The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021 - 34

CERTIFICATION FORUM

By Michèle Hansen

Progress Toward a Remote
Testing Model of ATA's
Certification Exam
What's happening with at-home testing? This question is on the minds of
many members as ATA works to address the effects of the pandemic on
our current in-person certification exam model. We're excited to provide
this update on the process involved in revamping our delivery method
and the progress made thus far.

R

testing platforms don't

not others, it's best for us to

allow test takers to exit the

use our own specially trained

platform once they start

proctors, who are translators

the lockdowns and other

their exam. This restriction

themselves. However, most

restrictions in 2020 propelled

disables access to other

vendors are unwilling to

the Certification Committee

programs on candidates'

create custom arrangements

to ramp up its efforts last

computers, as well as to the

just for us because ATA's

summer to find a suitable

internet. These platforms

exam volume (on the order

vendor and platform to

won't work for us since we

of 500 exams per year) is

make this model a reality

allow internet access to

small compared to, say,

emote testing has
been under discussion
for some time, but

as soon as possible. We
started with a list of nearly
20 options, many of which
were ruled out because they
were unable to accommodate
non-Roman writing systems.
Language-wise, Arabic
has proven particularly
difficult for vendors to
manage due to the rightto-left writing direction.
We briefly considered
moving exams online just
for certain languages but
decided it would delay
the development of some

non-interactive websites

1

and allow candidates to use
some resources they have
stored on their computers,
such as glossaries or
dictionary apps.

The path has taken
many twists and turns,
but we're close to
reaching our destination
of at-home testing.

universities or organizations
of nurses or accountants.
After extensive online
research, email exchanges,
telephone calls, virtual
meetings, and live demos,
we've identified a company
we believe will be a good
match. We've had multiple
meetings with this vendor

to explain our model and
requirements, including calls
with their programmers to
tailor the interface to work
with our various languages.
We had a pilot test in
January and scheduled more
testing in February and
March. We're in the process
of negotiating a contract
and have started writing the
instructions for candidates
and proctors. Some details
need to be reviewed by ATA
Headquarters staff and
possibly legal counsel. Once
the administrative obstacles
have been cleared, we'll be
able to share our proprietary
exam passages with the
remote testing vendor, start
training our proctors, and
move into beta testing.
The path has taken many
twists and turns, but we're
close to reaching our
destination of at-home
testing. We'll be sharing
much more information in
the coming weeks and
months as the details get
hammered out and this
more convenient model
becomes available to our
members later this year.
Thanks for your patience
and stay tuned!

NOTE
1	
For a complete list of acceptable resources allowed during the
exam, check out the " Computerized Exam Online Resource
List " on ATA's website, https://bit.ly/ATAexam-resources.

exams, might increase costs
since we would be working

Proctoring has also been

with multiple vendors, and

a hurdle. Some potential

would be confusing to exam

vendors use only automated

candidates (with information

systems that often flag

and instructions changing

apparent violations like

once for the initial vendor

accessing outside websites,

and then again later on).

while others only work

Another sticking point

with their own proctors.

has been the nature of our

Because ATA allows access

exam model. Many online

to certain online sites but

34

The ATA Chronicle | March/April 2021

Michèle Hansen, CT is chair of ATA's
Certification Committee. An ATA-certified
French>English translator and editor since 1990,
she specializes in the health-related international
development, medical, and pharmaceutical
sectors. In addition to her freelance work, she has taught
French>English medical translation for the translation
certificate programs at New York University and the University
of Chicago. She previously served as administrator of ATA's
French Language Division. michele@globalhealthlanguage.com
www.atanet.org


https://www.bit.ly/ATAexam-resources http://www.atanet.org

The ATA Chronicle - March/April 2021

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