About a week and a half ago I wrote a blog post about my initial experience with Gengo.com’s contract translation services website. I had failed the 5-question pretest, and had to wait at least three days before I could retake it.
So today I decided to retaking it after getting mentally prepared for another hard round of questions.
And yes–it was very difficult, requiring careful analysis of each question and answer. But I managed to pass this time, getting 4/5 questions right. Yippee!
As before, I wouldn’t feel right about sharing the content of the questions I got, but I will say that I discovered some of the questions were taken from actual web pages on the internet, though of course there was no English translations available for those pages. The only reason I think this could be helpful is if there are Kanji you need to lookup but prefer to just do a cut-and-paste instead of tedious radial lookup. I made use of this trick once or twice to save time.
In order to have a shot at getting the questions right, you really have to make sure you understand all the meanings which apply to each vocabulary word given, and also all the nuances of each grammar construction you come across. The frustrating thing about the questions is that for me it wasn’t like one translation was necessarily perfect, but after reading through all the answers, one seemed the best of all those given, even if some of the words I thought weren’t ideal. But if have a good test-taking skills (I think this is called being testwise) and can add logical deduction to your list of tools, you have a good shot at passing.
When I had originally taken the test, I felt that it was unnecessarily tricky, but now I have started to feel that they’ve picked a pretty effective way of weeding out those people who would never pass the main test, which is involves translation, hence saving themselves a lot of people’s time on grading.
I decided to also go ahead with the main test today which was (much like the pretest) somewhat within my expectations based on the information given before the test. I was asked to translate a roughly 300-word text from Japanese into English. Fortunately, for me the subject matter was much easier for me than the pretest, but translating it plus several rounds of double checking for errors and unnatural phrasing took me at least an hour and a half, even though they had estimated 45 minutes for this test. Luckily, since it wasn’t timed this was no issue.
I’m not going to give too many suggestions for this part, since either you can make translations that fit their quality standards or you can’t. And without passing myself I am not sure what they are looking for. But definitely make sure to read their style guidelines as well as check your work many times before you submit it. If you are used to translation or writing in any professional fashion you surely have the basics down already, but one trick many people use is to read out the final (translated) text as an extra proofreading step. That will sometimes allow you to pick up errors you otherwise might skip over with a cursory glance, especially if you have a quick reading speed.
Gengo.com said they will review the test in 7 days and provide a pass/fail result. If you fail, you have the option of retaking it, but I am not sure if there is a limit on this.
As a side note, recently I did some more searching around for sites similar to Gengo.com, but wasn’t able to find many. I applied for a few but haven’t gotten any jobs assigned yet, and at least one other site wasn’t accepting the Japanese->English language pair. There’s so much out there, but there doesn’t seem to be anything quite like Gengo out there, from what I’ve seen.
I hope this article has been of use to those looking to get into translation as a profession or side job.