United Nations Welcome to the United Nations

Examinations for Copy Preparers

Candidates for copy preparer/proofreader/production editor posts must take the corresponding competitive examination in their main language, which is normally the language in which the candidates did their higher education studies.

A first-level degree from a university or institution of equivalent status is a requirement for employment for all United Nations copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors.

The written examination for copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors usually consists of four papers as follows:

  1. Copy-editing and copy preparation of a text intended for typesetting (2 hours and 15 minutes)
  2. A language aptitude test (45 minutes)
  3. Proofreading against a manuscript (2 hours)
  4. A language aptitude test in two additional languages (1 hour).

The highest-scoring candidates from the written examination are invited to sit a computer exam, which tests candidates’ ability to perform basic and essential operations to produce a publication and manipulate files using Adobe Creative Suite software.

Those who pass the written examination and the computer test are invited to a competency-based interview.

Please note that the content and format of the examination, as well as eligibility requirements and instructions on how to apply, may vary from one examination session to the next. Applicants should therefore check the corresponding examination notices carefully in order to be duly prepared.

Sample examination notice

Preparing for the competitive examination for copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors

  • Consider the basic skills required in order to excel in such an exam: Do you have a perfect command of your main language and an excellent knowledge of English and another official United Nations language (or, in the case of English, an excellent knowledge of two other official languages)?
  • Familiarize yourself, if possible, with United Nations terminology, style and standards.
  • Practice as much as possible in order to conquer the time restrictions. The deadlines are challenging compared with length of the papers. Try to find texts that have not been edited/proofread, and read them in order to find and mark items for correction.
  • If you succeed in the first two parts, and are called to the interview, review the competencies and consider how you have demonstrated those skills in your work thus far. Have confidence in your qualifications and your competencies and, generally, be yourself.