult to believe they actually failed the exam. The ATA Certification Committee established the Review Procedure as a way to address a candidate's concern that an error has been made in the processing or grading of the certification exam. The procedure, as detailed below, has two possible outcomes: If processing or grading errors that would alter the outcome are identified, the grade is reversed from Fail to Pass; or, if the reviewer upholds the grade of Fail, the candidate receives a fuller explanation of why the exam did not meet the standards for ATA certification.

Given the nature of translation and of translation quality evaluation, it is possible that a candidate will disagree with the explanation received. In that case, the only way to contest a review decision is to follow the directions for a review appeal. There is no further recourse available after an appeal. In electing to sit for the exam and again in applying for review and appeal, the candidate agrees to abide by the outcome of these procedures.


Candidates who are currently members of ATA and interested in having their exam reviewed may obtain a Request for Certification Review form from ATA Headquarters or the ATA website. As part of the application, they will be asked to sign a statement indicating that they understand the conditions of the review and agree to abide by them. They return the completed application to ATA Headquarters along with the payment* to cover the administrative costs of the review. The fact that the certification exam is being reviewed will be kept confidential by Headquarters and the Certification Committee. The candidate's identity will not be revealed to those performing the review.

*Exam Review Fee is $250 per passage.

Upon receipt of the Request for Review, a file containing the original translations, the envelope on which the candidate wrote his or her name and the contact information on the day of the exam, the copies of the exam as marked by the graders, and exam-related documents will be scrutinized for possible processing errors. During the annual review period, the respective Language Chair, or a reviewer assigned by the Language Chair, will be given copies of the exam and will evaluate the errors marked by the original graders in accordance with the Certification Committee's current grading criteria. The reviewer will also grade the exam again. At that time, the reviewer will decide either to uphold the grade of Fail or to reverse the grade, awarding certification to the candidate.

In the case of a reversal, the review fee will be refunded in full and the candidate will receive a Certificate of Certification dated as of the original notice of failure, upgraded membership (if applicable), and all of the rights and privileges of certification. The candidate's name will be published in the ATA Chronicle along with the names of other recently certified members. No disclosure will ever be made of the fact that the certification was awarded based on a review.

In the event that the reviewer upholds the grade of Fail, the marking of errors supporting at least the minimum standard for failure will be recorded on a clean review copy of the translation. The nature of the errors will be indicated. The review copy of the failed passages and the original source texts and evaluation summary for those passages will be mailed to the candidate. This is the final step for most candidates, and no further information will be supplied to the candidate or anyone else regarding the review.

If the exam receives a grade of Fail on review, the candidate may dispute the error marking through the appeals process.

Review Period

Factors influencing the timing of reviews include the need to maintain confidentiality about the content of current exam passages and the recognition that the Certification Program workload typically peaks in October, November, and December.

Reviews are conducted after the close of the examination year, which runs from January to December. The first batch of reviews goes to reviewers in January, with subsequent batches going out as needed. Candidates who fail a certification exam and retain their ATA membership have six months from the date of their results letter to apply for the review. After that date, review is no longer possible.

Print Request Form for Certification Review.

For more information, contact ATA, Phone: (703) 683-6100; fax: (703) 683-6122; or email: Certification Program Manager.



Revised 10/09