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The ATA Certification Exam Basics

Ever since I became an ATA-Certified English into Spanish Translator in 2017, many people have asked me how to prepare for the ATA certification exam.

For those unfamiliar with the acronym, ATA stands for American Translators Association.

The ATA certification exam is not your average college exam where you first study concepts and later apply them in practical exercises. This is a three-hour exam where you must translate two non-technical texts consisting of 225–275 words each.

The current pass rate for the exam is less than 20 percent!

READ: How I Became ATA-Certified

The purpose of the ATA certification exam is to meet several quality standards as you translate. Therefore, the only two possible outcomes are "pass" or "fail."

Additionally, the exam is not returned to the candidate, and no feedback is provided. You may, however, ask for a second opinion if you disagree with your grade.

In my opinion, you only need one ingredient to pass this exam:


The ATA-Certified Translator credential is best suited for experienced translators. That is why I do not recommend it to novice translators, even if they have completed a college translation degree.

As far as I am concerned, there are no courses or programs to prepare for the ATA certification exam. However, there is the option of purchasing practice tests from the ATA website, which I highly recommend if you want to save money.

Although I did not undergo any specific preparation for the exam, I read the grading standards document — which is available on the ATA website — to make sure I would meet the requirements needed to pass the exam.

MORE: Are Translation Certification Exams Redundant?

If you have more questions about the ATA certification exam, feel free to ask me in the comments below — you may also send me an email if you prefer to talk in private.

I am happy to help!

By the way, do you know the difference between a certificate and a certification? If not, click here to learn more.


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