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Examinations for Editors

Candidates for editorial posts must take the examination in their main language, which must be one of the official United Nations languages, i.e., Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian or Spanish. The main language is normally the language in which candidates completed their higher education. The frequency with which examinations are held depends on current and/or projected vacancies. The majority of vacancies are for English editors.

A first-level degree from a university or institution of equivalent status is a requirement for employment for all United Nations editors. Candidates must be able to perform their duties at computer workstations and have word-processing skills.

The examinations for editors may include the following exercises:

  1. Editing of a text or texts in the main language
  2. Exercises in style and usage of the main language
  3. Editing of a text in the main language to bring it into line with a text edited in another official language.
  4. Summary in the main language of a text in another official language
  5. Translation from the candidate’s other language

Successful candidates are convoked to a competency-based interview.

Applicants should check the examination notices attached to the announcement of the examination they are interested in, since examination content, procedures and dates, as well as eligibility requirements and instructions on how to apply, may vary.

Sample examination notice

Sample examination for editors

Dedicated targeted practice and careful preparation for the examination is strongly recommended to both recent graduates who are on the cusp of language careers and practising language professionals.


There is no universal “recipe” that will work for each and every candidate, but there are some tools and techniques that have proven to be helpful with successful candidates. For those who plan to take the Competitive Examination for Editors, we provide a link to the Online Report-writing Course, an interactive feature of the United Nations Editorial Manual Online.