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Examinations for Translators/Précis-writers, Editors, Verbatim Reporters and Copy Preparers/Proofreaders/Production Editors

A single competitive examination is used to recruit English translators/précis writers, editors, verbatim reporters and copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors. Candidates must take the corresponding competitive examination in their main language, which is normally the language in which the candidates did their higher education studies. Please note that the information on this page is for English language professionals only. For information about the recruitment of language professionals who work into another official language, please switch to the version of this website in that language.

A first-level degree from a university or institution of equivalent status is a requirement for employment for all United Nations translators/précis-writers, editors, verbatim reporters and copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors. Many, but not all, United Nations translators also have a degree from an accredited school of translation. The ability to translate into English from at least two of the other official languages (i.e. two of Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) is essential.

The first and second parts of the examination for English translators/précis writers, editors, verbatim reporters and copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors will probably both be conducted remotely.

The first part of the examination will usually consist of:

  1. A translation into English of a general text in one of the official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) (approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes). Depending on the number of applications, this paper may be eliminatory.
  2. A translation into English of a specialized (economic or legal) text in an official language other than the one chosen for the first paper (approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes).
  3. A summary in English of the text of a statement in English (approximately 1 hour).
  4. Editing of an English text, making all necessary logical and stylistic corrections (approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes).

Candidates may use online and other available resources during the first part of the examination, but may not consult or obtain help from any other person.

Those who pass the first part of the examination are convoked to the second part, which is likely to include a remote proctored (invigilated) test, in which candidates may be required to translate without using dictionaries, glossaries or other resources, as well as additional exercises and a competency-based interview.

Successful applicants will be included on a roster of translators/précis writers, editors, verbatim reporters and copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors. When there is a suitable vacancy at one of the UN duty stations, they may be offered a position.

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.